On June 18, 1929 a mysterious curtain was standing in a vacant lot at the NE corner of Wilshire Blvd & Shatto Place. At 8:30pm, the curtain dropped to reveal a “living billboard” reading METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER’S HOLLYWOOD REVUE, GRAUMAN’S CHINESE THEATRE. Sitting atop the words “Hollywood” and “Revue” were a bevy of MGM chorus girls, with the first “O” adorned by our very own Ann Dvorak.
The corner of Wilshire & Shatto is still more or less vacant – it’s a parking lot. But at least now when driving by this nondescript area, you have an excuse to think of Ann Dvorak.
Merrily We Live is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, September 20th at 5:15am PST.
We are officially in the home stretch leading towards the release date of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel (46 days to be exact).
The University Press of Kentucky is now accepting media inquiries, and have review copies of the book available. So, if you write for a newspaper/magazine/website/blog (and whatever else there is these days), please contact Cameron Ludwick over at the UPK firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am always available for interviews, so if you want to hear me talk about Ann Dvorak endlessly, go ahead and contact me directly – email@example.com.
Thanks again to all those who have been so supportive!
Perhaps it’s because I am I librarian that the presence of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel in the Library of Congress catalog is such a cheap thrill. There’s something about the record that gives this whole project an air of legitimacy, and for those of you wanting a bit of a sneak peek, the Table of Contents for the book is listed.
If I can switch into full librarian mode for a moment, the Name Authority for Ann Dvorak lists her year of birth as 1912. I have sent a message to the Library of Congress asking them to change it to the correct year, which is 1911. The copyright page of my book reflected the LOC 1912 date, which I asked the University Press of Kentucky to change though I am not sure of they are, though it would be a drag to have the copyright page and the content of my book contradict each other.
Only 47 days and counting until D(vorak)-Day!
It’s been awhile since the Warner Archive has offered up any Ann Dvorak titles, so tomorrow’s release of Love is a Racket is a welcome one. It’s not exactly a showcase of Ann’s talents and she doesn’t have much screen times, but it’s watchable enough. Given the size of Ann’s role, one may be scratching their heads as to why she would receive second billing behind Douglas Fairbanks Jr., since Lee Tracy, Frances Dee and even Lyle Talbot (in his film debut) are featured much more prominently. That would be because at the time Warner Bros. was borrowing Ann from Howard Hughes and the high billing was a stipulation of the loan out. This tidbit may cause one to scratch their heads as to why WB would take the time to acquire Ann’s services and then cast her in something so minimal. For that I have no answer.
But hey – any Ann Dvorak is good Ann Dvorak, so enjoy Love is a Racket!
Drawing from the discussion with commenter Scott on yesterday’s post, I dug up the one other photo I have from the session Clarence Sinclair Bull did with Ann Dvorak and Marjorie King (again, NOT Raquel Torres) on the beach.
The back of this photo identifies the location as Malibu. Not sure whose dog that is. This photo is numbered MG-15907 and the other one I own is MG-19523, so there are at least 16 more of the MGM lasses. And I intend to find ALL of them!
Every so often, a tidbit of incorrect Ann Dvorak info floats around that infinite realm known as the Internet and I feel compelled to correct it. As you may recall, back on Day 2 of the Year of Ann Dvorak I kvetched about an image of Ann and Marjorie King on the beach who is frequently (and bizarrely) mistaken for Raquel Torres.
Last week across the Twitterverse, the following was posted, and re-posted, and re-posted.
Fact: Lucille Ball was one of the twenty original “Goldwyn Girls”, along with Virginia Bruce, Ann Dvorak, Paulette Goddard and Betty Grable,
This misinformation has been floating around online for at least a decade, and it’s actually not a fact, at least as far as Ann Dvorak is concerned. The Goldwyn Girls were chorines used in films produced by the Samuel Goldwyn Company. Ann did appear in a Goldwyn film, 1950s Our Very Own, but in 1930 when the Goldwyn Girls made their debut, Ann was hoofing for MGM.
Perhaps Ann’s employment at Metro Goldwyn Mayer as a chorus girl caused someone some confusion at some point. However, Samuel Goldwyn never produced films for the legendary studio that bore his name, and I have never come across any documentation pointing to Ann being loaned out to another studio at that time. I don’t think there has ever been a shortage of chorus girls, so a loan out for uncredited hoofers doesn’t make much sense.
If you learn nothing else from this site, I hope you’ll note that Ann Dvorak never posed on the beach with Raquel Torres and was never a Goldwyn Girl!
I am taking the easy way out today and just posting a photo because I spent the last two nights seeing the Pixies in concert, who did not take the stage until 10pm both nights. While this would have been fine and dandy when I was 17, it’s a bit hard on the bones when you’re the same age as Jack Benny. Side note, last night’s show was at the Mayan Theater, which just may be my favorite Los Angeles movie palace (though it was originally intended as legitimate theater).
This photo of Ann is a recent eBay purchase and while there is no info on the back, my guess is that it was taken during the filming of Sky Devils in 1931. I have never seen any other images from this shoot which is saying a lot after nearly 16 years of collecting.
A couple of weeks back, I was elated to find that authors Mark Vieira and Susan Doll had generously agreed to take a sneak peek at the Dvorak manuscript and provide pull quotes. This week, the last two quotes came in and are up on the Amazon website.
First is from Michelle Morgan, who accomplished the seemingly impossible task of writing a Marilyn Monroe biography that is neither sensational tripe or redundant. Getting a quote from Michelle is kind of cheating because we are friends, but I respect her tremendously as a writer and was happy that she said the following about my book:
Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel is a treasure trove of information about this under-mentioned star. The wealth of information is stunning and the writing is full of passion and warmth. Without doubt nobody but Rice could have ever written this book. This book is a fabulous tribute to someone who deserves to be remembered.
This last quote comes from Margaret Talbot, daughter of Ann’s frequent co-star Lyle, and writer for the New Yorker. Her own book The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father’s Twentieth Century, is an excellent read and I am grateful she contributed the following:
A scrupulously researched, consistently insightful and thoroughly welcome biography. Fans and students of Hollywood’s fascinating pre-Code era will particularly appreciate a chance to learn more about one of its most sophisticated, intelligent, and hauntingly beautiful actresses.
Thanks again to all four of these talented writers for taking the time to read the Ann Dvorak book and composing a few sentences. I hope none of them were humoring me!
On September 11, 1931, a twenty-year-old Ann Dvorak appeared before a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge to receive approval to sign a contract with Howard Hughes’ Caddo Company.
Since she was under twenty-one, Ann was still considered a minor, which is why she needed the judge’s approval to sign the deal. This was not the first time Ann had made such an appearance. She had been required to obtain similar approval when she signed her MGM contract in 1929.
In addition to the court visit, the Caddo contract also had to be co-signed by Ann’s mother, Anna Lehr. What’s also interesting about the document is that Ann signed her last name D’Vorak. She made have already decided how she would pronounce her stage name (vor-zhak – not that anyone else picked up on this), but she still didn’t know how she wanted to spell it.