Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ann Blyth

Date of Birth16 August 1928Mount Kisco, New York, USA
Birth NameAnn Marie Blyth
Height5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The dark, petulant beauty of this petite American film and musical star worked to her advantage, especially in her early dramatic career. Ann Marie Blyth was born of Irish stock to Harry and Nan Blyth on August 16, 1928, in Mt. Kisco, New York. Her parents split while she was young and she, her mother and sister moved to New York City, where the girls attended various Catholic schools. Already determined at an early age to perform, Ann attended Manhattan's Professional Children's School and was already a seasoned radio performer, particularly on soap dramas, while in elementary school. A member of New York's Children's Opera Company, the young girl made an important Broadway debut as Paul Lukas' and Mady Christians' daughter in the classic Lillian Hellman WWII drama "Watch on the Rhine" (1941), billed as Anne (with an extra "e"). She stayed with the show for two years.

While touring with the play in Los Angeles, the teenager was noticed by director Henry Koster at Universal and given a screen test. Signed on as Ann (without the "e") Blyth, the pretty, photographic colleen displayed her warbling talent in her debut film Chip Off the Old Block (1944), a swing-era teen musical starring Universal song-and-dance favorites Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan. She followed it pleasantly enough with other "B" tunefests such as The Merry Monahans (1944) and Babes on Swing Street (1944). It wasn't until Warner Bros. borrowed her to make self-sacrificing mother Joan Crawford's life pure hell as malicious, spiteful daughter Veda in the classic, Oscar-winning wallow Mildred Pierce (1945) that she really clicked with viewers and set up her dramatic career. With murder on her young character's mind, Hollywood stood up and took notice of this fresh-faced talent.

Although Ann lost the Best Supporting Actress Oscar that year to another Anne (Anne Revere), she was borrowed again by Warner Bros. to film Danger Signal (1945). During filming, Ann suffered a broken back in a sledding accident while briefly vacationing in Lake Arrowhead and had to be replaced in the role. After a long convalescence (over a year and a half in a back brace) Universal used her in a wheelchair-bound cameo in Brute Force (1947).

Her first starring role was an inauspicious one opposite Sonny Tufts in Swell Guy (1946), but she finally began gaining some momentum again. Instead of offering her musical gifts, she continued her serious streak with Killer McCoy (1947) and a dangerously calculated role in Another Part of the Forest (1948), a prequel to The Little Foxes (1941) in which Ann played the Bette Davis role of Regina at a younger age. Her attempts at lighter comedy were mild at best, playing a fetching creature of the sea opposite William Powell in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948) and a teen infatuated with much-older movie star Robert Montgomery in Once More, My Darling (1949).

At full-throttle as a star in the early 1950s, Ann transitioned easily among glossy operettas, wide-eyed comedies and all-out melodramas, some of which tended to be overbaked and, thereby, overplayed. When not dishing out the high dramatics of an adopted girl searching for her birth mother in Our Very Own (1950) or a wrongly-convicted murderess in Thunder on the Hill (1951), she was introducing classic standards as wife to Mario Lanza in The Great Caruso (1951) or playing pert and perky in such light confections as Katie Did It (1951). A well-embraced romantic leading lady, she made her last film for Universal playing a Russian countess courted by Gregory Peck in The World in His Arms (1952).

MGM eventually optioned her for its musical outings, having borrowed her a couple of times previously. She became a chief operatic rival to Kathryn Grayson at the studio during that time. Grayson, however, fared much better than Ann, who was given rather stilted vehicles.

Catching Howard Keel's roving eye while costumed to the nines in the underwhelming Rose Marie (1954) and his daughter in Kismet (1955), she also gussied up other stiff proceedings like The Student Prince (1954) and The King's Thief (1955) will attest. Unfortunately, Ann came to MGM at the tail end of the Golden Age of musicals and probably suffered for it. She was dropped by the studio in 1956.

She reunited with old Universal co-star Donald O'Connor in The Buster Keaton Story (1957), but both were oddly cast with Ann playing a totally fictional love interest to O'Connor's Keaton. Ann ended her career on a high note, however, playing the tragic title role in the The Helen Morgan Story (1957) opposite a gorgeously smirking Paul Newman. Ann has a field day as the piano-sitting, kerchief-holding, liquor-swilling torch singer whose train wreck of a personal life was destined for celluloid. Disappointing for Ann personally, no doubt, was that her singing voice had to be dubbed (albeit superbly) by the highly emotive, non-operatic songstress Gogi Grant.

