Ann Sothern’s film career started as an extra in 1927. Originally a redhead, she began to bleach her hair blonde for comedy roles. After working at MGM and on Broadway, Ann was signed by Columbia Pictures for Let’s Fall in Love (1933). The next year she would work with Eddie Cantor in his hit Kid Millions (1934). For the next two years, Ann would appear in a number of “B” pictures until she was dropped by Columbia in 1936. She then went to RKO, where the quality of her films did not improve. She appeared in a series of “B’ pictures movies with Gene Raymond, but her career was going nowhere. In 1938 she left RKO and played the tart in Trade Winds (1938), which got her a contract at MGM. She was given the lead in a “B” comedy about a brassy, energetic showgirl not salesgirl–originally intended for Jean Harlow–that wound up becoming a huge hit and spawned a series of sequels that ran until 1947: Maisie (1939). Ann also appeared in such well received features as Brother Orchid (1940), Cry ‘Havoc’ (1943) and A Letter to Three Wives (1949). After 1950 the roles dried up and Ann turned to television and another hit series, playing the meddlesome Susie in the 1953 series Private Secretary (1953). The series was canceled in 1957 and Ann came back in The Ann Sothern Show (1958), which ran from 1958 to 1961. In 1965, she would be the voice of the 1928 Porter in the camp classic My Mother the Car (1965). While the 1970s and 1980s were relatively quiet for Ann, she would be nominated for an Academy Award for her role as the neighbor of Lillian Gish and Bette Davis in The Whales of August (1987).
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