Ann Rutherford


Actor
Ann Rutherford

About

Also Known As
Therese Ann Rutherford
Birth Place
Toronto, Ontario, CA
Born
November 02, 1920
Died
June 11, 2012

Biography

At the height of her acting career, Ann Rutherford had every teenage boy in America wishing she were his girlfriend. Her saccharine sweet portrayal of Polly Benedict, the charming and loyal girlfriend to Mickey Rooney’s exuberant and love struck Andy Hardy in films such as "You’re Only Young Once" (1937) and "Love Finds Andy Hardy" (1938), cemented Rutherford’s status as an all-American ...

Photos & Videos

Whistling in the Dark - Lobby Cards
Pride and Prejudice - Scene Stills
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary - Publicity Stills

Family & Companions

David May
Husband
Actor.
William Dozier
Husband
Producer. Married from 1953 until his death in 1981.

Biography

At the height of her acting career, Ann Rutherford had every teenage boy in America wishing she were his girlfriend. Her saccharine sweet portrayal of Polly Benedict, the charming and loyal girlfriend to Mickey Rooney’s exuberant and love struck Andy Hardy in films such as "You’re Only Young Once" (1937) and "Love Finds Andy Hardy" (1938), cemented Rutherford’s status as an all-American sweetheart. Her universal appeal – boys loved her and girls wanted to be her – launched the actress’ career and made her a marquee name in movie classics such as "A Christmas Carol" (1938) and "Pride and Prejudice" (1940). Yet no other film in Rutherford’s extensive résumé held the enduring popularity and cultural impact as "Gone with the Wind" (1939), a cinematic masterpiece told through the eyes of Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh). Rutherford played Scarlett’s optimistic younger sister Carreen in the film that crossed genres and went on to be considered one of the greatest movies of all time. After making a few unremarkable films in the 1940s, she later acted in television until retiring from show business in the 1970s. In 2009, Rutherford celebrated the 70th anniversary of "Gone with the Wind," as one of that cast’s – and the Golden Age’s – last remaining survivors before her death in 2012.

Therese Ann Rutherford was born on Nov. 2, 1920 (some sources say 1917) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to John Rutherford, a former Metropolitan Opera singer, and Lillian Mansfield, a silent screen actress. Her family moved shortly after her birth to California, where the future star attended Fairfax High School. It was apparent even at an early age that the pretty young woman was destined for a creative career. Rutherford was a star debater at her school, played the piano, and dabbled in sculpting. She made her stage debut in 1925 and began her acting career by appearing in local theater productions and on radio shows. Rutherford first appeared onscreen in 1935 with a handful of feature films, including "Waterfront Lady" and "The Fighting Marines." That year also saw the young actress playing opposite Gene Autry in the Western classics "Melody Trail" and "The Singing Vagabond." Her work with Autry, "The Singing Cowboy," established her as one of the most highly sought after leading ladies in Western films. She soon acted opposite John Wayne, another icon from the genre, in 1936’s "The Oregon Trail" and "The Lawless Nineties." Rutherford showed maturity well beyond her age and committed to all her roles, even when it required her to learn to swim underwater, which she mastered – with the help of Larry "Buster" Crabbe – for the 1936 feature "Down to the Sea."

Major movie studios soon took notice of Rutherford who, at 17 years old, signed with MGM. The studio launched the young actress’ career into orbit by casting her in the role of a lifetime – Polly Benedict in the "Andy Hardy" film series. While the role of Polly, Andy’s girlfriend, was initially played by Margaret Marquis in "A Family Affair" (1937), Rutherford stepped into the role in "You’re Only Young Once" and proceeded to play her in the next 12 immensely popular films. Rooney played Andy, a teenager living in the fictional town of Carvel who bumbles his way through a series of romantic misadventures. Rutherford’s doe-eyed charm and her picture perfect onscreen chemistry with the delightful actor turned her into America’s sweetheart. As the ever-faithful Polly, the actress created a new image of the modern teenage girl: sweet but not a goody-goody, alluring but neither lewd nor flashy. Although the relationship between Andy and Polly had its rocky moments – he often became entangled with other girls – including Judy Garland and Lana Turner among them – which was the focus of the fourth film "Love Finds Andy Hardy." Despite this, the couple always managed to work it out in the end.

