Sheridan in 1934
Clara Lou Sheridan
February 21, 1915
Denton, Texas, U.S.
|Died||January 21, 1967 (aged 51)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
Clara Lou Sheridan (February 21, 1915 - January 21, 1967), known professionally as Ann Sheridan, was an American actress and singer. She worked regularly from 1934 until her death, first in film and later in television. Notable roles include San Quentin (1937) with Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart, Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) with James Cagney and Bogart, They Drive by Night (1940) with George Raft and Bogart, The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) with Monty Woolley, Kings Row (1942) with Ronald Reagan, Nora Prentiss (1947), and I Was a Male War Bride (1949) with Cary Grant.
Born in Denton, Texas, on February 21, 1915, Clara Lou Sheridan was the daughter of G.W. Sheridan and Lula Stewart Warren Sheridan. According to Sheridan, her father was a great-great-nephew of Civil War Union general Philip Sheridan. She had a sister, Pauline.
In 1932, she was a student at North Texas State Teachers College when her sister sent a photograph of her to Paramount Pictures. She subsequently entered and won a beauty contest, with part of her prize being a bit part in a Paramount film, The Search for Beauty. She left college to pursue a career in Hollywood.
After making her film debut in 1934, aged 19, in Search for Beauty, she played uncredited bit parts in Paramount films for the next two years, starting at $75 a week (equivalent to $1,400 in 2019).
She can be glimpsed in Bolero (1934), Come On Marines! (1934) (billed as "Clara Lou Sheridan"), Murder at the Vanities (1934), Shoot the Works (1934), Kiss and Make-Up (1934), The Notorious Sophie Lang (1934), College Rhythm (1934) (directed by Norman Taurog who Sheridan admired), Ladies Should Listen (1934), You Belong to Me (1934), Wagon Wheels (1934), The Lemon Drop Kid (1934), Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934), Ready for Love (1934), Limehouse Blues (1934), and One Hour Late (1934).
Sheridan worked with Paramount's drama coach Nina Mouise and performed plays on the lot with fellow contractees, including The Milky Way and The Pursuit of Happiness. When she did The Milky Way, she played a character called Ann and the Paramount front office decided to change her name to "Ann".
Sheridan had a part in Behold My Wife! (1934), which she got at the behest of director Mitchell Leisen, who was a friend. She had two good scenes, one in which her character had to commit suicide. Sheridan attributed Paramount's keeping her for two years to this role.
Sheridan's first lead came in Car 99 (1935) with Fred MacMurray. She was in Rocky Mountain Mystery (1935), a Randolph Scott Western. "No acting, it was just playing the lead, that's all," she later said.
She then appeared in Mississippi (1935) with Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields, The Glass Key (1935) with George Raft, and (having one line) The Crusades (1935) with Loretta Young. Paramount lent her out to Talisman, a small production company, to makeThe Red Blood of Courage (1935) with Kermit Maynard. After this, Paramount declined to take up her option.
Sheridan's career prospects began to improve. Her early films for Warner Bros. included Sing Me a Love Song (1936); Black Legion (1937) with Humphrey Bogart; The Great O'Malley (1937) with Pat O'Brien and Bogart, her first real break;San Quentin (1937), with O'Brien and Bogart, singing for the first time in a film; and Wine, Women and Horses (1937) with Barton MacLane.
Sheridan moved into B picture leads: The Footloose Heiress (1937); Alcatraz Island (1937) with John Litel; and She Loved a Fireman (1937) with Dick Foran for director John Farrow. She was a lead in The Patient in Room 18 (1937) and its sequel Mystery House (1938). Sheridan was in Little Miss Thoroughbred (1938) with Litel for Farrow and supported Dick Powell in Cowboy from Brooklyn (1938).
Universal borrowed her for a support role in Letter of Introduction (1938) at the behest of director John M. Stahl. For Farrow, she was in Broadway Musketeers (1938), a remake of Three on a Match (1932).
Sheridan's notices in Letter of Introduction impressed Warner Bros. executives. "Oomph" was described as "a certain indefinable something that commands male interest." and she began to get roles in A pictures, starting with Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), wherein she played James Cagney's love interest; Bogart, O'Brien and the Dead End Kids had supporting roles. The film was a big hit and critically acclaimed.
