Friday, June 23, 2017

Ann Blyth Guest Stars on Quincy, M.E. - today on COZI-TV


Just a brief alert to let you know that the episode "The Death Challenge" on Quincy, M.E. will be broadcast today on COZI-TV, 2 p.m. Eastern Time.  Ann Blyth and Don Ameche appear as a husband-and-wife magician act, along with star Jack Klugman, pictured above,

For more on the episode, have a look at this post on my Another Old Movie Blog. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ann Blyth - DJ on the Armed Forces Radio Service


Seventeen-year-old Ann Blyth became a radio disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio Service in September-October 1945.

Many Hollywood stars served as hosts, emcees, or contributed their talent in an amazing array of radio variety show scenarios during World War II.  Most of these programs were studio recorded in the U.S., and then the records were shipped to camps and bases overseas for the military to enjoy.

Among the more well-remembered programs are Mail Call, Command Performance, Jubilee, and G.I. Journal.  Ann did guest on Command Performance with Kay Kyser as host in 1946, and was the emcee on Mail Call also in 1946.  I don't know if those programs were preserved. 

However, we are fortunate to have at least two episodes of Purple Heart Album, a 15-minute program, usually hosted by Frances Langford, (though other stars filled in for her from time to time) on which Ann appeared.  You can listen to two shows in which Ann Blyth substituted as the disc jockey/host for Frances Langford, thanks to the Internet Archive.  The programs are in public domain, so feel free to download them to your computers.  First, episode #55, where Ann presents recordings by Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Vaughn Monroe with "Rum and Coca-Cola," and others.

Second, episode #56, Vaughn Monore back with a delightful "A Trip on a Greyhound Bus," and other artists.

One notes upon listening to these programs that they were intended for broadcast to veterans' hospitals across the country, and Ann reads requests and dedications sent in by the military patients of these hospitals.  This was her audience for Purple Heart Album.

Undoubtedly, her patter and delivery--soothing, tender, and easygoing, is likely intended by the producers as comforting as much as for entertainment for bedridden war casualties.  She refers to herself as "your gal friend," and "your old school chum."  Her delivery is quite smooth and professional for someone so young, and yet genuine and pleasant.

Ann probably understood more than most of the guest hosts the need for entertainment of the comforting kind for the injured and disabled: she was slowly recovering that year from a serious spine injury she had suffered in a toboggan accident in April 1945, and had spent many months in bed.  By the fall, she was out of her plaster body cast and into a removable steel brace--able to get around and leave the apartment she shared with her mother, but her film career was put on hold for the time being.  Luckily, her recovery period included a gig like this for the wounded warriors to enjoy back then, and for us to enjoy now.



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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.


Also in paperback from CreateSpace, and from my Etsy shop: LynchTwinsPublishing.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Merry Monahans - lobby cards

Ann Blyth's second movie was The Merry Monahans (1944), one of a string of four musicals released by Universal-International in 1944.  These lobby cards, which were issued in a series for advertisement in theater lobbies, show different scenes from the film.  The scene above shows Ann in a backstage dressing room in an awkward dramatic moment with Rosemary DeCamp, who plays her mother, and John Miljan, who plays their conniving and controlling vaudeville partner and manager intending to complete his control by marrying her mother.  Ann doesn't like him, and is caught between a rock and a hard place.

We are given a glimpse into Ann's ability to convey a range of emotions in a dramatic setting, and such scenes inevitably stand out in what were really stories of light fluff.

Donald O'Connor, Jack Oakie, Peggy Ryan

These other lobby cards shown here serve to really promote the film to an audience who were already familiar with Jack Oakie, Donald O'Connor, and Peggy Ryan.  They were the heavy hitters of the movie on whose shoulders the publicity department placed the weight of promoting the film.  

Donald O'Connor,  Peggy Ryan, and Jack Oakie

This Ann Blyth newcomer, whose image was starting to crop up on lobby cards and movie posters, she would be a talent whose ability to carry the promotion of a film would soon grab the attention of the Universal publicity department in a big way, and would become one of the lead stars of the studio.  In her case, I'm not sure it was the result of being groomed by the studio, as was the case with many contract players, or if it simply happened. Kismet, you might say.

From my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

Here, Ann is not the breezy and self-confident sophisticate she was in Chip off the Old Block.  She’s playing closer to her own age, looks younger with the World War I-era long ringlets and old-fashioned clothing, and she immediately draws our sympathy for her anxiety over performing, of not being good enough and not pleasing her mother and Mr. Miljan, who coaches her.  She has to make good because they have to eat; otherwise, she’s not sure she belongs in this world of theatre—just a sad, sweet girl, doing her best to keep up, though she is overwhelmed.

We see at once that Ann Blyth has, in her second film, already established her ability to appear completely different to her previous movie role.  Her versatility, the most striking and notable feature of her acting career, is a quality she came in with from day one.  As we will see, this very talent of simply being versatile could be useful in exploiting new opportunities; but it could also hold one back in an industry that seemed always to hire based on type.

Peggy Ryan

For more on The Merry Monahans, have a look at this post on my Another Old Movie Blog.

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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.


Also in paperback from CreateSpace, and from my Etsy shop: LynchTwinsPublishing.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ann Blyth at home...

Ann Blyth is about twenty years old in the above photo, seen relaxing at home.  It was a house she shared with her aunt and uncle, who came to live with her after the death of her mother when Ann was a teenager.  This is a photo taken and distributed for publicity purposes by her home studio, Universal.

We are bombarded today with media coverage on the private lives of celebrities, but it's interesting to note that back in Hollywood's heyday, even though the information we were given about the stars' personal lives was heavily filtered, there was still a great deal of imposing on their privacy -- often at the insistence of their employers, the studios.

To varying degrees, the stars complied and we are left with a record of an era when glamour could be found even in ordinary moments of simplicity.  Such was the case with the twenty-year-old young woman in 1948, the year her films A Woman's Vengeance and Another Part of the Forest were released.  Ann played two sophisticated, complicit, even conniving women in those movies.

Nothing like the girl with the abundant dark hair, reading a magazine on the sofa.

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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.


Also in paperback from CreateSpace, and from my Etsy shop: LynchTwinsPublishing.