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Ann Blyth

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Ann Blyth
Blyth in 1952
Anne Marie Blythe

(1928-08-16) August 16, 1928 (age 95)
Occupation(s)Actress, singer
Years active1933–1985
Known forMildred Pierce
James McNulty
(m. 1953; died 2007)
FamilyDennis Day (brother-in-law)

Ann Marie Blyth (born August 16, 1928) is an American retired actress and singer. For her performance as Veda in the 1945 Michael Curtiz film Mildred Pierce, Blyth was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, and became the earliest living acting Academy Award nominee upon the death of Angela Lansbury in 2022.

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Anne Marie Blythe (she later dropped the "e" from her first name and surname) was born in Mount Kisco, New York, on August 16, 1928.[1] After her father left the family, Anne, her elder sister (Dorothy) and their mother moved to a walk-up apartment on East 31st Street in New York City, where her mother took in ironing.[2]

Watch on the Rhine[edit]

Blyth performed on children's radio shows in New York for six years, making her first appearance when she was five.[3][4] When she was nine, she joined the New York Children's Opera Company.[5]

Blyth's first acting role was on Broadway in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine (from 1941 until 1942). She played the part of Paul Lukas's daughter, Babette. The play ran for 378 performances,[6] and won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. After the New York run, the play went on tour, and while performing at the Biltmore Theatre Los Angeles, Blyth was offered a contract with Universal Studios.[5]


Blyth in 1948

Blyth began her acting career initially as "Anne Blyth", but changed the spelling of her first name to "Ann" at the beginning of her film career. She made her film debut in 1944, teamed with Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan in the teenager musical Chip Off the Old Block (1944).[3] She followed it with two similar films: The Merry Monahans (1944), with O'Connor and Ryan again, and Babes on Swing Street (1944) with Ryan. She had a supporting role in the bigger-budgeted Bowery to Broadway (1944), a showcase of Universal musical talent.[7]

On loan to Warner Brothers, Blyth was cast "against type" as Veda Pierce, the scheming, ungrateful daughter of Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945). Her dramatic portrayal won her outstanding reviews, and she received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[1] Blyth was only 16 when she made the Michael Curtiz film.[3] (Crawford won the Best Actress award for that film).

After Mildred Pierce, Blyth sustained a broken back while tobogganing in Snow Valley in the Southern California mountains[8] and was not able to fully capitalize on the film's success.

She recovered and made two films for Mark Hellinger's unit at Universal: Swell Guy (1946), with Sonny Tufts, and Jules Dassin's Brute Force (1947) with Burt Lancaster.[9] Universal lent her to MGM to play the female lead in Killer McCoy (1947), a boxing film with Mickey Rooney that was a box-office hit.[10]

Back at Universal, Blyth did a film noir with Charles Boyer and Jessica Tandy, A Woman's Vengeance (1948), affecting a British accent. She was then cast in the part of Regina Hubbard in Lillian Hellman's Another Part of the Forest (1948), an adaptation of the 1946 play wherein Regina had been played by Patricia Neal. The play was a prequel to The Little Foxes. Blyth followed it with Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948) with William Powell. She was top-billed in Red Canyon (1949), a Western with Howard Duff.

Universal lent Blyth to Paramount Pictures to play the female lead in Top o' the Morning (1949), as Barry Fitzgerald's daughter, who is romanced by Bing Crosby. Back at Universal, she was teamed with Robert Montgomery in Once More, My Darling (1949), meaning she had to drop out of Desert Legion.[11] She did a comedy with Robert Cummings, Free for All (1949). In April 1949, Universal suspended her for refusing a lead role in the baby adoption ring crime noir Abandoned (1949). Gale Storm played it.[12]

Universal lent her to Samuel Goldwyn Productions to star opposite Farley Granger in Our Very Own (1950). Universal gave her top billing in a romantic comedy, Katie Did It (1951). Blyth was borrowed by MGM for The Great Caruso (1951) opposite Mario Lanza, which was a massive box-office hit. Back at Universal she made Thunder on the Hill (1951) with Claudette Colbert and had the female lead in The Golden Horde (1951) with David Farrar. 20th Century Fox borrowed her to star opposite Tyrone Power in I'll Never Forget You (1952), a last-minute replacement for Constance Smith.[13] She appeared on TV in Family Theater in an episode called "The World's Greatest Mother" alongside Ethel Barrymore.