Rutherford’s girl-next-door appeal on and off screen was extremely appealing to Depression-era audiences. The actress received heaps of fan mail, often attached with photos of her admirers posing next to a family jalopy that resembled the one Andy drove in the films. College fraternities even named her as their official sweetheart. Rutherford was well aware that her popularity came with some power. While under contract with MGM, the actress received a hefty raise from studio mogul Louis B. Mayer while some stars – including Rooney – failed to do so at the height of their careers. Rutherford told Mayer she had promised her mother a new house, showed him how little she had in her checkbook, and received her raise. She appeared in 1942’s "Andy Hardy’s Double Life" at the age of 22, her last time playing the much-loved character Polly. However, Rutherford had established another film character, the tough and straightforward Carol Lambert opposite Red Skelton’s wisecracking Wally "The Fox" Benton, in a trio of comedic mysteries: "Whistling in the Dark" (1941), "Whistling in Dixie" (1942), and "Whistling in Brooklyn" (1943).

While Rutherford’s acting résumé included some of the most beloved films of all time, none matched the scope and grandeur of 1939’s "Gone With the Wind," considered a masterpiece from Hollywood’s Golden Age. The actress played Carreen O’Hara, one of three daughters born to a wealthy plantation owner during the Civil War. Her headstrong older sister Scarlett (Leigh) was the central character in the film epic that also starred Clark Gable, Leslie Howard and Olivia DeHavilland. It was reported that Judy Garland – Rutherford’s "Andy Hardy" series co-star – was initially offered the role of Carreen but turned it down because she was filming "The Wizard of Oz" that same year. "GWTW" was also a co-production and studio head Mayer was apprehensive to lend out Rutherford’s contract to the film’s producer David O. Selznick at Selznick International for such part that he described as a "nothing role." A fan of the book, Rutherford resorted to tears, begging Mayer with the argument that with this film, there was "no nothing part for anybody!" Mayer acquiesced yet again and Rutherford scored the role.

Although "GWTW" focused mainly on the complicated relationship between Leigh and Gable’s characters, Rutherford’s encouraging Carreen captivated audiences whenever she stepped foot on screen, whether criticizing Scarlett for dancing with too many young men at the plantation barbecue or working the plantation fields to help rebuild Tara, the family’s beloved mansion. At nearly four hours long, "Gone With the Wind" transcended all film genres, was a commercial success, and won a record-making 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, in 1940. In 1998, The American Film Institute named "Gone with the Wind" one of the Top 100 Films of all time behind only "Citizen Kane" (1941), "Casablanca" (1942), and "The Godfather" (1972).

Rutherford continued to work for MGM and appeared in a handful of non-"Andy Hardy" projects that eventually became classics in their own right. The actress played the hauntingly beautiful Spirit of Christmas Past opposite Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" and portrayed the immature and self-involved Lydia Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice." She left MGM in the early 1940s, yet remained a steady working actress, starring in the comedy "Bedside Manner" (1945) and the fantasy romance hit "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1947). She also raised a family with first husband David May of the May Company retail chain, whom she married in 1942 and had two children with. The couple divorced in 1953 and that same year, she married husband No. 2, "Batman" (ABC, 1966-68) producer William Dozier. Rutherford was the subject of a fictional book by Katherine Heisenfelt titled Ann Rutherford and the Key to Nightmare Hall (1942). The young adult novel, about a young "Nancy Drew"-type crime solver, shared the actress’ name and appearance yet had no connection to her whatsoever. Her film career slowed down after "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" yet there was another medium waiting to welcome the talented star. She made her small screen debut on the anthology series "Nash Airflyte Theater" (CBS, 1950-51), acting opposite Otto Kruger in the episode titled "The Doll in the Pink Silk Dress."

Rutherford was a frequent guest star on the mystery drama series "Perry Mason" (CBS, 1957-1966), playing a variety of characters. Rutherford returned to feature films in the 1972 thriller "They Only Kill Their Masters," starring James Garner and Katharine Ross. The movie, released by Rutherford’s former studio MGM, was ironically filmed on the old "Andy Hardy" set. The veteran actress also made a comedic splash playing Bob Hartley’s (Bob Newhart) mother-in-law Aggie on the classic sitcom "The Bob Newhart Show" (CBS, 1972-1978). She made a cameo as a studio secretary in "Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood" (1976), her final film before retiring from acting. Many years later, James Cameron offered Rutherford the role of Rose DeWitt Bukater in "Titanic" (1997) but turned it down. The role of old Rose eventually went to fellow Golden Ager, Gloria Stuart.