Through with films, Ann's later concentration (besides family life) was the musical stage, with dramatic TV guest appearances thrown in now and then. Over the years a number of classic songs have been tailored to suit Ann's glorious lyric soprano both in concert form and on the civic light opera/summer stock stages. "The Sound of Music", "The King and I", "Carnival", "Bittersweet", "South Pacific", "Show Boat" and "A Little Night Music" are but a few of her stage credits. During this time Ann appeared as the typical American housewife for Hostess in its Twinkie, cupcake and fruit pie commercials, a job that lasted well over a decade.

She made the last of her sporadic TV guest appearances on Quincy M.E. (1976) and Murder, She Wrote (1984) in the mid-'80s. Married since 1953 to Dr. James McNulty, the brother of late Irish tenor Dennis Day, she is the mother of five. Ann continues to be seen occasionally at social functions and conventions.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh /

Spouse (1)

Dr. James McNulty(27 June 1953 - 13 May 2007) (his death) (5 children)

Trivia (21)

Was under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Recovered from breaking her back in 1945.
Her husband James McNulty was the brother of singer Dennis Day.
In 1951, Howard Hughes gave her a Cadillac and a swimming pool.
She and her husband were awarded the rank of Lady and Knight of the Holy Sepulchre by Cardinal Cooke in 1971.
Her son Timothy Patrick was born June 10, 1954. Her daughter Maureen Ann was born December 14, 1955. Her daughter Kathleen Mary was born December 23, 1957. Her son Terence Grady was born December 9, 1960. Her daughter Eileen Alana was born April 10, 1963. All were born in Los Angeles County.
Her bridesmaids were Joan LeslieJane Withers and Betty Lynn.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6733 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
In Italy, she was often dubbed by Fiorella Betti and Rosetta Calavetta. Occasionally, she was also dubbed by Lidia SimoneschiRenata MariniMicaela Giustiniani and Rina Morelli, most notably in the role of Veda Pierce in Mildred Pierce (1945).
Supposedly her own beautiful voice was dubbed in The Helen Morgan Story (1957) by singer Gogi Grant because it was too classically-trained and high-pitched.
Was the recipient of the Living Legacy Award by the Women's International Center in 2003.
Once geared towards an operatic career studying with the San Carlo Opera Company.
Blyth caused jaws to drop and eyebrows to raise at the 1954 Oscar broadcast when she sang Doris Day's nominated (and eventual winning) song "Secret Love" from the movie Calamity Jane (1953) while seven months pregnant.
For decades, she maintained her primary residence in the upscale San Fernando Valley community of Toluca Lake.
In the 1950s, she was a member of the inspirational group The Christophers in which its mission was to use positive action to create a better world in such areas as political fairness, aiding the poor and sick, and helping those with addictions to alcohol and drugs. Other members included Loretta YoungIrene DunneRicardo MontalbanDon AmecheJames Cagney and Bob Hope.
She is a staunch conservative Republican and throughout the years had supported Dwight D. EisenhowerRichard NixonGerald FordRonald ReaganGeorge Bush and George W. Bush.
She is a donator of The Republican National Committee, The March of Dimes, The American Bible Society, The American Red Cross, Catholic Charities and Salesian Missions.
Has appeared with Donald O'Connor in four films: Bowery to Broadway (1944), Chip Off the Old Block (1944), The Merry Monahans (1944) and The Buster Keaton Story (1957).
She started acting early at age 13 and starred in her first movie at age 15.
In the 1970s, she was the commercial spokesperson for Hostess Cupcakes.
As of 2016 she is the 3rd earliest surviving recipient of a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, behind only Olivia de Havilland and Angela Lansbury. She was nominated in 1945 for Mildred Pierce (1945).

Personal Quotes (1)

As an actress, I have always believed that the truer challenge, the deeper obligation, begins after the the camera stops. My role as a woman in my community and in my home has always overshadowed the excitement of any part I have ever played on stage or screen.
Another Part of the Forest (1948) - Fredric March - Ann Blyth from brtiAmerica on Vimeo.

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