Universal teamed Blyth with Gregory Peck in The World in His Arms (1952). She was top-billed in the comedy Sally and Saint Anne (1952) and was borrowed by RKO for One Minute to Zero (1952), a Korean War drama with Robert Mitchum, wherein she replaced Claudette Colbert, who came down with pneumonia.[citation needed]


Blyth in 1952

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had been interested in Blyth since she worked at the studio on The Great Caruso. In December 1952, she left Universal and signed a long-term contract with MGM.[14] She was the leading lady in All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953) with Stewart Granger and Robert Taylor, stepping in for Elizabeth Taylor, who had to drop out due to pregnancy.[15]

On television, Blyth appeared in The Lux Video Theatre version of A Place in the Sun with John Derek and Marilyn Erskine. Back at MGM, Blyth had the lead in the remake of Rose Marie (1954) with Howard Keel, which earned over $5 million, but lost money due to high costs.[10] Plans to remake other MacDonald-Eddy films (such as The Girl of the Golden West) were discussed,[16] but did not work out.

Blyth was meant to be reteamed with Lanza in The Student Prince (1954), but he was fired from the studio and replaced in the picture by Edmund Purdom;[17] the film did well at the box office. Blyth and Purdom were reunited in a swashbuckler, The King's Thief (1955), with David Niven. She was teamed again with Keel on the musical Kismet (1955); despite strong reviews, the film was a financial flop.[10] She was named as the female lead in The Adventures of Quentin Durward (1955), but Kay Kendall was cast in the film, instead.[18] For her final picture at the studio, MGM put Blyth in Slander (1957) opposite Van Johnson.

Final features[edit]

Sidney Sheldon cast Blyth in The Buster Keaton Story (1957) with O'Connor at Paramount. Warner Bros. then cast her in the title role of The Helen Morgan Story (1957) directed by Michael Curtiz with Paul Newman. Blyth reportedly beat 40 other actresses for the part.[19] Though her voice was more like the original Helen Morgan, her vocals were dubbed by Gogi Grant. That soundtrack was much more successful than the film itself. Blyth made no further films.

In 1957, she sued Benedict Bogeaus for $75,000 for not making the film Conquest.[20]

Theatre and television[edit]

Blyth in August 1954 for Modern Screen Magazine

From the late 1950s into the 1970s, Blyth worked in musical theater and summer stock, starring in the shows The King and I, The Sound of Music, and Show Boat.[21][22] She also appeared sporadically on television, including co-starring opposite James Donald in the 1960 adaptation of A.J. Cronin's novel, The Citadel.

She guest-starred on episodes of The DuPont Show with June Allyson, The Dick Powell Theatre, Saints and Sinners, Wagon Train (several episodes), The Twilight Zone ("Queen of the Nile"),[23] Burke's Law, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Insight, and The Name of the Game. Several of these appearances were for Four Star Television, with whom Blyth signed a multiple-appearance contract.[24] Blyth became a spokesperson for Hostess Cupcakes.

Her last television appearances were in episodes of Switch and Quincy, M.E. in 1983 and Murder, She Wrote in 1985. She then officially retired.

For her contributions to the film industry, Blyth has a motion picture star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6733 Hollywood Boulevard.[25]

Live performance[edit]

Blyth performed live in concert tours for many years with Harper MacKay serving as her accompanist and music director.[26][27][28]

Personal life[edit]

In the December 1952 edition of Motion Picture and Television Magazine, Blyth stated in an interview that she was a Republican who had endorsed Dwight D. Eisenhower for president, the month before during the 1952 presidential election.[29]

In 1953, Blyth married obstetrician James McNulty, brother of singer Dennis Day, who had introduced them. The bridesmaids were actresses Joan Leslie, Jane Withers, and Betty Lynn. The couple received a special commendation from the Pope.[30] After her marriage, Blyth took a hiatus from her career to focus on raising their five children.[31][32] In 1955, an armed man who had written her fan letters was arrested near her house.[33]


In 1973, McNulty and she, both Roman Catholics were accorded the honorific rank of Lady and Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in a ceremony presided over by Cardinal Cooke.[34]

In 2003, Blyth was the recipient of the Living Legacy Award by the Women's International Center.[34]

Later years[edit]