While retired from acting, Rutherford continued supporting "Gone With the Wind" at every opportunity, making special appearances to meet with fans all over the world. She commemorated the classic film’s 70th anniversary at a November 2009 event held in Marietta, GA. Joining Rutherford were castmates Mickey Kuhn (Beau Wilkes), Patrick Curtis (baby Beau Wilkes), Greg Geise (infant Bonnie and infant Beau) and Geneva Miller Roberts (extra from the barbecue scene). The movie’s biggest name survivor, Olivia DeHavilland (Melanie Hamilton Wilkes) was unable to attend, due to living overseas in Paris. Only four years after her onscreen big sister Evelyn Keyes had died, Rutherford passed away on June 11, 2012 at her Beverly Hills home, leaving DeHavilland the sole surviving major cast member of "Gone with the Wind."

By Marc Cuenco

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Making Of A Legend: Gone With The Wind (1988)
The Slipper and the Rose (1976)
Princess
They Only Kill Their Masters (1972)
Gloria
Operation Haylift (1950)
Clara Masters
Adventures of Don Juan (1949)
Donna Elena
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)
Gertrude Griswald
Murder in the Music Hall (1946)
Gracie
Inside Job (1946)
Claire Gray
The Madonna's Secret (1946)
Linda North, also known as Linda Morgan
Two O'Clock Courage (1945)
Patty Mitchell
Bedside Manner (1945)
Lola Cross
Bermuda Mystery (1944)
Constance Martin
Whistling in Brooklyn (1943)
Carol Lambert
Happy Land (1943)
Lenore Prentiss
Orchestra Wives (1942)
Connie Wardrobe Abbott
Whistling in Dixie (1942)
Carol Lambert
This Time for Keeps (1942)
Katherine White
Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942)
Polly Benedict
The Courtship of Andy Hardy (1942)
Polly Benedict
Washington Melodrama (1941)
Laurie Claymore
Badlands of Dakota (1941)
Anne Grayson
Whistling in the Dark (1941)
Carol Lambert
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941)
Polly Benedict
Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)
Polly Benedict
Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Lydia Bennet
Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940)
Polly Benedict
Keeping Company (1940)
Mary Thomas
Wyoming (1940)
Lucy Kincaid
The Ghost Comes Home (1940)
Billie Adams
These Glamour Girls (1939)
Mary Rose Wilston
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939)
Polly Benedict
The Hardys Ride High (1939)
Polly Benedict
Judge Hardy and Son (1939)
Polly Benedict
Four Girls in White (1939)
Patricia Page
Dancing Co-Ed (1939)
Eve [Greeley]
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Carreen [O'Hara]
Dramatic School (1938)
Yvonne
A Christmas Carol (1938)
Spirit of Christmas Past
Of Human Hearts (1938)
Annie Hawks
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
Polly Benedict
Judge Hardy's Children (1938)
Polly Benedict
Out West with the Hardys (1938)
Polly Benedict
Live, Love and Learn (1937)
Class president
The Bride Wore Red (1937)
Peasant girl
The Devil Is Driving (1937)
Kitty Wooster
You're Only Young Once (1937)
Polly Benedict
Public Cowboy No. 1 (1937)
Helen Morgan
Espionage (1937)
Girl in dining car
The Oregon Trail (1936)
Anne Ridgley
The Lawless Nineties (1936)
Janet Carter
The Lonely Trail (1936)
Virginia
Comin' Round the Mountain (1936)
Dolores Moreno
The Harvester (1936)
Ruth Jameson
Down to the Sea (1936)
Helen Pappas
Doughnuts and Society (1936)
Joan Dugan
Melody Trail (1935)
Millicent Thomas
The Singing Vagabond (1935)
Lettie Morgan, also known as Mary Varden
Waterfront Lady (1935)
Joan O'Brien
The Fighting Marines (1935)

Cast (Special)

Gene Autry: Melody of the West (1994)

Cast (Short)

Cavalcade of the Academy Awards (1940)
Herself
Angel of Mercy (1939)
"Andy Hardy's Dilemma" A Lesson in Mathematics - and Other Things (1938)
Carnival in Paris (1937)

Misc. Crew (Short)

