For the last year and a half I have occasionally written articles for the Huffington Post on behalf of the Los Angeles Public Library (a list of my contributions can be found at the bottom of this page). Yesterday, they were good enough to indulge me by running a post about Ann Dvorak that I wrote. For the Dvorak faithful, it’s all pretty basic info that I am hoping will appeal to the casual reader. However, I did dive into the honeymoon scrapbook I acquired earlier in the year and scanned some of the photos. They are all unseen, including on this site or the in the book, so it’s worth checking out if just for the images which show a young and vibrant Ann with her whole life ahead of her.
Well, I guess we remember Ann Dvorak here everyday, but on this particular day let’s take a moment to think about the Divine Miz D on the 34th anniversary of her passing. It was on December 10, 1979 that Ann succumbed to cancer at the Straub Clinic & Hospital in Honolulu. This photo was taken the previous July by her childhood friend Leona Cary who was visiting Ann and making plans to relocate to Hawaii from California. She looks much older than her 68 years, but she was already sick at the time and her body had endured years of alcohol abuse, along with the physical and mental abuse from her last husband. But, those Dvorak eyes are still there and big as ever, and for Ann to be clutching a kitty is definitely in character. Despite being on a very fixed income and residing in less than optimal living conditions, that always active mind of hers was still racing in many different directions and she didn’t seem defeated by her circumstances.
On this December 10th, let’s raise a glass and remember the woman who gave us many memorable performances and some great off screen stories as well.
College Coach is going to be on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, December 11th at 5:30PST.
I usually post these film airings the day before, so please note that is is earlier than usual because tomorrow’s post is already spoken for.
I am thrilled to announce that today’sÂ Honolulu Star Advertiser is running a feature about Ann Dvorak who was a resident of Hawaii the last 20 years of her life. The current issues are behind a paywall so I cannot post a link today, but hopefully it will be accessible in the very near future. I will say that it’s a fantastic write up, especially considering that the reporter had to whittle down my blathering from our hour and a half phone conversation earlier in the week.
I was happy to see the coverage in this newspaper for a couple of reasons. First off, it was Ann’s adopted home and she loved the place but resided there in such anonymity that most current day residents have no clue who she is. Hopefully this will pique the interest of at least a handful of folks on the islands. Second, I was hoping having an article in this paper might shed some light on what happened to Ann’s portrait painting of herself.
The painting, as you can see above was rather large and probably done by artist Edward School in 1933. I received confirmation from various people over the years that she had it hanging up in numerous residences, including her last apartment 1979. It’s so large, that I find it unlikely it would have been thrown away or shipped off Oahu, so I am thinking that it’s still around and hanging up in a restaurant or someone’s garage somewhere on the island.
I am hoping that the above photo ran in the hard copy of the paper, because it’s not on theÂ Advertiser’s online version. Just in case someone reads the article and starts hitting the search engines for more info, here it is.
Fingers crossed that the painting is still around, and the owner wants to see it cared for – by me!
As I make the final touches on my pre-Code lecture for this afternoon, here’s an oldie but a goodie from my Ann Dvorak collection. I guess everything I have is an oldie, but this piece goes all the way back to 1916. As many of you already know, Ann technically made her film debut as a tot in the featureÂ Ramona. Credited as “Baby Anna Lehr,” she was only in the prologue (on a reel that is now “lost”) and played the title character as a child. Despite this limited screen time, Ann garnered excellent notices, and as we can see from the above sheet music was featured not once, but twice!
I think that kid may have a future in pictures.
Tomorrow, I am going to be giving a brief lecture on pre-Code cinema followed by a screening of an Ann Dvorak film. The program is going to be at Central Library where I work, and our licensing agreement with the studios prevents the film title or studio from being advertised. I am not sure if that agreement actually extends to this website, but I would rather not take any chances. So, I will just say that the lecture will be followed by a screening of a pre-Code gem starring Ann Dvorak, Joan Blondell, and Bette Davis as childhood friends who are reunited years later, causing Dvorak’s life to derail after she’s the third to light her cigarette on a match.
Start time is 2pm in the Taper Auditorium, and it’s FREE! Full details can be found here.
Sorry for the abbreviated (and late) post. Still dealing with this flu.
Well, I feel way worse today than I did yesterday so I am going to treat you to possibly the weirdest Ann Dvorak bit I have come across on the web.
I have apparently reached that point in life where things these crazy kids are doing online eludes my sensibilities, so I am not exactly sure what this site Polyvore is. Can you actually shop there? Is it just a place for people to put together creative designs for others to admire? All of the above? What I do know is that someone has put together an outfit either inspired by or in tribute to Ann Dvorak.
The quotes included do not come from Ann, but the outfit does have a 1930s feel to it. Â And hey, any Ann is good Ann so we Dvorak faithful appreciate it.
I am currently succumbing to some sort of flu, so today’s post is purely visual. Here is a snapshot from the honeymoon scrapbook of Ann enjoying the winter holidays, possibly in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1932.
At various points in Ann Dvorak’s life, if you had asked her if she would rather be an actress or a writer, she may have opted for the latter. Writing was a personal love of Ann’s and something she always engaged it. As a child she would fill reams of paper with poetry which she occasionally shared with her mother. She claimed to have worked on the newspaper at her private school and to have been briefly employed at theÂ Los Angeles Times as a cub reporter after graduating.
There were occasionally rumors Ann’s writing being published including a book of poetry, an account of her eight-month honeymoon, and a play she had written about her parents called “Vaudeville Days.” Unfortunately, none of these projects came to pass. She finally fulfilled this personal dream during the Second World War where she wrote articles for a newspaper syndicate, a British publication, and even for a couple of American movie magazines. In fact, when she came back to the United States from England, she is identified on the ship manifest as being a writer.
In later life, Ann launched an impressively ambitions project called “Historical Digest,” where she penned an 18 volume history of the world and recorded herself reading it. Aimed at being a teaching aid for university courses, the opus was not embraced by the academic community. I still have hopes that a copy of “Historical Digest” will one day appear.
The above photo of Ann engaged in one of her favorite hobbies is from her honeymoon scrapbook.