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Ann Savage Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (9) | Personal Quotes (3) | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Died in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (complications from multiple strokes)
Birth NameBernice Maxine Lyon

Mini Bio (1)

For one tough cookie who achieved major cult stardom with her hard-bitten blonde looks and "Perfect Vixen" tag, Ann Savage in real life was a lovely, spirited, gentle-looking lady. She may have peaked only briefly in 1940s Hollywood low-budgeters, but she made the most of it during that fairly short tenure. Out of the dozens of movies under her belt, one film part shot her to femme fatale infamy and, to this day, remains her biggest claim to fame. It took only four (some accounts say six) days to shoot, but Detour (1945) stands out as one of the best examples of surreal film noir, and the unforgettable dialogue and riveting teaming of Ann and sulky co-star Tom Neal are the primary reasons for its enduring fame.

An only child, Ann was born Bernice Maxine Lyon in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 19, 1921. Her father was a US Army officer and the family traveled with him to his various duty stations, including Dallas and New Orleans, until settling in Jacksonville, Florida. He died when she was only four years old. Ann's mother, a jewelry buyer, took the two of them to Los Angeles before Ann was 10 years old. Appearing in local theater productions, the young girl trained at Max Reinhardt's acting school. The school's manager happened to be Bert D'Armand, who later became her agent. They married in 1945.

She changed her name to "Ann Savage" before even stepping onto a sound stage and it was a workshop production of "Golden Boy" that led to her initially signing up at Columbia Pictures. The first glimpse of Ann came as an extra in MGM's The Great Waltz (1938) and she gradually earned on-camera experience in unbilled parts in such war-era movies as The More the Merrier (1943) and Murder in Times Square (1943). She rose to featured and co-star status in such lightweight Columbia films as Two Señoritas from Chicago (1943), Footlight Glamour (1943) and Saddles and Sagebrush (1943).

Although Ann played devilish dames in The Unwritten Code (1944), Apology for Murder (1945) and The Last Crooked Mile (1946), it was venomous Vera, the blackmailing, tough-talking, cigarette-dangling, good-for-nothing who bullies hapless wanna-be tough-guy musician (Tom Neal) into her schemes in Detour (1945) that truly summed up her "bad girl" charisma. At the inducement of Columbia Pictures honcho Harry Cohn, Savage and Neal made four films together (the last being "Detour"). The other three were Klondike Kate (1943), Two-Man Submarine (1944) and The Unwritten Code (1944) (the two would reunite years later in a 1955 TV episode of the series Gang Busters (1952)).

Ann was one of the more popular WWII pinups. After appearing in a photo layout in "Esquire" magazine in 1944 that was shot by renowned studio photographer George Hurrell Sr., she became a favorite with the troops, making numerous personal appearance tours at various military bases in order to raise war bonds. Freelancing after leaving Columbia, Ann appeared in a host of other second-string pictures, including One Exciting Night (1944), The Spider (1945), The Dark Horse (1946), Renegade Girl (1946), Jungle Flight (1947), Satan's Cradle (1949), Pygmy Island (1950) and Woman They Almost Lynched (1953), which would be her last film for over three decades. While she certainly demonstrated talent and range, she was unable to rise out of the "B" mold. This led her to look at TV for a time in the 1950s as a possible medium, guesting on such shows as The Ford Television Theatre (1952), City Detective (1953), Schlitz Playhouse (1951), Death Valley Days (1952) and Fireside Theatre (1949).

Ann semi-retired in the late 1950s and moved from Hollywood to Manhattan with husband Bert, who by now had traded his agent business for the financing and professional trading world. She occasionally appeared on local TV and in industrial films. The couple traveled extensively until his sudden death in 1969. A grief-stricken Ann returned to Hollywood to be near her mother, sharpened her legal secretarial skills by working as a docket clerk with Bert's attorneys in Los Angeles (Loeb & Loeb) and became an avid speed-rated pilot in her spare hours.

