Ann Sothern tried to enter films during the silent movie era, and she obtained her first notable role in The Show of Shows (1929), one of Warner Bros.’ first all-talking pictures, with John Barrymore, Richard Barthelmess, Mary Astor, Dolores Costello, Helene Costello, Myrna Loy, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Ben Turpin, Rin Tin Tin, and Loretta Young, among others. In talking pictures or “talkies,” she had one of the longest careers of any actress in the American film industry, from a memorable series of Maisie comedies to her Academy Award-winning role in The Whales of August (1987) with Lillian Gish and Bette Davis.
The popularity of the Maisie series led to her own radio program, The Adventures of Maisie, broadcast on CBS from 1945 to 1947, on Mutual Broadcasting System in 1952, and in syndication from 1949 to 1953.
Ann was a popular star with moviegoers, thanks to her appearances in Words and Music (1948), and A Letter to Three Wives (1949).
In the 1950s, she enjoyed her greatest success on television, where she ranked with her longtime friend Lucille Ball and Eve Arden as one of the three biggest sitcom stars of that decade. In 1953, she was cast as the lead in the series Private Secretary on CBS on alternate weeks with The Jack Benny Program. Private Secretary consistently placed in the Top 10, and Ann was nominated for an Emmy Award four times.
In the 1960s, she even co-starred with Lucy for a while on The Lucy Show. While best-known as a comedienne, she was a capable dramatic actress on stage, in films, and on radio, and she was also an accomplished singer.
Collin Briggs’ richly researched biography reveals the amazing life and career of one of America’s best-loved actresses. 315 pages with a complete Filmography. Illustrated.
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