Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ann Dvorak

Ann Dvorak was born Anna McKim in NYC, NY on August 2, 1912 to actress Anna Lehr and silent film director Edwin McKim. The couple split when Ann was four, and she and her mother moved to Hollywood. Ann would not see her father again until her national appeal through the press reunited the two in 1934. He didn't know she was a successful actress.

Ann began working for MGM in the late 1920's as a dance instructor and appeared uncredited in 24 films as a dancer or chorus girl. During this time Ann also served as an assistant to Oscar nominated choreographer Sammy Lee. Her first credited role was in the comedy Sky Devils starring Spencer Tracy, released on March 3, 1932. However, her real break came with the March 31 release of Howard Hawks' Scarface, opposite Paul Muni. Ann was only 19, but gave a decidedly mature performance. The same year found Ann signing with Warner Brothers, where she co-starred in Three on a Match with Bette Davis and Joan Blondell, Love is a Racket with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and in the title role of The Strange Love of Molly Louvain.

Unfortunately, an ill timed dispute with Warner's over salary, instituted by her then husband Leslie Fenton, caused Ann to fall from grace and her lead parts in "A" pictures diminished. She continued to work, appearing in films including Sweet Music (1935), where she showed her dancing ability again, and "G"Men (1935) opposite James Cagney, but after many public battles with Warner's, Ann left in 1936 and began to freelance for various studios. Films in 1937 include We Who Are About to Die, with Preston Foster, She's No Lady, and The Case of the Stuttering Bishop, where she has the role of Della Street, opposite Donald Wood's Perry Mason. Blind Alley (1939) paired her with Chester Morris.

In 1940, Ann went to England to support the war effort and be with Fenton, who was a member of the Royal Navy. She made three films in England during this time, but devoted most of her energy as a member of the Women’s Land Army, an ambulance driver, and BBC broadcaster. When the war ended, so did the marriage. She was only 32, but her career in quality pictures was at an end. She appeared and helped carry several films in the mid to late forties, but dropped out of Hollywood and acting by 1952, after 86 appearances. Ann lived her retirement years in Honolulu, where she died on December 10, 1979, at the age of 68.

Ann has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6321 Hollywood Boulevard.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Motion Picture magazine, September 1933

Modern Screen, November 1933

Screen Book, March 1934

Frame captures from two of Ann's 24 uncredited roles.

Frame captures from Scarface.

Publicity still from The Crowd Roars (1932).

Frame captures from The Strange Love of Molly Louvain, where Ann is blonde for a while.

Publicity stills from Molly Louvain.

Frame captures from Love is a Racket.

Frame captures from Three on a Match.

Publicity stills from Three on a Match.

Frame captures from College Coach.

Frame captures from Heat Lightning (1934).

Frame captures from Murder in the Clouds (1934).

Frame captures from "G" Men.

Frame captures from Blind Alley.

Publicity still from Girls of the Road (1940).
It doesn't match 1933's Wild Boys of the Road, but Ann shines.

Undated publicity still.

Undated publicity still.

Ann Dvorak - What do you think - Allure?


Jonas Nordin said...

This is indeed a splendid piece on Ann! Thanks you!

Matthew Coniam said...

Love her! Such an unusual, fascinating face.
This was a great piece. I've seen Blushing Brides several times and never spotted her.

KC said...

Thanks so much for this post. Ann Dvorak is one of my favorites actresses. I thought she and Leslie Fenton made a dashing couple.

Ed Howard said...

She was really something; it's easy to see why Hawks found her so appealing. Her performance in Scarface was phenomenal and unhinged, screechy and melodramatic but also somehow sexy. She's such an archetypal vamp, slinky and slithery, with a silent star's charisma in her malleable face. She brings something great to her appearances in both Scarface and The Crowd Roars, her two films for Hawks, who was her lover at the time. Her overacting in those films is distracting, but at the same time she's such a magnetic presence that it's impossible to look away from her.

Bill Majeska said...

YES Ann Dvorak has Allure. I really like this blog. The first publicity photo of Ann is great.

Please do a Allure on the beautiful Adrienne Ames.