As inspirational as it is to learn about Stars who continue to work and entertain well into their advanced years, sometimes it is even more gratifying when we hear about someone who is willing, even anxious to leave the Hollywood rat-race while they are at the top of their game so that they can enjoy a somewhat normal life with the fruits of their labors.
Ann Blyth was born in Mt Kisco, New York, 1928, and moved to New York City with her mother and older sister after her parents divorced. The girls attended Catholic schools and Ann began to show signs of showbiz talent. She began singing on local radio programs by the time she was five and was soon acting in radio dramas and soap operas. Her first stage experience came in the WWII propaganda play “Watch on the Rhine” (1941). When the company took the show on the road, Ann was offered a screen test after performing in Los Angeles.
She signed with Universal, then the smallest of the “big studios” and made her film debut in Chip Off the Old Block (1944) with Donald O’Connor. Universal went on to use her in a series of B-grade musicals until loaning her to Warner Bros to co-star against type with Joan Crawford in the classic Mildred Pierce (1945) as Pierce’s conniving and evil daughter. Blyth earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance.
Just as the publicity from her success in Mildred Pierce was beginning to take hold, Ann was thrown from a toboggan while sledding with friends at Lake Arrowhead and broke her back. With her mother’s support, Ann made a full recovery after a long and painful convalescence. She made a cameo in Brute Force (1947) from her wheelchair, and she eventually continued with her serious roles in Killer McCoy (1947). Ann also appeared in Another Part of the Forest (1948, a prequel to Little Foxes, Ann played a younger version of Bette Davis’s character), opposite William Powell in the light-hearted Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948), as a wrongfully convicted murderess in Thunder on the Hill (1951), and as a Russian Countess and Gregory Peck‘s romantic interest in The World In His Arms (1952).
Ann lost her mother soon after recovering from her accident and moved in with her aunt and uncle in San Fernando. One of the most attractive bachelorettes in Hollywood, the gossip columnists kept a close watch on her dating habits. Jack Benny‘s singing sidekick Dennis Day introduced Ann to his brother, Dr. James McNulty, and the pair hit it off immediately. Ann was a June bride when they were married in North Hollywood in 1953, and she began to slow her film career. Her last movie was The Helen Morgan Story (1957) co-starring newcomer Paul Newman. Although Ann’s voice was very similar to Morgan’s, her songs were dubbed by popular singer Gogi Grant. The soundtrack album was more successful than the film.
Blyth continued to work on stage and television, but her family had become her primary focus. Her last professional appearance was as a guest star on Murder, She Wrote in 1985. She stayed married to McNulty until his death in 2007, and she is still seen at social functions and conventions.
A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6733 Hollywood Blvd was dedicated in 1960 to honor Ann Blyth‘s contributions to Motion Pictures.