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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 12 February 1927Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Birth NameAlma Mabel Conner

Mini Bio (1)

Ann Gillis was born Alma Mabel Conner on February 12, 1927, in Little Rock, Arkansas. At age seven, she appeared in her first film, Men in White (1934), as an extra. During the next two years, she had uncredited appearances in six more films until she received her first major role in King of Hockey (1936). Warner Brothers Studios gave significant screen time to Gillis in this movie, in hopes that she would become another Shirley Temple. Although (like all child stars of the 1930s) she never achieved Temple's level of fame, for the next several years Gillis starred in many films, almost always playing a spoiled, bratty character. She had two rare sympathetic roles as Becky Thatcher in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) and as the title character in Little Orphan Annie (1938). One scene in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer called for her to go into screaming hysterics when her character was trapped in a cave of bats, and Gillis delivered in a powerful performance that is probably the most memorable scene of her film career. As Gillis grew older, however, her career slowed down, and she left Hollywood in 1947. When she left Hollywood she married Paul Ziebold and had 2 sons. She then divorced, relocated to New York City and married Richard Fraser, a Scottish-born actor (they had a son born in 1958). During the 1950s and '60s, Gillis made sporadic television appearances, and in 1959, she hosted a national telecast presentation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Gillis and her husband moved to England in 1961, and they were living in London when they heard of a casting call for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) that called for an American actress living in the city. Gillis auditioned and got the role; it remains her final film to date.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Snow4849

Spouse (1)

Richard Fraser (1952 - 1970) (divorced) (3 children)

Trivia (2)

Following her Hollywood career in 1947, she moved to New York City, married Scots-born actor Richard Fraser, and turned to TV work. They eventually moved to London where she also did some television. Her last role was as Gary Lockwood's mother in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
Living in Eksel, Belgium.

Personal Quotes (6)

I always did exactly what I was told to do, whether it was my mother, a director, or a teacher. Then I became an adult, at least officially, and I called a halt to a life I'd not chosen and didn't enjoy.
On playing snobby characters: My mother was a bit of a snob. I really didn't get to act that way in real life, so it was a lot of fun.
On The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938): By the time it was over, I couldn't stand that movie. Of course I had to watch it hundreds of times during the promotion tour. The director [Norman Taurog] was there to make Tommy Kelly a star. The rest of the kids got no direction from the man. It was horrible. I had to do a scene in which I had hysterics. I'm ten or eleven years old. I have no idea what hysterics are. The director won't give me any advice. He says come back after lunch ready to do the scene. My mother took me into the trailer to help me. She said, 'I'll show you what hysterics are.' Scared me to death. The only direction I got on that movie was from my mother.
On Bambi (1942): They gave me a script, set me on a stool and had me do the lines. It was cold and difficult. The director was in the sound booth. He directed me over the loudspeaker. Cartoons were common place. I just remember it being an unpleasant job.
On working with Shirley Temple in Since You Went Away (1944): I remember watching her on the set one day. She got in place for the camera and her mother started yelling at her. I felt bad for her. Her mother pushed her hard and in an unpleasant way. It made me appreciate my own mother even more.
On working with Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): Kubrick was a real jerk. It shows you what can happen when a director is given a blank check.

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