Posts in Category: This Day in History

Remembering Ann (1911-1979)

Ann Dvorak in Hawaii, 1971 (Jon Verzi Collection/Los Angeles Public Library)

It’s been nine years since my book, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel was published, which means it’s been almost a full decade of not having the self inflicted pressure of finishing the biography hanging over me. I had first conceived of writing a book on Ann in late 1997, so I spent fifteen years as a self-proclaimed Ann Dvorak biographer while never being fully confident that I would complete the task. Not having Ann looming over me for almost a decade has been a weird adjustment, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t an ever-present part of my life. My house is FILLED with Ann and I still continue to acquire new items for the collection. I am amazed at how often I am still contacted by people who have discovered Ann and the book (thank you!) and this year I gave my presentation about Ann’s Encino ranch THREE TIMES. 

This year also included a fabulous new Ann discovery. Some of you may be aware that I oversee the historic photo collection at the Los Angeles Public Library. This year, we were able to acquire an incredible collection of 35mm slides taken by Jon Verzi, a postal worker who in his spare time took photos of celebrities from the early 1960s thru the mid 1990s. The collection, which has somewhere like 12,000 slides has most people you could think of: Marilyn, Elvis, RFK, Jimi Hendrix, Andy Warhol, Harrison Ford (shirtless during his carpenter days), Gloria Swanson, Aretha Franklin, Brad Pitt, etc, etc, ETC. Amazingly, he also captured Ann. 

The above photo is from 1971 in Hawaii. I have a snapshot of Ann (included in the biography) with that same fence in the background, so this means that Verzi knocked on her door and she let him in. Judging from the expressions  in these photos, he seems to have been someone people responded positively to. I love this photo. Ann was just shy of 60 when it was taken, and while it’s not the Ann Dvorak of the 1930s/40s that we’re used to, it’s undeniably her with those Dvorak eyes and the mole on the left side of her upper lip. When I look at this Ann, I see the hard-earned wisdom of her six decades, but also a great deal of dignity. I have to admit that the way she is posed and looking at  the camera reminds me of my Grandma Mary who was of that era, so I do have affection for these rare photos of Ann in her later tears. 

Today marks forty-three years since Ann left us, so it’s a great day to watch one of her films and remember this marvelous woman and actress.   

Remembering Ann

Today marks what would have been Ann Dvorak’s 111th birthday. This year also marks my 25th year of collecting on and researching Ann. I could have never imagined back then that this woman who I never met could have such a profound impact on the course of my life, but she has and I am grateful for it. Happy Birthday to the Divine Miss D!

Remembering Ann and a Long Overdue Update

Today marks 41 years since the divine Ann Dvorak left this world. It also marks two years since I’ve posted on this site. I didn’t mean to take such long a hiatus, but you know…life and all that. Besides my library job and raising a kid who turned 10(!) this year, I have also been fairly consumed with finishing up my Jane Russell biography which is due out next June from University Press of Kentucky. My family also recently launched a podcast called Little Miss Movies. We’d love for you to take a listen! 

Just because I haven’t been posting doesn’t mean I’ve been neglecting this website. In fact, I FINALLY finished updating all of the film pages, something I had started with the redesign three years ago. I’ve also started updating and adding gallery pages including dedicated ones to Ann at home and her honeymoon with Leslie Fenton in 1932/33. The one thing that remains is updating the page on Anna Lehr, but after that, the redesign will pretty much be finished!

Christmas came early this year as Adam Roche over at the Attaboy Clarence podcast invited me on to talk about “Queen Ann.” It’s been seven years since the book came out, so it was exhilarating to have a conversation about my favorite topic once again. Don’t be deceived by my silence here, I remain as dedicated to Ann as I have always been and hope this site will continue to be the ultimate Ann Dvorak resource. 

Wishing all you Dvorak devotees a sane holiday season as we stare down this end of this lousy year. Stay safe and watch an Ann Dvorak flick for me!

Remembering Ann Dvorak (1911-1979)

Today marks 39 years since our beloved Ann Dvorak passed away in Honolulu at the age of 68. I know my life has been much more interesting and fulfilling because of her. 

Please enjoy this wonderful Ann slideshow, courtesy of PTA Blues!

Happy Birthday Ann!


Today marks what would have been Ann Dvorak’s 105th birthday. She’s been in my life for almost 20 years now and I cannot overstate the impact she has had on me. If you would have told me back then that I would author a full length biography on anyone, I would have rolled my eyes. Me? No way! And yet, I am currently able to work on a second book because Ann was such a motivating factor for the first one. Some of my dearest friends came into my life because of Ann, along with so many interesting people who I would have never encountered had it not been for her. When I was an insecure and painfully shy twenty-something, Ann helped me find my voice because I was so hell bent on making sure the world knew about her.

I pretty much celebrate Ann Dvorak’s life everyday, but on this anniversary of her birth, here’s a special tip of the cap is an amazing lady who means so much to me.

Remembering Ann Dvorak


Remembering Ann Dvorak  on this 35th anniversary of her passing.

That’s a Wrap!

