December 7th, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 341
As I make the final touches on my pre-Code lecture for this afternoon, here’s an oldie but a goodie from my Ann Dvorak collection. I guess everything I have is an oldie, but this piece goes all the way back to 1916. As many of you already know, Ann technically made her film debut as a tot in the feature Ramona. Credited as “Baby Anna Lehr,” she was only in the prologue (on a reel that is now “lost”) and played the title character as a child. Despite this limited screen time, Ann garnered excellent notices, and as we can see from the above sheet music was featured not once, but twice!
I think that kid may have a future in pictures.
December 6th, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 340
Tomorrow, I am going to be giving a brief lecture on pre-Code cinema followed by a screening of an Ann Dvorak film. The program is going to be at Central Library where I work, and our licensing agreement with the studios prevents the film title or studio from being advertised. I am not sure if that agreement actually extends to this website, but I would rather not take any chances. So, I will just say that the lecture will be followed by a screening of a pre-Code gem starring Ann Dvorak, Joan Blondell, and Bette Davis as childhood friends who are reunited years later, causing Dvorak’s life to derail after she’s the third to light her cigarette on a match.
Start time is 2pm in the Taper Auditorium, and it’s FREE! Full details can be found here.
December 5th, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 339
The new issue of the L.A. Weekly features this snazzy write-up on Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel and yours truly, which is more extensive than I was expecting. And it’s in the hard copy too!
Sorry for the abbreviated (and late) post. Still dealing with this flu.
December 4th, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 338
Well, I feel way worse today than I did yesterday so I am going to treat you to possibly the weirdest Ann Dvorak bit I have come across on the web.
I have apparently reached that point in life where things these crazy kids are doing online eludes my sensibilities, so I am not exactly sure what this site Polyvore is. Can you actually shop there? Is it just a place for people to put together creative designs for others to admire? All of the above? What I do know is that someone has put together an outfit either inspired by or in tribute to Ann Dvorak.
The quotes included do not come from Ann, but the outfit does have a 1930s feel to it. And hey, any Ann is good Ann so we Dvorak faithful appreciate it.
December 3rd, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 337
I am currently succumbing to some sort of flu, so today’s post is purely visual. Here is a snapshot from the honeymoon scrapbook of Ann enjoying the winter holidays, possibly in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1932.
December 2nd, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 336
At various points in Ann Dvorak’s life, if you had asked her if she would rather be an actress or a writer, she may have opted for the latter. Writing was a personal love of Ann’s and something she always engaged it. As a child she would fill reams of paper with poetry which she occasionally shared with her mother. She claimed to have worked on the newspaper at her private school and to have been briefly employed at the Los Angeles Times as a cub reporter after graduating.
There were occasionally rumors Ann’s writing being published including a book of poetry, an account of her eight-month honeymoon, and a play she had written about her parents called “Vaudeville Days.” Unfortunately, none of these projects came to pass. She finally fulfilled this personal dream during the Second World War where she wrote articles for a newspaper syndicate, a British publication, and even for a couple of American movie magazines. In fact, when she came back to the United States from England, she is identified on the ship manifest as being a writer.
In later life, Ann launched an impressively ambitions project called “Historical Digest,” where she penned an 18 volume history of the world and recorded herself reading it. Aimed at being a teaching aid for university courses, the opus was not embraced by the academic community. I still have hopes that a copy of “Historical Digest” will one day appear.
The above photo of Ann engaged in one of her favorite hobbies is from her honeymoon scrapbook.
December 1st, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 335
I have to admit I am rather sad to see November come to an end. Sure, my three-year-old is beside herself that it’s finally December with Christmas around the corner, which is almost as exciting for me. However, November 2013 was one of my most memorable and I think can appropriately be called the “Month of Ann Dvorak.”
