Sunday, June 17, 2012

In Memory: Ann Rutherford. (November 2, 1917 – June 11, 2012).

Ann Rutherford's parents were, John Rutherford, a former New York Metropolitan Opera tenor, and Lucille Mansfield, a silent film actress.  After moving to San Francisco, her parents separated and Lucille Mansfield moved to Los Angeles with Ann Rutherford and her sister Judith. While roller skating home from middle school in Hollywood, Rutherford would stop by the radio studios to listen to voice actors perform. After being criticized by her English teacher, Rutherford falsified an acting history and applied for work at radio station KFAC. Where she landed, a part in a radio serial drama.

Rutherford was married twice. On December 31, 1942, she married David May II, the grandson of the founder of the May Company department stores.  They had a girl, Gloria May, in 1943. On June 6, 1953, Rutherford and May were divorced in a court in Juarez, Mexico. On October 7, 1953, in New York City, Rutherford married actor/producer William Dozier, the creator of the Batman (1966-68) TV series. Dozier died in Santa Monica of a stroke on April 23, 1991.

In 1935, Rutherford began her Hollywood film career in the starring role of Joan O'Brien in the dramatic film, Waterfront Lady. Rutherford, soon established herself as a popular leading lady of Western films, costarring with actors Gene Autry and John Wayne.

In 1937, Rutherford left Republic and signed a film contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. At MGM, Rutherford performed as the Spirit of Christmas Past in, A Christmas Carol (1938) and Lydia Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice (1940) .

In 1938, MGM loaned Rutherford to Selznick International Pictures to appear as Carreen O'Hara, the sister of Scarlet O'Hara, in the film Gone with the Wind (1939). MGM boss Louis Mayer, originally refused to  loan her out because, he considered the role too minor, but Rutherford really wanted the part and changed his mind.

From 1937 until 1942, Rutherford portrayed Polly Benedict, in the MGM Andy Hardy comedy film series with actor Mickey Rooney. Her first film in this series was You're Only Young Once (1937) and the last was Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942).

Rutherford also played Carol Lambert, comedian Red Skelton's screen girlfriend, for MGM in a series of mystery/comedies; Whistling in the Dark (1941), Whistling in Dixie (1942), and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943). In the early 1940s, Rutherford left MGM to perform in films: Orchestra Wives (1942) with 20th Century Fox. Movie clip below.

Also the films, Two O'Clock Courage (1945) with RKO Radio Pictures, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), also with RKO.

In 1950, Rutherford was the heroine of a novel, Ann Rutherford and the Key to Nightmare Hall, where "the heroine has the same name and appearance as the actress but there was no connection .

In 1972, Rutherford returned to MGM to make the film They Only Kill Their Masters. The film was shot on the old Andy Hardy set.

In the 1970s, Rutherford made two guest appearances on television as Aggie Harrison, the mother of Suzanne Pleshette's character Emily Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show.

Rutherford died on June 11, 2012 at her home in Beverly Hills, California, following declining health due to heart problems.  She is survived by her daughter, Gloria May, her companion of twenty years, Al Morley, a stepdaughter, Deborah Dozier Potter, and two grandsons.

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