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 365


At long last we have come to the 365th and final post in the Year of Ann Dvorak. And what a year it’s been! When I first decided to write a full length biography on Ann back in the late 1990s, I frequently daydreamed of the day when the book would finally be finished and out in the world. The actual release of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel exceeded all those dreams of the last 15+ years and I am ok admitting that I am proud of how it turned out. At the same time, I am extremely relieved and grateful for all the positive feedback I received so far. In case you didn’t notice, all the wonderful press and reviews have been compiled onto one page, called – Press & Book Reviews. 

As to my commitment to blog about Ann everyday for an entire year – well, that may not have been my most inspired idea. I am not sure what I hoped to accomplish by blogging daily, and now that it’s over I am not exactly sure if it really achieved much of anything. The process was rather grueling and since I was usually unable to get multiple posts queued up, every night found me uttering the phrase, “Not yet, I still have to do my blog post.” In retrospect, committing to once a week probably would have sufficed, but no one can accuse me of backing out once I set my mind on something!

For all the complaining I have done the last year over this fool’s errand, there were a handful of people who genuinely seemed to appreciate my efforts. I wanted to take a moment (or more specifically, a paragraph) to thank those who took the time to frequently comment here over the last year which reminded me that I wasn’t playing to an empty room. These fine folk included Dick P., Scott, Mike, Vienna, and JV. Your comments really fueled me to keep going! Major gratitude needs to go to the guest bloggers  who gave me a much needed break when I was finishing up the manuscript for University Press of Kentucky. Mary Mallory, Paul Petro, Daniel Nauman, Glen Creason, and Mary McCoy are the bees knees! Finally, much appreciation to Cliff Aliperti, Will McKinley, John Rabe, Danny Reid, and Kendra Bean for the many tweets and re-tweets. My sincere apologies to anyone I may have forgotten.

Finally, thanks to my husband Joshua Hale Fialkov and my daughter Gable, who thought the Ann madness had ended when I finished writing the book. Little did they know what insane heights I could rise to in the name of Ann Dvorak!

Just because the Year of Ann Dvorak is over, doesn’t mean my work here is done. I’ll still be posting news, tv airings, film screenings, etc as they come up, though I will probably take a break from writing up my random musings on Ann.  I might add that I am still a compulsive collector who is always on the prowl for new Dvorak memorabilia. The book may be out, but I am by no means finished with Ann.

Before I end this, let’s go out on a true AD note with a This Day in Ann Dvorak History factoid: On December 31, 1931 Ann Dvorak met Leslie Fenton for the first time. In less than three months, the pair would be married and Ann’s life and career would be dramatically altered.

Happy New Year!

This Day in Ann Dvorak History: Parting Ways With Warner Bros.

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 357

On December 23, 1936, gossip grand dame Louella Parsons reported that after a year of battles in and out of the courtroom, Ann Dvorak and Warner Bros. had finally decided to part ways. Ann had spent many months earlier in the year trying to get out of her contract early, but her efforts had been futile. After losing her lawsuit and any attempted appeals, Ann had reluctantly returned after being loaned out to RKO for two film. Perhaps by December Jack Warner felt he had made his point as the victor in the proceedings and reasoned it was a good time to wash his hands of her. Whatever Warner’s motives may have been, it turned out that The Case of the Stuttering Bishop would be Ann Dvorak’s last film under her Warner Bros. contract. Ann’s last day on the Burbank lot was actually December 19th, and when filming wrapped her last paycheck was already cut and handed to her. With that, Ann Dvorak left the place that had been her home away from home for the previous three years.

This Day In Ann Dvorak History: Desperately Seeking Dad

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 350


By December of 1933, Ann Dvorak had become a known name around Hollywood for her acting as well as for walking out on her Warner Bros. contract for an 8-month honeymoon. She may not have been Jack Warner’s favorite person at the time, but many members of the press found Ann interesting enough to run her plea to find her father in their newspapers.

Edwin McKim was divorced from Ann’s mom, Anna Lehr, sometime in the early 1920s. Subsequent years were spent in Pittsburgh, New York, and Florida. All the while he had no contact with his only child even though he longed to and vice versa. Ann used her celebrity to her advantage, and on December 16, 1933 newspapers around the country ran her request to be reunited with her father. Countless false leads came through, but in early February of 1934, Edwin McKim finally reappeared in Philadelphia.

McKim was elated that his daughter had found him, but insisted on paying his own train fare. It took him six months, but he finally made it to Southern California in August 1934. The reunion was a successful one and Ann stayed in contact with her father until his death in 1942.

This Day in Ann Dvorak History: “People Like Us” Does NOT Open at the Court Theatre

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 292

People like us

On October 19, 1949, a staged version of  People Like Us was slated to open at the Court Theatre in New York City. The play, written by Frank Vosper, was to star Ann Dvorak and Sidney Blackmer as real-life accused British murderers Edith Thompson and Frederick Bywaters. Unfortunately, an inexperienced and corrupt producer, along with some bumpy previews in Canada caused the production to fold before it made it to Broadway. The experience was so traumatic that Ann Dvorak swore off live theater permanently.

I actually go into a great amount of detail about People Like Us  in the book. So yeah, 300 days into the Year of Ann Dvorak and less than three weeks away from the book release and I’m getting a bit lazy here, but thanks for sticking around!