Monday 19 March 2018

Ann Rutherford

Prolific actress best known for her role in 'Gone With the Wind', who turned down part in 'Titanic'

Ann Rutherford,who died last Monday aged 94, appeared in nearly 60 films in the 1930s and 1940s, but will probably be best remembered for her minor role in the American Civil War epic Gone With the Wind (1939).

One of the great melodramas of cinema, Gone With the Wind won eight Oscars and has become one of the most popular films of all time.

Ann Rutherford's contribution was to play Scarlett O'Hara's youngest sister, Carreen; in Margaret Mitchell's original novel, Carreen's life is blighted when the object of her passion, Brent Tarleton, is killed at the Battle of Gettysburg; eventually she joins a convent.

When the film was in pre-production, its producer, David O Selznick approached MGM, to which Ann Rutherford was under contract, asking them to allow her to appear as Carreen.

Louis B Mayer of MGM called it "a nothing part", Ann Rutherford told The Los Angeles Times in an interview in 2010, and was against the idea; she burst into tears of disappointment, and he backed down.

Therese Ann Rutherford was born in Vancouver on November 2, 1917, the daughter of a tenor, John Rutherford, who had sung with the Metropolitan Opera in New York; her mother was Lucille Mansfield, a silent-film actress.

Ann's early years were spent in San Francisco, but when she was nine the family moved to Los Angeles, where she attended Virgil Junior High School and had a part in a drama on a local radio station.

Having made her film debut in Waterfront Lady (1935), she graduated to Westerns, appearing alongside stars such as John Wayne and Gene Autry.

Then, in 1937, she began a long association with the Andy Hardy film series, taking the role of Polly Benedict, Andy Hardy's (Mickey Rooney's) girlfriend in You're Only Young Once. She went on to play Polly on 12 occasions, the last time in 1942, in Andy Hardy's Double Life.

Meanwhile, she appeared in A Christmas Carol (1938), Pride and Prejudice (1940), and starred in a series of mystery/comedies with Red Skelton: Whistling in the Dark (1941), Whistling in Dixie (1942), and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943).

In the early 1940s Ann Rutherford left MGM and starred in films such as Orchestra Wives (1942), Two O'Clock Courage (1945) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), in which she played Gertrude Griswold. She was alongside Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Don Juan (1948) and was the female lead in Operation Haylift (1950), opposite Bill Williams.

She retired from films in 1950, turning her hand to television, but re-emerged in 1972 to make They Only Kill Their Masters, followed by Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976). In the 1970s she appeared on The Bob Newhart Show.

Ann Rutherford claimed to have been invited to read for the part of Rose Calvert in Titanic (1997), but declined the offer.

"They told me I would have to go for location shooting in Mexico and Poland," she told an interviewer. "I said 'Mexico? Are you crazy?' I've been to location shoots in Mexico before, and everyone ends up getting sick. And me, playing someone who's 101-years-old? I'm not there yet!"

The part went to Gloria Stuart, who was nominated for an Oscar aged 87.

In her latter years, Ann Rutherford became a regular at events and festivals celebrating Gone With the Wind.

She was twice married. With her first husband, David May, whom she married in 1942 (dissolved 1953), she had a daughter.

She married secondly, in 1953, the producer William Dozier, former husband of Joan Fontaine (younger sister of Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind); Dozier died in 1991.

Sunday Independent

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