Ann Rutherford

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Ann Rutherford
Rutherford in a 1940s publicity photo
Therese Ann Rutherford

(1917-11-02)November 2, 1917
DiedJune 11, 2012(2012-06-11) (aged 94)
  • Canadian
  • American
Years active1935–1978
Notable workGone with the Wind,
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
David May
(m. 1942; div. 1953)
(m. 1953; died 1991)
PartnerAl Morley (1992–2012)
RelativesJudith Arlen (sister)

Therese Ann Rutherford (November 2, 1917 – June 11, 2012) was a Canadian-born American actress in film, radio, and television. She had a long career starring and co-starring in films, playing Polly Benedict during the 1930s and 1940s in the Andy Hardy series, and appearing as one of Scarlett O'Hara's sisters, Careen O'Hara in the film Gone with the Wind (1939).

Early life[edit]

Rutherford was born on November 2, 1917,[1] in Vancouver, British Columbia to John Rutherford and Lucille (née Mansfield; 1890–1981) Rutherford. Rutherford's mother was a silent film actress, and her father was a former operatic tenor.[2] While Rutherford was still a baby, the family moved to San Francisco. Soon afterwards, her parents separated and Lucille Mansfield moved to Los Angeles, with Ann and her sister Laurette, who later became known as Judith Arlen.[3][4]

While roller skating home from middle school in Hollywood, Rutherford would stop at some of the radio studios to listen to voice actors perform. After being criticized one day by her English teacher, Rutherford decided to show her up. The girl falsified an acting history and applied for work at radio station KFAC. A month later, Rutherford had a part in a radio serial drama.[3]


Film career[edit]

In 1935, Rutherford began her Hollywood film career in the starring role of Joan O'Brien in the dramatic film Waterfront Lady for Mascot Pictures, later to be Republic Pictures. Rutherford soon established herself as a popular leading lady of Western films at Republic, costarring with actors Gene Autry and John Wayne.

In 1937, Rutherford left Republic and signed a film contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. At MGM, Rutherford appeared as the Spirit of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol (1938) and Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1940) among other roles.

In 1938, MGM loaned Rutherford to Selznick International Pictures to appear as Careen O'Hara, a sister of Scarlett O'Hara, in the film Gone with the Wind (1939). MGM boss Louis Mayer originally refused the loan because he considered the role too minor, but Rutherford passionately appealed to him to change his mind.[3] In December 1939, while promoting the new movie, Rutherford visited six Confederate Army veterans at the Confederate Soldiers Home near Atlanta. One of the veterans gave Rutherford a rose corsage tied with Confederate colors.[5]

Rutherford in Dramatic School (1938)

From 1937 until 1942, Rutherford portrayed Polly Benedict in the MGM Andy Hardy youth comedy film series with actor Mickey Rooney. Her first film in this series was You're Only Young Once (1937) and the last was Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942). Rutherford's performances as Andy Hardy's sweet and patient girlfriend established her screen popularity.[4]

Rutherford also played Carol Lambert, comedian Red Skelton's screen girlfriend, for MGM in a series of mystery/comedies: Whistling in the Dark (1941), Whistling in Dixie (1942), and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943).

In the early 1940s, Rutherford left MGM to work without contract with different studios. During this period, she starred in films such as Orchestra Wives (1942) with 20th Century Fox, Two O'Clock Courage (1945) with RKO Radio Pictures, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), also with RKO. In 1950, Rutherford retired from films. Despite Mickey Rooney's pleas, she passed on returning as Polly Benedict in the final Andy Hardy film, Andy Hardy Comes Home (1958), stating that she didn't believe most people married their first sweethearts and that Andy Hardy becoming a judge was implausible.[6]

Later career[edit]

Rutherford was the heroine of a novel, Ann Rutherford and the Key to Nightmare Hall (1942 by Katherine Heisenfelt), where "the heroine has the same name and appearance as the famous actress but has no connection ... it is as though the famous actress has stepped into an alternate reality in which she is an ordinary person." The story was probably written for a young teenage audience and is reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. It is part of a series known as "Whitman Authorized Editions", 16 books published between 1941 and 1947 that featured a film actress as heroine.[7]

Among her television appearances, Rutherford co-starred in "Suppressed Desires" on The Nash Airflyte Theater (November 23, 1950).[8] She guest starred in four episodes of Perry Mason. Her first appearance was in the 1959 episode "The Case of the Howling Dog," when she played defendant Evelyn Forbes.

Rutherford at the TCM Classic Film Festival in April 2010

In 1972, Rutherford returned to MGM to make the film They Only Kill Their Masters. Ironically (given the film's grisly name), the film was shot on the old Andy Hardy set. On radio, Ann Rutherford replaced Penny Singleton as the title character on the Blondie show. In the 1970s, Rutherford made two guest appearances on television as Aggie Harrison, the mother of Suzanne Pleshette's character Emily Hartley, on The Bob Newhart Show.

During the 1990s, Rutherford was offered the role of Rose Calvert in the film Titanic (1997), but turned it down; the role went to Gloria Stuart. On November 2, 2002, Rutherford celebrated her 85th birthday, surrounded by her fans and friends at a luncheon in Beverly Hills, California. Neither Evelyn Keyes (1916–2008), then suffering from Alzheimer's disease, nor Olivia de Havilland, two of her surviving co-stars from Gone with the Wind, was able to attend. In October 2004, Rutherford made a guest appearance at the Margaret Mitchell birthday celebration in Jonesboro, Georgia to honor the film Gone With the Wind. Rutherford signed autographs and reminisced with fans about old times.[citation needed]

In June 2007, she was the guest star at the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum in Marietta, Georgia. The occasion was "The Heart and History of Hollywood" event with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) host Robert Osborne serving as emcee. Rutherford was scheduled to return to Marietta on July 4, 2008, to be reunited with four of the surviving costars from Gone with the Wind; Cammie King, Fred Crane, Mickey Kuhn, and Patrick Curtis. Fred Crane died on August 21, 2008, and Cammie King died on September 1, 2010.[citation needed] In 2012, she was interviewed, along with Anne Jeffreys, by Huell Howser on an episode of California's Gold.

