In December 1936, Ann Dvorak wrapped up filming on The Case of the Stuttering Bishop, picked up her final paycheck from Warner Bros and left the Burbank studio for the last time. After nearly five years of battles over money, bad roles and suspensions, Dvorak’s contract was terminated (at her urging), and she entered the arena of freelance acting. One of the first things she did with her new-found freedom was visit the studio of famed Hollywood photographer George Hurrell.
By 1937 Hurrell had more that established himself as the preeminent Hollywood glamor photographer. After a two and a half year stint as Head Portrait Photographer at MGM, Hurrell set up a studio at 8706 W. Sunset Blvd where the stars could come to him. It was here where Ann Dvorak more than likely went to have the master photographer work his magic for her. At the time, Hurrell was also contributing monthly portraits to Esquire magazine and one of his Dvorak photos was featured in the June 1937 issue.
The three portraits in my personal collection belonged to Ann Dvorak. In 2003 I somehow tracked down an antique dealer on the North Shore of Oahu, who had come into possession of the contents of Ann’s storage unit after she died. While most everything had been destroyed by a Hawaiian hurricane years ago, some photos remained including the three double weight embossed Hurrells. At the time, I was unaware that she ever sat for him and was stunned to come across these. I am terrible haggler and it took much whining on the part of me, my mother and the antique dealer’s wife to lower his asking price, but he finally caved (a bit).
A few months later, I interned in a photo-archive which contained three more Hurrell’s of Ann, one with husband, Leslie Fenton (no, those never came home with me!).