Ann Sothern Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (31)  | Personal Quotes (10)  | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Valley City, North Dakota, USA
Died in Ketchum, Idaho, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameHarriette Arlene Lake
Height 5' 1½" (1.56 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Ann Sothern's film career started as an extra in 1927. Originally a redhead, for the comedy roles she began to get she bleached her hair blond. After working at MGM and on Broadway, Ann was signed by Columbia Pictures for Let's Fall in Love (1933). The next year she would work with Eddie Cantor in his hit Kid Millions (1934). For the next two years, Ann would appear in a number of "B" pictures until she was dropped by Columbia in 1936. She then went to RKO, where the quality of her films did not improve. She appeared in a series of "B' pictures movies with Gene Raymond, but her career was going nowhere. In 1938 she left RKO and played the tart in Trade Winds (1938), which got her a contract at MGM. She was given the lead in a "B" comedy about a brassy, energetic showgirl not salesgirl--originally intended for Jean Harlow--that wound up becoming a huge hit and spawned a series of sequels that ran until 1947: Maisie (1939). Ann also appeared in such well received features as Brother Orchid (1940), Cry 'Havoc' (1943) and A Letter to Three Wives (1949). After 1950 the roles dried up and Ann turned to television and another hit series, playing the meddlesome Susie in the 1953 series Private Secretary (1953). The series was canceled in 1957 and Ann came back in The Ann Sothern Show (1958), which ran from 1958 to 1961. In 1965, she would be the voice of the 1928 Porter in the camp classic My Mother the Car (1965). While the 1970s and 1980s were relatively quiet for Ann, she would be nominated for an Academy Award for her role as the neighbor of Lillian Gish and Bette Davis in The Whales of August (1987).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana < tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Ann Sothern, born Harriet Lake on January 22,1909 in Valley City, North Dakota, and her film career started as an extra-bit part in the film Broadway Nights (1927) in 1927. She would work as an extra for the next six years. It barely paid the bills. Finally, Ann got her break with Columbia Pictures when they signed her to a contract in 1934. Her first role for Columbia was in the film The Party's Over (1934). The work was getting better and a bit more lucrative as she would be in 11 movies in 1934 and 1935. It wasn't riches but it was better than being just an extra. The films weren't much to write home about either. Ann was dropped by Columbia in 1936 and she signed with RKO Pictures. With RKO, she played in a number of forgettable productions such as Dangerous Number (1937) and She's Got Everything (1937). Ann left RKO two years later and played Jean Livingstone in Trade Winds (1938) which landed her a contract with MGM. In 1939, Ann starred in Maisie (1939) which would turn into a series of ten films with the last being Undercover Maisie (1947) in 1947. In between, she starred in such movies as Dulcy (1940), Thousands Cheer (1943) and Three Hearts for Julia (1943). During the 1950's, she played in only four films. By this time, however, Ann had turned to the relatively new medium--television, where she would attract legions of new fans. In 1953, Ann played the role of Susie in Private Secretary (1953), which ran until 1957. The quality and comedy was quite good, but, unfortunately, it doesn't run anywhere in syndicated re-runs. In 1958, she starred in The Ann Sothern Show (1958), as Katy O'Connor, which ran until 1961. In 1965, she would be the voice in My Mother the Car (1965). This was a story about a man (Jerry Van Dyke) who bought a 1928 Porter and, lo and behold, it was "Mom". The 1970's and 1980's were drought ridden for Ann, but she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Tisha Doughty in 1987's The Whales of August (1987). For Ann, it was a wonderful way to leave show business. Ann lived in quiet retirement in Ketcham, Idaho near her daughter, Tisha Sterling and granddaughter, until her death at the ripe old age of 92.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (2)

Robert Sterling (23 May 1943 - 7 March 1949) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Roger Pryor (27 September 1936 - 17 May 1943) ( divorced)

Trivia (31)

