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Ann Sothern

Ann Sothern

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Also Known As: Harriette Lake, Harriet Lake, Harriette Lake Died: March 15, 2001
Born: January 22, 1909 Cause of Death: heart failure
Birth Place: Valley City, North Dakota, USA Profession: actor, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Singer and comedienne Ann Sothern turned heads and amused audiences via her ability to deliver sharp dialogue with verve and comedic bite. After appearances in Broadway musicals, Sothern earned her keep in B-movies, but finally hit her stride as a contract player at MGM, where she toplined the company's popular series of "Maisie" pictures. Although Sothern eventually tired of playing the brassy Brooklyn showgirl, audiences loved her in the role, and the actress also impressed with her turn in the critically acclaimed "A Letter to Three Wives" (1949). Upon hitting her forties, Sothern found fewer motion pictures opportunities, but her popularity was reignited with the sitcoms "Private Secretary" (CBS, 1953-57) and "The Ann Sothern Show" (CBS, 1958-1961), which earned Sothern several Emmy nominations. Her movie and television work slowed down in the decade that followed and an unfortunate accident during the 1970s gave Sothern back issues that rendered her unable to act for an extended period. She did manage to step before the cameras again, but unlike many veteran performers who end their career on a depressing note, Sothern exited the business with Lindsay Anderson's widely praised "The Whales of...

Singer and comedienne Ann Sothern turned heads and amused audiences via her ability to deliver sharp dialogue with verve and comedic bite. After appearances in Broadway musicals, Sothern earned her keep in B-movies, but finally hit her stride as a contract player at MGM, where she toplined the company's popular series of "Maisie" pictures. Although Sothern eventually tired of playing the brassy Brooklyn showgirl, audiences loved her in the role, and the actress also impressed with her turn in the critically acclaimed "A Letter to Three Wives" (1949). Upon hitting her forties, Sothern found fewer motion pictures opportunities, but her popularity was reignited with the sitcoms "Private Secretary" (CBS, 1953-57) and "The Ann Sothern Show" (CBS, 1958-1961), which earned Sothern several Emmy nominations. Her movie and television work slowed down in the decade that followed and an unfortunate accident during the 1970s gave Sothern back issues that rendered her unable to act for an extended period. She did manage to step before the cameras again, but unlike many veteran performers who end their career on a depressing note, Sothern exited the business with Lindsay Anderson's widely praised "The Whales of August" (1987), which earned her a long overdue Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Widely respected by both audiences and her peers for the sharp comedic ability she displayed for years in film and on television, Sothern earned her place in both mediums and enjoyed a solid and loyal fan base right up to the end of her life.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Whales of August, The (1987) Tisha Doughty
2.
 Letter to Three Wives, A (1985) Ma Finney
3.
 Little Dragons, The (1980) Angel
4.
 The Manitou (1978) Mrs Karmann
5.
 Crazy Mama (1976) Sheba Stokes
6.
 Golden Needles (1974) Finzie
7.
 Great Man's Whiskers, The (1973) Aunt Margaret Bancroft
8.
 Killing Kind, The (1973) Thelma
9.
 Weekend Nun, The (1972) Mother Bonaventure
10.
 Congratulations, It's a Boy! (1971) Ethel Gaines
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Nomadic childhood, following mother's travels as a concert singer
1929:
Had bit in early sound musical, "The Show of Shows" (as Harriet Lake)
1930:
Broadway debut in chorus of Florenz Ziegfeld's "Smiles"
1931:
First leading role on Broadway in Rodgers and Hart's "America's Sweetheart"
1933:
Returned to Hollywood and appeared (unbilled) in "Broadway Through a Keyhole"
1933:
Signed contract with Columbia; dyed hair from red to platinum blonde
1934:
Began achieving success in leading roles
1936:
Left Columbia and signed seven-year contract with RKO; acted opposite Gene Raymond in several popular comedies and musicals
1939:
Sought to be released from RKO contract and joined MGM in first of series of "Maisie" films
1947:
Last film as Maisie, "Undercover Maisie"
1950:
Left MGM; last films there, "Nancy Goes to Rio" and "Shadow on the Wall"
:
Starred on first TV series, "Private Secretary"
:
Provided the voice of a woman reincarnated as an automobile on the sitcom "My Mother, the Car"
:
Toured in "The Glass Menagerie", "Gypsy" and "The Solid Gold Cadillac"
1987:
Returned to films to play supporting role in "The Whales of August"; received Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Washington: Seattle , Washington -

Notes

Sothern's agents reportedly turned down an offer for the actress to play the older courtesan in "Zorba the Greek" when Simone Signoret withdrew from the project. The part went to Lila Kedrova who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

"I guess in the old days we just got by on glamor. Hollywood sold its stars on good looks and personality buildups. We weren't really actresses in the true sense. We were just big names--the products of a good publicity department". --Ann Sothern (in 1970s)

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Roger Pryor. Orchestra leader. Maried in 1936; divorced in 1942.
husband:
Robert Sterling. Socialite, actor. Married in 1943; divorced in 1949; father of Tisha Sterling.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Annette Yde-Lake. Concert singer, diction coach. Worked in Hollywood in early sound era as diction and vocal coach.
daughter:
Tisha Sterling. Actor. Born December 10, 1944; father Robert Sterling; survived her.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Ann Sothern: A Bio-Bibliography" Greenwood Press

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