Ann Harding

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Ann Harding
Ann Harding 1930.jpg
Ann Harding, 1930
Born Dorothy Walton Gatley
(1902-08-07)August 7, 1902
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Died September 1, 1981(1981-09-01) (aged 79)
Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1921–1965
Spouse(s) Harry Bannister (1926–1932) 1 child
Werner Janssen (1937–1962) 1 child
Children Jane Bannister (1928-2005)
Grace Kaye Janssen

Ann Harding (August 7, 1902 – September 1, 1981) was an American theatre, motion picture, radio, and television actress.

Early years[edit]

Born Dorothy Walton Gatley at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, to George G. Gatley and Elizabeth "Bessie" Crabb. The daughter of a career army officer, she traveled often during her early life. Her father was born in Maine and served in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. He died in San Francisco, California in 1931. She grew up in East Orange, New Jersey and graduated from East Orange High School.[1] Harding attended Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA, on the Pennsylvania Main Line outside Philadelphia.

Career[edit]

Following school, she found employment as a script reader. She began acting and made her Broadway debut in 1921. She soon became a leading lady, who kept in shape by using the services of Sylvia of Hollywood.[2] She was a prominent actress in Pittsburgh theatre for a time, performing with the Sharp Company and later starting the Nixon Players with Harry Bannister.[3] In 1929, she made her film debut in Paris Bound, opposite Fredric March. In 1931, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Holiday.

First under contract to Pathé, which was subsequently absorbed by RKO studio, Harding (who was promoted as the studio's 'answer' to MGM's superstar Norma Shearer), co-starred with Ronald Colman, Laurence Olivier, Myrna Loy, Herbert Marshall, Leslie Howard, Richard Dix, and Gary Cooper, often on loan out to other studios, such as MGM and Paramount. At RKO, Harding, along with Helen Twelvetrees and Constance Bennett, comprised a trio who specialized in the "women's pictures" genre.

Leslie Howard and Ann Harding in The Animal Kingdom, 1932

Her performances were often heralded by the critics, who cited her diction and stage experience as assets to the then-new medium of "talking pictures". Harding's second film was Her Private Affair, in which she portrayed a wife of questionable morality. The film was an enormous commercial success. During this period, she was generally considered to be one of cinema's most beautiful women, with her long waist-length blonde hair as one of her most noted physical attributes. Her films during her peak include The Animal Kingdom, Peter Ibbetson, When Ladies Meet, The Flame Within, and Biography of a Bachelor Girl. Harding, however, eventually became stereotyped as the innocent, self-sacrificing young woman. Following lukewarm responses by both her critics and the public to several of her later 1930s films, she eventually quit making movies when she married the conductor Werner Janssen in 1937. However, she returned in 1942 to make Eyes in the Night and to take secondary roles in other movies. In 1956, she again starred with Fredric March, this time in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

The 1960s marked her return to Broadway after an absence of decades — she had last appeared there in 1927. In 1962, she starred in General Seeger, directed by and co-starring George C. Scott, and in 1964 she appeared in Abraham Cochrane. Both productions had brief runs, with the former play lasting a mere three performances (including previews). Harding made her last acting appearance in 1965 in an episode of Ben Casey before retiring from acting.

Personal life[edit]

Harding married actor Harry Bannister in 1926. They had one child together before divorcing in 1932. Their daughter Jane was born in 1928 and died in December 2005. In 1937, Harding married Werner Janssen, the famous conductor. Janssen and Harding enjoyed life in a number of cities, before settling down in California to work more closely with Hollywood. The couple divorced in 1962. Her death certificate states that she had an adoptive daughter Grace Kaye Harding.

Death[edit]

On September 1, 1981, Harding died at the age of 79 in Sherman Oaks, California. After cremation, her urn was placed in the Court of Remembrance wall at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.

For her contributions to the motion picture and television industries, Harding has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6201 (motion picture) and 6840 Hollywood Boulevard (television).

