Guest Blogger Mary Mallory on Ann Dvorak & Myron Selznick
Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 35
Actor William Powell with agent Myron Selznick (Image from Corbis)
Today I bring you the first post from a guest blogger. What? You didn’t seriously think I was going to be able to keep this up EVERY day for a year, did you?
Guest Blogger #1 is Mary Mallory, a writer and film historian. She wrote the Arcadia Publishing book “Hollywoodland” in 2011 and blogs for the LA Daily Mirror on Los Angeles and motion picture history. Mallory serves on the board of Hollywood Heritage and on the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Studio City Neighborhood Council.
Just to set-up Mary’s post: When Ann returned from her eight-month European honeymoon in March of 1933, which Warner Bros. did not approve of, she needed someone to smooth things over while still getting her a decent contract deal. Myron Selznick was the man she turned to.
Now, here’s Mary:
Ann Dvorak made the leap from chorus girl to star in 1932 with her appearance in Sky Devils, cemented by her electrifying turn in Scarface. Being a star required having a strong agent to look after your interests, both regarding salary and casting.
Dvorak found that in Myron Selznick, a tough, savvy former producer and studio executive. Selznick, the older brother of David O. Selznick, represented such Warner Bros. stars as Ruth Chatterton, Kay Francis, Constance Bennett, and William Powell. With his production background and take no prisoners attitude, Selznick was the perfect person to have in your corner, as long as you followed his rules.
Myron Selznick made the talent agent the ultimate power in Hollywood. He was the first to gain his clients the right to participate in choosing scripts and co-stars, as well as the first to package talent, gain profit participation for above the line people, and set stars up in independent production companies.
There was only so much an agent could do, however, if a client failed to follow instructions and obey general studio strictures or leave contract matters to the agency.
Selznick liked women with spunk, women with strong minds and opinions, but ones who knew how to make strategic moves. Ann’s impetuousness sank her prospects at Warner’s, something even an agent as powerful as Selznick could do little to rectify.
Much appreciation to Mary for the excellent post and for stepping up as the first Guest Blogger. Also, for giving me the day off!
If anyone else out there is interested in contributing to the Year of Ann Dvorak, please let me know! My only requirements are that it somehow relates to Ann, reflects the personality of the author (Mary Mallory has been researching Selznick for years), and is fun for the author to do! After spouting off my opinions on Ann Dvorak for years, it’s great to hear other people’s perspectives.