Flag of Mercy (1942)
Archival Footage

Life Events

1922

Made stage acting debut at age 5

1934

Signed by Mascot/Republic

1935

First features, "The Fighting Marines," "Waterfront Lady," and two Gene Autry Westerns, "Melody Trail" and "The Singing Vagabond"

1936

First films with John Wayne, "The Oregon Trail" and "The Lonely Trail"

1937

Signed by MGM

1937

Made first appearance as ever-faithful girlfriend Polly Benedict opposite Mickey Rooney's Andy Hardy in "You're Only Young Once"

1938

First film with Lana Turner, "Dramatic School"

1939

Cast as Scarlett O'Hara's sister Careen in "Gone With the Wind"

1940

First films with Frank Morgan, "The Ghost Comes Home" and "Keeping Company"

1940

Played Lydia Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice"

1941

First teaming with Red Selton, "Whistling in the Dark"; went on to film the sequels "Whistling in Dixie" (1942) and "Whistling in Brooklyn" (1943)

1942

Made final appearance as Polly Benedict in "Andy Hardy's Double Life"

1947

Cast opposite Danny Kaye in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

1950

Last film for 22 years, "Operation Haylift"

1950

Early TV appearance, "The Doll in the Pink Silk Dress" episode of "Nash Airflyte Theatre"

1959

Played various characters on the mystery drama series "Perry Mason" (CBS)

1969

Guest starred on ABC's "Love, American Style"; returned for another guest appearance in 1973

1972

First feature in over two decades, "They Only Kill Their Masters"

1973

Landed recurring role as Emily's (Suzanne Pleshette) mother on "The Bob Newhart Show" (CBS)

1976

Made final screen acting appearance in "Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood"

1989

Celebrated the 50th anniversary of "Gone With the Wind" with surviving cast members in Atlanta, GA

Photo Collections

Whistling in the Dark - Lobby Cards
Whistling in the Dark - Lobby Cards
Pride and Prejudice - Scene Stills
Here are several scene stills from MGM's Pride and Prejudice (1940), starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier.
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary - Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity stills from MGM's Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941), starring Mickey Rooney. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Andy Hardy Meets Debutante Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity stills from MGM's Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940), starring Mickey Rooney. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Love Finds Andy Hardy - Publicity Stills
Here are some publicity stills from Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
A Christmas Carol (1938) - Scene Stills
Here are several scene stills from MGM's A Christmas Carol (1938), starring Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Videos