Blyth was widowed when Dr. McNulty died on May 13, 2007, in La Jolla, California, aged 89.[34]


Year Title Role Notes
1944 Chip Off the Old Block Glory Marlow III
The Merry Monahans Sheila DeRoyce
Babes on Swing Street Carol Curtis
Bowery to Broadway Bessie Jo Kirby
1945 Mildred Pierce Veda Pierce Forrester Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1946 Swell Guy Marian Tyler
1947 Brute Force Ruth
Killer McCoy Sheila Carrson
1948 A Woman's Vengeance Doris Mead Alternative title: The Gioconda Smile
Another Part of the Forest Regina Hubbard
Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid Lenore the Mermaid
1949 Red Canyon Lucy Bostel
Top o' the Morning Conn McNaughton
Once More, My Darling Marita Connell
Free for All Ann Abbott
1950 Our Very Own Gail Macaulay
1951 Katie Did It Katherine Standish
The Great Caruso Dorothy Park Benjamin
Thunder on the Hill Valerie Carns Alternative title: Bonaventure
I'll Never Forget You Helen Pettigrew / Martha Forsyth Alternative titles: The House in the Square (USA)
Man of Two Worlds
The Golden Horde Princess Shalimar Alternative title: The Golden Horde of Genghis Khan
1952 The World in His Arms Countess Marina Selanova
Sally and Saint Anne Sally O'Moyne
One Minute to Zero Mrs. Landa Day
1953 All the Brothers Were Valiant Priscilla "Pris" Holt
1954 Rose Marie Rose Marie Lemaitre
The Student Prince Kathie Ruder
1955 The King's Thief Lady Mary
Kismet Marsinah
1957 Slander Connie Martin
The Buster Keaton Story Gloria Brent
The Helen Morgan Story Helen Morgan Alternative titles are Both Ends of the Candle and
Why Was I Born?
Vocals dubbed by Gogi Grant
Year Title Role Notes
1954 Lux Video Theatre Angela Episode: "A Place in the Sun"
1958–1963 The Christophers 2 episodes
1959 The DuPont Show with June Allyson Martha Episode: "Suspected"
1959–1963 Wagon Train Nancy Winters / Eve Newhope / Clementine Jones / Martha Barham / Jenny / Phoebe Tannen 5 episodes
1960 The Citadel Christine Television movie
1962 The Dick Powell Show Lizzie Hogan Episode: "Savage Sunday"
1963 Saints and Sinners Edith Berlitz Episode: "The Year Joan Crawford Won the Oscar"
1964 The Twilight Zone Pamela Morris / Constance Taylor Episode: "Queen of the Nile"
1964–1965 Burke's Law Deidre DeMara
2 episodes
1965 Kraft Suspense Theatre Lady Mei Episode: "Jungle of Fear"
1969 The Name of the Game Kay Martin Episode: "Swingers Only"
1975 Switch Miriam Estabrook Episode: "Mistresses, Murder and Millions"
1979–1983 Quincy, M.E. Velma Whitehead
Dorothy Blake
2 episodes
1985 Murder, She Wrote Francesca Lodge Episode: "Reflections of the Mind", (final appearance)

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1948 Lux Radio Theatre A Woman's Vengeance[35]
1952 Family Theater The Presentation[36]
1952 Lux Radio Theatre Top o' the Morning[37]
1953 Family Theater The Finding in the Temple[38]

Award nominations[edit]

Year Result Category Film Award
1946 Academy Award Best Supporting Actress Mildred Pierce Nominated
1958 Laurel Awards Top Female Musical Performance The Helen Morgan Story Nominated