Broadway stage credits[edit]

Date Production Role
October 3, 1921 – Oct 1921 Like a King Phyllis Weston
October 1, 1923 – May 1924 Tarnish Letitia Tevis
September 8, 1924 – September 1924 Thoroughbreds Sue
October 7, 1925 – December 1925 Stolen Fruit Marie Millais
March 23, 1926 – April 1926 Schweiger Anna Schweiger
September 28, 1926 – March 1927 The Woman Disputed Marie-Ange
September 19, 1927 – October 1927 The Trial of Mary Dugan Mary Dugan
February 28, 1962 – March 1, 1962 General Seeger Rena Seeger
February 17, 1964 – February 17, 1964 Abraham Cochrane Myra Holliday

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1929 Paris Bound Mary Hutton
Her Private Affair Vera Kessler Co-starred Harry Bannister
Condemned Madame Vidal USA reissue title: Condemned to Devil's Island, Co-starred Ronald Colman
1930 Holiday Linda Seton Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
The Girl of the Golden West Minnie
1931 East Lynne Lady Isabella The film was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar
Devotion Shirley Mortimer
1932 Prestige Therese Du Flos Verlaine
Westward Passage Olivia Van Tyne Allen Ottendorf Co-starred Laurence Olivier
The Conquerors Caroline Ogden Standish USA reissue title: Pioneer Builders
The Animal Kingdom Daisy Sage UK Title: The Woman in His House, Co-starred Leslie Howard
1933 When Ladies Meet Claire Woodruff Co-starred Myrna Loy
Double Harness Joan Colby Co-starred William Powell
The Right to Romance Dr. Margaret "Peggy" Simmons Co-starred Robert Young
1934 The Life of Vergie Winters Vergie Winters aka Virginia Wood
The Fountain Julie von Marwitz
The Hollywood Gad About Herself Short subject
1935 Biography of a Bachelor Girl Marion Forsythe
Enchanted April Mrs. Lotty Wilkins
The Flame Within Doctor Mary White
Peter Ibbetson Mary, Duchess of Towers Co-starred Gary Cooper
1936 The Lady Consents Anne Talbot
The Witness Chair Paula Young
1937 Love from a Stranger Carol Howard USA title: A Night of Terror, Co-starred Basil Rathbone
1942 Eyes in the Night Norma Lawry Starred Edward Arnold
1943 Mission to Moscow Mrs. Marjorie Davies
The North Star Sophia Pavlova USA recut version: Armored Attack
1944 Nine Girls Gracie Thornton
Janie Lucille Conway
1945 Those Endearing Young Charms Mrs. Brandt (Captain)
1946 Janie Gets Married Lucille Conway
1947 It Happened on 5th Avenue Mary O'Connor
Christmas Eve Aunt Matilda Reed USA reissue title: Sinner's Holiday
1950 The Magnificent Yankee Fanny Bowditch Holmes Co-starred Louis Calhern
Two Weeks with Love Katherine Robinson
1951 The Unknown Man Stella Mason USA title: The Bradley Mason Story
1956 The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Helen Hopkins Starred Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones
I've Lived Before Mrs. Jane Stone
Strange Intruder Mary Carmichael

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1955 Crossroads Hulda Lund 1 episode
Studio 57 Martha Halstead 1 episode
1956 Front Row Center Grammie 1 episode
1959 The DuPont Show with June Allyson Naomi 1 episode, "Ruth and Naomi"
1963 The Defenders Helen Bernard 1 episode
Burke's Law Annabelle Rogers 1 episode
1964 Dr. Kildare Mae Priest 1 episode
1965 Ben Casey Edith Sommers 1 episode

References[edit]

  1. ^ Percy, Eileen. "Durante Will Be Made an M. G. M. Star; 'Schnozzle; Has Ste Record for Saving Pictures.", The Milwaukee Sentinel, October 26, 1932. "Ann Harding began hers 15 years ago in a dramatic class at East Orange High school."
  2. ^ Hollywood Undressed: Observations of Sylvia As Noted by Her Secretary (1931) Brentano’s.
  3. ^ Conner, Lynne (2007). Pittsburgh In Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0-8229-4330-3. Retrieved 2011-06-06.

External links[edit]