Dvorak Biography Progress Report #1
So, for the past few years I have been working on an Ann Dvorak biography. In 1997, I started collecting memorabilia from Ann’s films and at the time thought I should probably write a book. I did not really get serious about the project until 2002 which is when I launched the previous version of this website and started researching Ann’s life and career in ernest.
Late last year, I finally started writing the book itself which has proven to be a fairly grueling experience. Surrounded by stacks of notes, photocopies, books, magazines, and other assorted documents, I am sometimes reminded of my last semester of grad school when I was holed up in my tiny apartment with only Thelma Kitty and the sound of Betty Hutton recordings to keep me company as I frantically wrote two lengthy research papers on the fate of the library profession. I do admit that I am not exactly on a deadline and writing about Ann Dvorak is far more interesting than composing twenty pages on library security, but it still requires a certain amount of discipline that I have yet to master. In my defense, I do have a full time job and a husband who wants nothing more than to cuddle up after work and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but at this point I really want to be done with the book.
Over the years, a number of people have contacted me through this website to ask how the book is coming, and I usually feel a bit guilty by my lack of progress. As a motivating factor, I figured I would start posting progress reports which hopefully will shame me into picking up the pace. Without further ado here is the first progress report on the Ann Dvorak biography.
Progress Report #1
At this time, I have written a little over 9,000 words. The first chapter focuses on Ann’s parents who were both vaudvillians and were involved with the early film industry. Since this is probably the only time anyone is going to really explore the careers of Edwin McKim and Anna Lehr, I feel strongly about discussing them in some detail. However, writing about stage performances from a hundred years ago and lost silent films has proven to be challenging and I think I relied too heavily on quoting newspaper reviews, which can quickly become boring. I really struggled with this chapter and will definitely need to go back and rewrite parts of it.
Ann officially enters the picture in Chapter Two which talks about her early childhood, including the three films she appeared in, and her time spent in New York schools. The next chapter finds Ann living in Southern California with her mom and step dad, attending a private school, and her attempts at launching a journalism career after graduating.
I am now in the middle of the fourth Chapter where Ann has been hired as a chorine by M-G-M, and The Hollywood Revue of 1929 has premiered. This chapter will continue with her stint as a dancer on the Metro lot and some discussion of her more notable films there, as well as her inability to get the studio to cast her in more substantial roles.
Well, that’s the end of the first progress report. Hard to believe I have been officially writing for a few months, and am only up to 1929. Now that Ann is entering adulthood and I am getting to the part of her life and career that I am familiar with, I should be able to crank her story out a bit faster. Thanks to all of you who have been patiently waiting to read Ann’s story, and for all the encouragement you have given me over the years.
Progress Report #2 to come soon!