  1. ^ a b Charles, John. "Ann Blyth". TCM. Turner Classic Movie. Archived from the original on August 14, 2021. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  2. ^ "Anne Blyth on Personal Faith" Archived October 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Guideposts, December 1952.
  3. ^ a b c King, Susan (August 12, 2013). "Ann Blyth gets a TCM salute for her birthday". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "Ann Blyth an Actress Since She Was 5". Chicago Daily Tribune. January 29, 1950. p. G3.
  5. ^ a b WILLIAM BROWNELL (October 12, 1952). "THE BLYTH SPIRIT: Show Business Still Stimulating to Ann Blyth, Youthful But Veteran Trouper". New York Times. p. X5.
  6. ^ "Watch on the Rhine". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  7. ^ Schallert, Edwin (April 22, 1944). "Metro to Split Garson, Pidgeon Combination: 'The Bullfighter,' Latin-American Yarn, Chosen as Subject for Laurel and Hardy". Los Angeles Times. p. 5.
  8. ^ Blyth, Ann, "My Career Took a Toboggan Ride", in Peale, Norman Vincent (ed.) Faith Made Them Champions. Carmel, New York: Guideposts Associates, Inc., 1954, pp. 114–117.
  9. ^ "The Life Story of ANN BLYTH". Picture Show. Vol. 53, no. 1389. London. November 12, 1949. p. 12.
  10. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  11. ^ "ANN BLYTH SHIFTS ROLE AT U-I STUDIO". New York Times. February 4, 1949. p. 31.
  12. ^ THOMAS F. BRADY (May 3, 1949). "GIL LAMB TO HEAD RKO VARIETY FILM: ' Make Mine Laughs' Scheduled the Studio -- U-I Suspends Ann Blyth From Salary". New York Times. p. 31.
  13. ^ "Notes for I'll Never Forget You (1951)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
  14. ^ THOMAS M. PRYORS (December 4, 1952). "ANN BLYTH LEAVING UNIVERSAL DEC. 20: Seen Signing M-G-M Contract -- May Play Lead in New Version of 'Rose Marie'". New York Times. p. 47.
  15. ^ Schallert, Edwin (February 12, 1953). "'Caesar' Pioneer to Do Gauguin; Adventuress Bids for Mala Powers". Los Angeles Times. p. A11.
  16. ^ Hopper, Hedda (June 6, 1954). "Ann Blyth: Success Without an Enemy". Los Angeles Times. p. E1.
  17. ^ Ronald Bergan (January 24, 2009). "Edmund Purdom (obituary)". The Guardian. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  18. ^ Hopper, Hedda (July 25, 1953). "Ann Blyth, Taylor Named as Costars". Los Angeles Times. p. A7.
  19. ^ Hopper, Hedda (June 9, 1957). "40 Tested, but Ann Blyth Won". Los Angeles Times. p. F1.
  20. ^ "Ann Blyth Seeks $75,000 in Suit". Los Angeles Times. January 1, 1957. p. B1.
  21. ^ Amador, Tavo (July 17, 2006). "The Real Veda Pierce: A Serene Ann Blyth". Bay Area Reporter.
  22. ^ "Memories of Melody Top: Remembering Milwaukee's Summer Stock Theatre". DGP. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  23. ^ "Ann Blyth Stars Los Angeles Times". October 22, 1963. p. F13.
  24. ^ "Multiple Contract Signed by Ann Blyth". Los Angeles Times. June 21, 1962. p. C11.
  25. ^ "Hollywood Walk of Fame – Ann Blyth". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  26. ^ "Harper MacKay; Composer, Arranger of Music for Films, TV". Los Angeles Times. June 8, 1995.
  27. ^ Libby Slate (October 14, 1994). "Playing Their Songs : Concert by John Raitt and Ann Blyth will target a crowd that craves 'hummable' music". Los Angeles Times.
  28. ^ Stephen Holden (November 3, 1992). "Pop and Jazz in Review". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, December 1952, page 28, Ideal Publishers
  30. ^ "Ann Blyth Wed as 600 Watch Church Service: ANN BLYTH MARRIED". Los Angeles Times. June 28, 1953. p. 1.
  31. ^ "Daughter Born to Ann Blyth". Los Angeles Times. April 11, 1963. p. 30.
  32. ^ Anderson, Nancy (August 22, 1974). "Ann Blyth has Cake and Eats it". Lodi News-Sentinel.
  33. ^ "Armed Man Seized Near Home of Ann Blyth: Police Report Finding Spring-Blade Knife, Two Shotguns, Rifle and Blackjack in Auto". Los Angeles Times. September 13, 1955. p. 4.
  34. ^ a b c "Ann Blyth Profile". Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  35. ^ "Boyer, Blyth Play Original Roles on 'Lux'". Harrisburg Telegraph. March 20, 1948. p. 22. Retrieved August 8, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
  36. ^ Kirby, Walter (December 28, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 36. Retrieved June 5, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  37. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 23, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  38. ^ Kirby, Walter (January 11, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved June 19, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon

Further reading[edit]

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914–1985. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 22-23.

External links[edit]