Mother of look-alike, sound-alike actress Tisha Sterling. The two appeared in The Whales of August (1987), with Tisha, in the prelude scene, portraying a younger-day Ann.
Left visibly overweight by a bout of hepatitis, she only wore black outfits in her 1950s sitcoms Private Secretary (1953) and The Ann Sothern Show (1958).
In her role as Susie McNamara on Private Secretary (1953) (which ran 1953-1958), Sothern played the first working woman on an American TV sitcom.
Had been so busy in the entertainment industry for so many years, once quipped that she had done everything in the business except rodeo.
Portrayed Maisie Ravier on Mutual Radio's "The Adventures of Maisie" (1949- 1951).
Her sister Marion was once a secretary to columnist Abigail Van Buren ("Dear Abby").
Her paternal grandfather, Simon Lake, was the inventor of the modern submarine.
A singer in her early career, she sang with Artie Shaw and His Orchestra, among others. She was also a published songwriter and recorded two albums.
In 1953, her film career waned and she decided to give TV a try. When a TV series based on her popular "Maisie" film character failed to materialize, she made her series debut with Suzie McNamara on Private Secretary (1953).
Her mother was a concert singer who traveled; Ann followed suit studying singing and musical composition. In later years her mother became a diction and vocal coach and taught microphone technique for talking pictures.
Her younger sister was the prolific singer/songwriter Bonnie Lake who wrote several popular standards such as "Sandman", "I've Got Your Number" and "Gracias" - songs later recorded by such big band stars as Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. In the 1940s, Bonnie founded the Bonnie Lake Music Publishing Company.
Ex-daughter-in-law of Arthur Pryor.
A good friend of Zachary Scott's former wife, Elaine Anderson, stage manager for many Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's Broadway productions, Ann introduced Elaine to novelist John Steinbeck, who eventually married her. Upon his death Elaine became the administrator of the writer's estate.
Good friends with Lucille Ball and Ann Dvorak, both of whom she met while working as a chorus girl (Ball at the Goldwyn Studios, Dvorak at MGM).
Profiled in book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman. [1999]
Replaced Kim Stanley at the last minute in A Death of Innocence (1971), featuring her daughter Tisha Sterling, when Stanley was unable to perform.
After appearing in Fox's Hotel for Women (1939), she turned down the studio's offer of a long-term contract in favor of signing one with rival MGM. Fox reportedly then cut down Sothern's role in order to favor newcomer Linda Darnell.
Among her numerous business interests were a dress shop and gift shop in Idaho, a ranch for breeding Black Angus beef, a music publishing company and a sewing-center shop.
She was a lifelong conservative Republican who was a strong supporter of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush. She was also an outspoken anti-Communist who supported the HUAC hearings of the 1940s and 1950s, and attended several Republican National Conventions.
Sang the Oscar-winning song "The Last Time I Saw Paris" in Lady Be Good (1941).
She wanted to play the prostitute in Lost Horizon (1937) but the part went to Isabel Jewell.
She replaced Jean Harlow in Maisie (1939) after the actress' unexpected death.
In the TV remake of A Letter to Three Wives (1949) (A Letter to Three Wives (1985)) she played the role played by Connie Gilchrist in the original.
She sang on tour with husband Roger Pryor's band. They divorced in 1942.
Although she was announced for Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), the part was eventually played by Lucille Ball.
Gave birth to her only child at age 35, a daughter Patricia Ann Sterling, aka Tisha Sterling, on December 10, 1944. Child's father was her 2nd husband, Robert Sterling.
Became a grandmother for the 1st time at age 57 when her daughter Tisha Sterling gave birth to a daughter, Heidi K. Baum, on March 3, 1966.
Ann Sothern has the distinction of co-starring (with Franchot Tone) in the first American film to play in newly-liberated Copenhagen (May, 1945), following Denmark's five-year German occupation in World War II; the film is 1939's "Fast and furious".
Daughter of Walter (January 10, 1885-January 14, 1970), born in the state of Illinois, and Annette (née Nielsen) Lake (June 23, 1884-December 13, 1962), born in Denmark.
Paternal granddaughter of Frank and Sarah (née Conway) Lake. Both were born in England and emigrated to America as children.
Sothern was lifelong friends with Merv Griffin. They met when Merv was the "house singer" at the Pebble Beach Lodge in Monterey, California and she was a struggling starlet at Columbia Pictures. When Sothern's film career waned in the early 50s, she starred in the hit sitcom Private Secretary, and it was she who encouraged Griffin to try his luck in the then new medium of television. He would, of course, go on to become one of the most successful men in showbiz.

Personal Quotes (10)

Good night . . . and stay happy.
Hollywood sold its stars on good looks and personality build-ups. We weren't really actresses in the true sense. We were just big names--the products of a good publicity department. Today's crop of actresses and actors have real talent. Good looks are no longer an essential part of the business.
Sometimes I'll watch an old movie on television and, once in a while, one of mine -- such as April Showers (1948) -- will come on and I'll watch it. And you know something? I'm always amazed at what a lousy actress I was. I guess in the old days we just got by on glamour.
[about her long-time friend Lucille Ball and her second series, The Ann Sothern Show (1958)] Lucy used to complain that she got all the parts I turned down. Now I produce the show, and she owns the studio. I guess that settles that.
Listen, I never asked to be in show business. It was my mother's idea.
People never think of me as a singer. But singers aren't always good actresses, and, thank goodness, they think of me as an actress.
[on her co-stars in The Whales of August (1987)] Lillian [Lillian Gish] is a person first and then a movie star. Bette [Bette Davis] is a movie star.
I only like character parts. I never wanted to be a leading woman.
[on her MGM contract years] You didn't have to walk to the set. There was always a limousine. I never thought you stopped making money and grew old.
I love Lucille (Ball), and I know she loves me. Furthermore I'm one of the few people who call her Lucille. I understand her. A lot people think she is tough. But that's just her way. She's soft inside.

Salary (1)

The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957) $25,000 (1957)

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