Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 46
Today’s post comes from my colleague and friend, Glen Creason. He is known to many as the “tall and affable” Map Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library and even wrote THE book on L.A. Maps. We have worked together in the History & Genealogy Department for close to seven years, and as with most people who have had to spend an extended amount of time with me, Glen now knows more about Ann Dvorak than he ever thought he would. At least he seems to have genuinely enjoyed the ride. In return, he introduced me Lucille Cataldo and Precious Taft.
And now, with much appreciation, I turn it over to Mr. Creason:
“My Ann Dvorak Crush”
Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke. ~Lynda Barry
There is a strange phenomenon that occurs in the hearts of old movie lovers that results in extreme mooniness and unrequited movie star obsession. I learned this when I attended a fantastic silent film festival at UCLA back in the 1970’s that featured the exquisite countenances of Louise Brooks, Mary Pickford and the Gish sisters on the glorious big screen of Royce Hall. I became so enamored of Mary Pickford I went to the public library and tried to find every photo of her I could find which was actually quite a few. During that time it occurred to me that I was just one of hundred of thousands of fellas that fell for America’s sweetheart when she batted her huge, expressive eyes framed by her stylish bobbed hair. Unfortunately, my Pickford-lust faltered when the producers of the 1976 Oscars telecast decided to invade her home where the dotty old octogenarian seemed to be completely out of it. It was at that point that I learned to leave my movie star love on the silver screen and not read on to the final chapter.
That was until my co-worker Christina Rice introduced me to a doe-eyed beauty we call Miss Ann. Of course, as a kid who watched matinee movies on early TV I had seen Scarface but was sort of blinded by the overpowering evil of Paul Muni. Yet, when I revisited the same film on DVD I was mesmerized by Ann as the tough but gorgeous Cesca. This set me on an Ann-bender that ranged from the broken-hearted damsel tickling the ivories in The Strange Loves of Molly Louvain to the gravely hung-over lowest vote getter for Mother of the Year in the truly terrific Three on a Match. Ann is really hard to resist in her calf-eyed glory, even as the evil Vivian Revere. She is still sexy and appealing even as she dismisses her kid’s hungry whining by pointing at a platter of day-old toast and deviled eggs as the day’s brunch. Still Ann does redeem herself in one of the most truly shocking final scenes in all of my personal film watching history. I loved her as the tough as hell Claire “high pockets” Philips in I Was an American Spy and the stiff-upper-lip dame Jean Morgan in G-Men complete with a dazzling dance number. I have also admired her stoic bravery in The Crowd Roars, and swooned at her stylishness at a Sardi’s table in Love Is a Racket.
I still have my crush on Miss Ann but I need not search too far for images since it only requires a short stroll over to Christina Rice’s office to get my fill of La Dvorak photos in all her saucer-eyed beauty. I prefer to remember her at the piano, or looking sharp in Sardi’s or dancing up a G-Man storm on the big screen. I have heard the rest of the story…the no-good men, the overbearing Mother, the bad career choices, the wasted Honolulu days and the too early end - but it all just makes me love Ann more.