Movie Clip

Of Human Hearts (1938) - I'm Going To Bleed You Ames (Guy Kibbee) is persuaded by Dr. Shingle (Charles Coburn) and congregation to give a raise to Rev. Wilkins (Walter Huston), whose son Jason (James Stewart) pursues sweetheart Annie (Ann Rutherford) afterward, in Of Human Hearts, 1938.
Judge Hardy And Son (1939) - There'd Be Fewer Divorces Dining at the Hardy household, the judge (Lewis Stone) presiding, with Andy (Mickey Rooney), sister Marian (Cecilia Parker) and mother (Fay Holden), with her visiting sister Aunt Milly (Sara Haden), preparing to travel to visit her parents, in MGM’s Judge Hardy And Son, 1939.
Judge Hardy And Son (1939) - You Look Just Like Somebody's Husband Andy (Mickey Rooney) is broke and keeps having to fix blowouts on his car, and means to earn some cash by helping his father find a missing members of a local family, none of which matters to girlfriend Polly (Ann Rutherford) who has her own agenda, in Judge Hardy And Son, 1939.
Two O'Clock Courage (1945) - Improve Your Mind Upon hearing news of a murder, savvy cabbie Patty (Ann Rutherford) and her amnesiac fare (Tom Conway) decide to skip the police station, then visit a tailor and wife (Chester Clute, Almira Sessions), in the RKO programmer Two O'Clock Courage, 1945, directed by Anthony Mann.
Two O'Clock Courage (1945) - Just A Close Friend Now dressed-up, cabbie Patty (Ann Rutherford) and amnesiac friend (Tom Conway) at last make progress, as they discover a restaurant where he's called "Step," and where Helen (Jane, billed as "Bettejane" Greer) pounces, in Two O'Clock Courage, 1945, directed by Anthony Mann.
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939) - In National Emergency Early on, Andy (Mickey Rooney), rightly regarding himself as an athlete, is unhappy when he finds his usual girlfriend Polly (Ann Rutherford) has taken up with a hunky visiting Navy Olympian (Robert Kent), in MGM's Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever, 1939.
Christmas Carol, A (1938) - Old Fezziwig Spirit of Christmas Past (flaxen Ann Rutherford) conducts Scrooge (Reginald Owen) to see his young self (Ronald Sinclair) and Jack (Harold Henson) with Fezziwig (Forester Harvey) in A Christmas Carol, 1938.
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939) - Star Crossed Lovers In class exchanging notes with annoyed Polly (Ann Rutherford), Andy (Mickey Rooney) gets his head turned by the new drama teacher (Helen Gilbert), Beezy and Tommy (George Breakston, Charles Peck) not getting it, in Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever, 1939.
Pride And Prejudice (1940) - Beauty And Charm Jane Austen comic scene from MGM, the Bennets (Edmund Gwenn, Mary Boland) and daughters (Greer Garson as Elizabeth, Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane, with Ann Rutherford, Heather Angel and Marsha Hunt) receive the supercilious Mr. Collins (Melville Cooper), in Pride And Prejudice, 1940.
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) - Social Outcast Andy (Mickey Rooney) scheming with Dugan (Raymond Hatton) to buy his first car, then thwarted by girlfriend Polly (Ann Rutherford) who, it turns out, won't be around for the Christmas dance, early in Love Finds Andy Hardy, 1938, featuring Judy Garland and Lana Turner.
Whistling in the Dark (1941) - Opening Credits Opening title sequence for the MGM programmer Whistling in the Dark, 1941, the first in the series starring Red Skelton, co-starring Ann Rutherford and Conrad Veidt.
Whistling In Dixie - Grape O Mix Crime Hour After an opening murder in Georgia, we meet Marty "The Fox" Benton on his radio show, with girlfriend and co-star Carol (Ann Rutherford), the commissioner (Joseph Crehan), doctor (Pierre Watkin) and producer (Emmett Vogan), in the second film in MGM's series, Whistling In Dixie, 1942.

Trailer

Love Finds Andy Hardy - (Original Trailer) A small-town boy tries to juggle two girlfriends at once in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.
Hardys Ride High, The - (Original Trailer) In the sixth Hardy Family movie, The Hardys Ride High (1939) after they inherit a fortune but Andy has trouble adjusting to society life.
Ghost Comes Home, The - (Original Trailer) Frank Morgan discovers it's a wonderful death when he returns to find his family is enjoying his life insurance.
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary - (Original Trailer) For number 11 in the series, Andy feels he needs social assistance in Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941).
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever - (Original Trailer) For the seventh movie in the series, Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939) especially when he falls hard for his drama teacher.
Gone With the Wind (1939) -- (1961 Re-Issue Trailer) Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) fights to save her beloved plantation and find love during the Civil War in Gone With the Wind (1939).
They Only Kill Their Masters - (Original Trailer) A small-town police chief (James Garner) uncovers a mystery while investigating a dog accused of killing its owner in They Only Kill Their Masters (1972).
Keeping Company - (Original Trailer) The engagement of a young man (John Shelton) is jeopardized by the return of an old girlfriend (Virginia Grey).
Whistling in the Dark (1941) - (Original Trailer) Red Skelton, in his first starring role, is a radio detective forced to plan the perfect murder in Whistling in the Dark (1941).
Two O'Clock Courage - (Original Trailer) An amnesiac (Tom Conway) discovers he's wanted for murder in director Anthony Mann's film noir Two O'Clock Courage (1945).
Out West with the Hardys - (Original Trailer) In the fifth Hardy Family movie, Judge Hardy has to help a friend negotiate water rights, so it's Out West With The Hardys (1938).
Andy Hardy's Double Life - (Original Trailer) A new college student lets romance get in the way of his studies in Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942) starring Mickey Rooney and Esther Williams in her first film role.

Family

John Guilberty
Father
Opera singer.
Lucille Mansfield
Mother
Actor.
Judith Arlen
Sister
Actor. Born in 1914; died in 1968.
Gloria May
Daughter
Robert Dozier
Step-Son
Deborah Dozier Potter
Step-Daughter
Mother, Joan Fontaine.

Companions

David May
Husband
Actor.
William Dozier
Husband
Producer. Married from 1953 until his death in 1981.

Bibliography