Elsewhere the veteran actress continued to delight her fans with her appearances at "film noir" festivals, nostalgia conventions and special screenings of her work. Refusing to appear in exploitive material, Ann turned down much work. In later years she appeared very sporadically--in the movie Fire with Fire (1986) and an episode of Saved by the Bell (1989). Out of nowhere the resilient octogenarian was cast by Canadian director Guy Maddin, a film noir fan, to play a shrewish mother in the highly acclaimed My Winnipeg (2007), earning "bad girl" raves all over again.

Named an "icon and legend" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2005, Ann was applauded for her body of work by "Time" Magazine twice in 2007. She died at a Hollywood nursing home at age 87 on Christmas Day in 2008 following multiple stroke complications.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Bert D'Armand (1947 - 30 December 1969) (his death)
Cleland Huntington (June 1944 - 1945) (divorced)
Clark Tennesen (1938 - 1940) (divorced)

Trivia (9)

Was a speed-rated pilot and at one time flew her own plane, a 250 Comanche, winning several tournament awards.
Her husband, financier Bert D'Armand, died in 1969. Ann returned to Los Angeles, flying planes, working various jobs and making public appearances with her personal print of Detour (1945).
Made three other pictures with her Detour (1945) co-star Tom Neal. They had a rather chilly working relationship. The volatile Neal, who once severely pummeled actor Franchot Tone over the affections of actress Barbara Payton, was later jailed for involuntary manslaughter in the 1960s for shooting his third wife to death in the head. He got six years despite maintaining it was an accident.
In 1992 the Library of Congress named Detour (1945) as the first film noir and "B- movie" inducted into the National Registry of Film.
In May of 2007 Time Magazinew called her walking nightmare portrayal of Vera in Detour (1945) one of the Top "10 All-Time Best Villains", included alongside James Cagney in White Heat (1949) Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear (1962) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator (1984).
Warner Bros. briefly considered John Garfield to play the lead opposite Ann in Detour (1945). Tom Neal was cast when Poverty Row studio Producers Releasing Corp. (PRC) bought the script by Martin Goldsmith.
She died in her sleep at a nursing home in Hollywood (CA) on Christmas Day from complications of a series of strokes. She is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery alongside her third husband, Bert D'Armand.
Her manager was Kent Adamson.
As of July 2006 she was living in the Hollywood Fairfax district in Los Angeles area and continuing to make public appearances with Detour (1945). In the spring of 2006 played Guy Maddin's mother in My Winnipeg (2007). It was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the top ten films of 2007, singling out her performance.

Personal Quotes (3)

No one would wish to be remembered for things like Two-Man Submarine (1944) or Saddles and Sagebrush (1943), which were typical of the kind of pictures I did. The part in Detour (1945) seemed like the opportunity every actress longs for. When I first read the script by Martin Goldsmith, I knew that I was going to be part of something very exciting.
[about director William Berke, with whom she made several pictures] [He had] a round face, but wasn't fat--nor was he too thin. A gentle man who spoke quietly. A nice, lovely man who wore glasses--he wasn't tall or short, probably around 5'8" or 5'9". Nicely built and a nice face.
[on Tom Neal, her co-star in Detour (1945) and several previous films] He was a troublemaker, the only one I had problems with in all the years I was in movies. He would go out of his way to rub you the wrong way! Otherwise, he could be charming. He was like two different people. He wore lifts, otherwise I'd be taller than he was; and those hairstyles made me seem taller, anyway. I was 5'4¾" tall and Tom was about the same, as was Don 'Red' Barry, for that matter. Tom embarrassed me once. He had some buddies with him. I was standing there as they were lighting me for the next scene. He came into the scene, saying he had something to tell me. I leaned over and he stuck his tongue in my ear. I hit him as hard as I could! I slapped him with my hand open! I was a tough little kid and could take care of myself. I was so angry and humiliated I naturally reacted by hitting him. He staggered back, and I immediately left the set, so I didn't see his reaction, be it anger or whatever. Later, when we worked together, there was no talk at all----just did our scenes together and that was it. We stayed apart and never spoke.

Salary (1)

The Spider (1945) $1,000

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