Here are two more photos I submitted to UPK that were not used for the cover of the book. These two are kind of in the middle of the first ones I posted and the one that was actually used. They’re a bit more pre-Code-like because Ann is showing some skin, but her expression is not as seductive as the one that was ultimately used.
I have hundreds of portraits of Ann so narrowing it down to the seven I submitted was a delightful ordeal.
On Tuesday I posted one of the photos I submitted for the book cover which was not selected. Since there was an interest in seeing the rest of them and I need to write another 200+ posts this year, I figured I would go ahead and spend the next few days sharing the rest of the portraits that were passed over by the publisher.
This one is actually from the same session as Tuesday’s portrait which was taken in early 1932. The pose is more serious than the other one, but I still think it captures Ann and she looks lovely. However, now that I am looking at it, the shadow almost makes her look like she has a black eye, which may be one of many reasons why is was not chosen.
I have spent years extolling the virtues of Ann’s abbreviated performance in A Life of Her Own. Now you can see for yourself, courtesy of the Warner Archive. The 1950 M-G-M melodrama starring Lana Turner and directed by George Cukor came at the end of Ann’s career, and is arguably the one she deserved an Oscar nod for. She clocks in at around 10 minutes of screen time, but dominates the entire film as a washed-up fashion model who serves as an omen for Lana who is the new kid on the block. Unfortunately, Ann exits the movie via a high-rise window pretty early on, and you may spend the rest of the movie hoping she survived the fall. I know that’s what I thought the one time I sat through the entire thing back in 1997.
A Life of Her Own really drives home just how powerful Ann could be onscreen when she had a director of Cukor’s caliber. However, the movie fell flat at the box office, and Cukor himself hated it, so Ann’s performance did not garner the attention it should have at the time. $18.95 may seem like a high price for 10 watchable minutes of a film, but Ann’s performance is so good that I think it’s worth paying $1.90 a minute to watch it.
When it came time to submit everything for the book, I decided to give the designers over at University Press of Kentucky a variety of photos to choose from for the cover. I was not surprised with the image they chose, which screams “pre-Code” and is more than likely to turn a few heads, and hopefully sell a few books. While I am thrilled with how the cover turned out, I actually think the photo is very un-Ann-like. She usually did not look this sultry in photos and did not play overtly sexual characters too often, the obvious exception being Scarface.
Since I am not a graphic designer or a publisher, and did not have strong feelings about what image should go on the cover, I was more than happy to let them decide. But – if I did have to say which photo I was secretly rooting for, it would be this one. It’s not a super glamorous or sexy shot of Ann, but I really think it reflects her more than the one that was chosen. She looks elegant but simple as well as confident and intelligent. As great as the sultry photo is, I think the person in this photo is the one that will be found on the pages of the book.
Two weeks ago, I purchased a box of Ann’s personal possessions which included a scrapbook of photos from her travels with first husband Leslie Fenton, and a handful from her later years. My publisher, the University Press of Kentucky, was good enough to let me include some of these photos even though we are well into the production phase. However, because the price point had already been set based on the number of photos already submitted, I could not added any more images but could only switch them out.
I ended up using six photos from the collection, which means I needed to axe an equal amount. This is one of the sacrificed photos, showing Ann behind the scenes of the Paramount feature Masquerade in Mexico. The film is not one of my favorites, but I love the photo. Ann looks absolutely flawless, and since her costumes are completely outlandish in the film, I like that she’s in full hair and make-up but is wearing casual clothes. Well, casual clothes and a fur coat.
I’m sorry this one is not going in the book, but I think it was worth it in order to include some of the photos from Ann’s personal collection.
This is a portrait of Ann during the time she was making A Life of Her Own at M-G-M in 1950. In all my years of collecting on Ann, I had never seen any publicity shots from the film, other than the standard scene stills, so I was thrilled when this popped up on eBay earlier in the year. She was 38 or 39 when this was taken, and her career would be done within two years. In A Life of Her Own, her character is a washed-up fashion model and it seems as if she were made-up to look a bit run down and past her prime, but this photo shows how gorgeous she still was.
This is one of my personal favorites, and I had submitted it to be included in the book. However, this ended up being one of the images that was cut in order to make room for the honeymoon scrapbook photos, so it’s now here to enjoy instead.
I am heading off to my kid sister’s college graduation. In honor of this momentous occasion, here is a photo of Margaret Lindsay, Jean Muir, and Ann Dvorak in Gentlemen Are Born. The film was originally titled Just Out of College, and is the not-so-uplifting story of a group of college grads who are unable to start their post-grad careers and can barely make ends meet in the midst of the Great Depression. The film is a great example of how Warner Bros. reflected social issues of the day, and sadly the content of Gentlemen Are Born is too far removed from current times. It is an interesting film, though a complete waste of Ann’s talents.
It’s Friday, and I am heading into a four day holiday weekend, which includes my kid sister’s graduation and a day at Disneyland. So, here’s a fun pic of Ann from The Walls of Jericho acting mortified because she just shot Cornel Wilde.
Ann Dvorak was not a big star, so she did not appear in big budget movies. This means she never made any films in color, except for the early two-color Technicolor titles at MGM when she was a chorus girl. She was seldom photographed in color as well, and in 15 years of collecting on Ann, I have only seen a handful of color shots.
This is one I found on eBay a few years back. Since Ann is sporting the titian tresses,and judging by the hairstyle, it’s probably from around 1947 when she was filming The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. I think she looks quite regal in this image. Ann was a chronic sun-worshiper so it’s unusual for her to look so pale, though she also looks absolutely flawless.
It’s really too bad we never got to see her in glorious 3-strip Technicolor.
After a crazy week of going through all the items in the Ann Dvorak personal collection and revising the manuscript, I am happy to report that the revisions are done and approved, and everything has been sent to the designer.
I really have to hand it to the University Press of Kentucky for being so accommodating. Even though we were down to the wire, my copy editor didn’t think twice about having me incorporate the new information, which meant revising four chapters. She even had me write a preface to discuss some of the craziness I have encountered because of Ann. Fortunately, the materials in the collection tightened up the timeline of Ann’s final years and gave some great personal insight, allowing me to eliminate a lot of speculation in the last chapter.
I didn’t even bother to ask about using any of the photos because I was sure it was too late. Instead, they asked me if I wanted to use any of them. Since the price point for the book had already been set based on 69 photos, I could not add any, but was able to swap out some of the others. What I ended up using from the personal collection was four photos from the honeymoon scrapbook, one of Ann and her mother in 1969, and one of Ann taken five months before her death. The previous selections that were eliminated were all studio-issued photos, so no candids were sacrificed.
Even though the last week has been nuts and I am sick and tired of working on this book, I am thrilled to have been able to tie up some loose ends and include a summary of Ann’s life in her own words. I always thought this book took an embarrassingly long time to finish, but in the end it really took as long as it needed to take. Had it been scheduled to come out even a week earlier, these new finds, which are significant, would not have made it in. At this point, I honestly think the book is about as perfect as I could possibly make it – until it’s released and an avalanche of new info cascades on top of me.