Personal life and death[edit]

Rutherford was married twice. On December 31, 1942, she married David May II, the grandson of the founder of the May Company department stores; the couple had a daughter, Gloria May, in 1943. On June 6, 1953, Rutherford and May were divorced in a court in Juárez, Mexico.[9] On October 7, 1953, in New York City, Rutherford married actor/producer William Dozier, the creator of the Batman (1966–1968) TV series.[10] Dozier died in Santa Monica, California of a stroke on April 23, 1991.[11] Her companion of twenty years was Al Morley.[4]

Rutherford died on June 11, 2012, aged 94 at her home in Beverly Hills, California, following declining health due to heart problems.[3] She was cremated, and her ashes given to her daughter.[12]



Year Title Role Notes
1934 Student Tour Student Uncredited
1935 Waterfront Lady Joan O'Brien
Melody Trail Millicent Thomas
The Fighting Marines Frances Schiller 12-chapter serial
The Singing Vagabond Lettie Morgan
1936 The Oregon Trail Anne Ridgeley
The Lawless Nineties Janet Carter
Doughnuts and Society Joan Dugan
Comin' Round the Mountain Dolores Moreno
The Harvester Ruth Jameson
The Lonely Trail Virginia Terry
Down to the Sea Helen Pappas
1937 Espionage Train Passenger Uncredited
The Devil Is Driving Kitty Wooster
Public Cowboy No. 1 Helen Morgan
Live, Love and Learn
The Bride Wore Red Third Peasant Girl Uncredited
You're Only Young Once Polly Benedict
1938 Of Human Hearts Annie Hawks
Judge Hardy's Children Polly Benedict
Love Finds Andy Hardy Polly Benedict
Out West with the Hardys Polly Benedict
Dramatic School Yvonne
A Christmas Carol Spirit of Christmas Past
1939 Four Girls in White Patricia Page
The Hardys Ride High Polly Benedict
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever Polly Benedict
These Glamour Girls Mary Rose Wilston
Dancing Co-Ed Eve
Gone with the Wind Carreen O'Hara
Judge Hardy and Son Polly Benedict
1940 The Ghost Comes Home Billie Adams
Andy Hardy Meets Debutante Polly Benedict
Pride and Prejudice Lydia Bennet
Wyoming Lucy Kincaid
Keeping Company Mary Thomas
1941 Andy Hardy's Private Secretary Polly Benedict
Washington Melodrama Laurie Claymore
Whistling in the Dark Carol Lambert
Life Begins for Andy Hardy Polly Benedict
Badlands of Dakota Anne Grayson
1942 The Courtship of Andy Hardy Polly Benedict
This Time for Keeps Katherine 'Kit' White
Orchestra Wives Connie Ward
Andy Hardy's Double Life Polly Benedict
Whistling in Dixie Carol Lambert
1943 Happy Land Lenore Prentiss
Whistling in Brooklyn Carol Lambert
1944 Bermuda Mystery Constance Martin
1945 Two O'Clock Courage Patty Mitchell
Bedside Manner Lola Cross
1946 The Madonna's Secret Linda
Murder in the Music Hall Gracie
Inside Job Claire Gray Norton
1947 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Gertrude Griswold
1948 Adventures of Don Juan Donna Elena
1950 Operation Haylift Clara Masters
1972 They Only Kill Their Masters Gloria
1976 Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood Grayson's Studio Secretary (final film Role)

Short subjects[edit]

Year Title Role
1936 Annie Laurie Annie Laurie
1937 Carnival in Paris Lisette
1938 Andy Hardy's Dilemma
1939 Angel of Mercy Sister of Dead Soldier (uncredited)
1940 Screen Snapshots: Sports in Hollywood Herself, Polo Fan
1947 Unusual Occupations: Film Tot Holiday


  1. ^ "Ann Rutherford". The Daily Telegraph. London. June 12, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  2. ^ Bergan, Ronald (June 12, 2012). "Ann Rutherford obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Nelson, Valerie; Noland, Claire (June 11, 2012). "Ann Rutherford, actress in 'Gone With the Wind,' dies at 94". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Berkvist, Robert (June 12, 2012). "Ann Rutherford, Studio Film Sweetheart, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  5. ^ "Careen Visits Veterans" (PDF). The New York Times. December 14, 1939. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  6. ^ "Andy Hardy Comes Home". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  7. ^ "Whitman Authorized Editions for Girls". Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  8. ^ "Television . . . . . . Highlights of the Week". Detroit Free Press. November 19, 1950. p. 22. Retrieved April 13, 2021 – via
  9. ^ "Ann Rutherford Divorced" (PDF). The New York Times. June 7, 1953. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  10. ^ "Ann Rutherford Married Here". The New York Times. October 7, 1953.
  11. ^ "William Dozier; TV Producer, 83". The New York Times. Associated Press. April 28, 1991. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  12. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3d ed.). McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7 – via Google Books.

Further reading[edit]

  • Alistair, Rupert (2018). "Ann Rutherford". The Name Below the Title : 65 Classic Movie Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age (softcover) (First ed.). Great Britain: Independently published. pp. 224–228. ISBN 978-1-7200-3837-5.

External links[edit]