I had dreamed of having an Ann Dvorak biography published for years, and its release on November 4th exceeded all my expectations. I was treated to positive reviews by five film bloggers and one online magazine, a fabulous mention by old school columnist Liz Smith who likened Ann to Gloria Swanson, a radio interview with yours truly about writing the book on the subway, along with a discussion at the Silver Screen Oasis. The official launch party was an overwhelming success with more people in attendance than the fire marshall would have liked, and the first Ann Dvorak book talk was well received.
As if all of the above weren’t enough, I was also fortunate enough to have Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel selected for the Turner Classic Movies Book Corner. Throughout the month I heard from countless people who saw the promo run on the station and the spoiled brat in me is sad that as of today, it will no longer be running.
Finally, I have heard some wonderful feedback from the Dvorak faithful on this site, for which I cannot adequately express my appreciation. But don’t worry, there’s more Ann Dvorak coming down the pipeline as we head into December and round out the Year of Ann Dvorak.
November 30th, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 334
Yesterday, we braved the shopping crowds in order to take in a viewing of Frozen with the wee one (which by the way, was fantastic). Since we had already fought the good fight for a parking space in the busy Burbank shopping district, I could not help but pop into the Barnes & Noble where I figured I would find disappointment, but instead experienced pure elation. For there, the the Film & TV section, in between Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey and Titanic & the Making of James Cameron, sat Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel. I did have my doubts that the book would find its way into a chain like B&N and seeing it there got me choked up a bit because it was something I have dreamed about for a very long time. Don’t ask about the shelving order, which is supposed to be by author but is not quite happening. Also, I am choosing to believe that there is only one copy on the shelf because the other 5 sold (I can continue to dream, can’t I?).
November 29th, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 333
There seems to be an ongoing debate over whether Amazon reviews can actually help or hurt a book’s sales. I lean towards yes, they can affect the sales because I have at times based my own decisions to purchase a book on the reviews. I am fully aware that some 5 star reviews are written by friends or family who may not have even read the book, while sometimes 1 star reviews are driven by a personal vendetta against the author rather than the book’s actual content (this happened to a friend of mine). However, I think it’s usually pretty easy to wade through the muck and pick out the legitimate reviews from people who are taking the time to write something that is constructive and helpful. Apparently reviews on Amazon may also work into some algorithm that causes the book to show up as “recommended reading,” though I am not sure if anyone has been able to prove it.
I have to admit that when I was writing the Ann Dvorak book, I obsessively read Amazon reviews of other film bios trying to get a sense of what readers were expecting from a film biography. I’m not really sure if it actually guided my writing or just made me paranoid about receiving lousy reviews, but it was always an entertaining experience.
As an author, the other nice thing about Amazon reviews is being able to get feedback (hopefully positive) from readers who I do not interact with and who may not have a platform like a blog to express their opinion of a work. After working on Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel for well over a decade, it’s important for me to know if the book has truly filled the information void about the Divine Miz D. I am also inclined to think there are people out there who may be on the fence about reading a bio of someone as obscure as Ann, so the reviews might actually be a push.
So, if you’ve gotten through the book and enjoyed it, please consider taking a few minutes to contribute a review to Amazon. It doesn’t need to be more than a few sentences stating why it’s worth reading, and certainly does not need to provide a rehash of her life and career. And remember, if Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel is a book you would recommend to other film fans, a 5 or 4 star review is appropriate.
Thanks in advance!
November 28th, 2013
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 332
Author Charles Tranberg posted this festive photo of Bette Davis on his Facebook page yesterday and it’s so fabulous that I am borrowing it. Plus, I do not have any comparable images of Ann Dvorak in my collection. I am guessing this one of Bette is from 1932, and if that’s the case, Ann was far from Burbank at the time because she was traipsing around Europe with husband Leslie Fenton. Had Ann stayed home that year, I would imagine the pilgrim costume and turkey would have been thrown her way for some equally celebratory Thanksgiving pics. But, she did skip town which resulted in a woeful dearth of Ann Dvorak/turkey photos in this world. Still, I think Bette makes a nice substitute.