Sheridan was reunited with the Dead End Kids in They Made Me a Criminal (1938) starring John Garfield. She was third-billed in the Western Dodge City (1939), playing a saloon owner opposite Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. The film was another notable success.
In March 1939, Warner Bros. announced Sheridan had been voted by a committee of 25 men as the actress with the most "oomph" in America.
She received as many as 250 marriage proposals from fans in a single week. Tagged "The Oomph Girl"--a sobriquet which she reportedly loathed--Sheridan was a popular pin-up girl in the early 1940s. (On the other hand, a February 25, 1940, news story distributed by the Associated Press reported that Sheridan no longer "bemoaned the 'oomph' tag." She continued, "But I'm sorry now. I know if it hadn't been for 'oomph' I'd probably still be in the chorus.")
She was top billed in Indianapolis Speedway (1939) with O'Brien and Angels Wash Their Faces (1939) with O'Brien, the Dead End Kids and Ronald Reagan. Castle on the Hudson (1940) put her opposite Garfield and O'Brien.
Sheridan and Cagney were reunited in Torrid Zone (1940) with O'Brien in support. She was with George Raft, Bogart and Ida Lupino in They Drive by Night (1940), a trucking melodrama. Sheridan was back with Cagney for City for Conquest (1941) and then made Honeymoon for Three (1941), a comedy with George Brent.
Sheridan did two lighter films: Navy Blues (1941), a musical comedy, and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941), wherein she played a character modeled on Gertrude Lawrence. She then made Kings Row (1942), in which she received top billing playing opposite Ronald Reagan, Robert Cummings, and Betty Field. It was a huge success and one of Sheridan's most memorable films.
Sheridan and Reagan were reunited for Juke Girl (1942). She was in the war film Wings for the Eagle (1942) and made a comedy with Jack Benny, George Washington Slept Here (1943). She played a Norwegian resistance fighter in Edge of Darkness (1943) with Errol Flynn and was one of the many Warners stars who had cameos in Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943).
She was the heroine of a novel, Ann Sheridan and the Sign of the Sphinx, written by Kathryn Heisenfelt and published by Whitman Publishing Company in 1943. While the heroine of the story was identified as a famous actress, the stories were entirely fictitious. The story was probably written for a young teenaged 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 always featured a film actress as heroine.
Sheridan was absent from screens for over a year, touring with the USO to perform in front of the troops as far afield as China. She returned in One More Tomorrow (1946) with Morgan. She had an excellent role in the noir Nora Prentiss (1947), which was a hit. It was followed by The Unfaithful (1948), a popular remake of The Letter, and Silver River (1948), a Western melodrama with Errol Flynn.
Leo McCarey borrowed her to support Gary Cooper in Good Sam (1948). She was meant to star in Flamingo Road. She then left Warner Bros., saying: "I wasn't at all satisfied with the scripts they offered me."
In May 1949, she announced she wanted to produce Second Lady, a film based on a story by Eleanor Griffin. She was going to make Carriage Entrance at RKO. They fired her and Sheridan sued for $250,000..
Woman on the Run was distributed by Universal, and Sheridan signed a contract with that studio. While there, she made Steel Town (1952), Just Across the Street (1952), and Take Me to Town (1953), a comedy directed by Douglas Sirk.
Sheridan supported Glenn Ford in Appointment in Honduras (1953), directed by Jacques Tourneur. She appeared opposite Steve Cochran in Come Next Spring (1956) and was one of several stars in MGM's The Opposite Sex (1956). Her last film, The Woman and the Hunter, was shot in Africa.
She went to New York to appear in a Broadway show, but it did not make it to Broadway.
She did stage tours of Kind Sir (1958) and Odd Man In (1959), and The Time of Your Life at the Brussels World Fair in 1958. In all three shows, she acted with Scott McKay, whom she later married.
Her final work was a TV series of her own, a comedy Western entitled Pistols 'n' Petticoats, which was filmed during the year before her death and was broadcast on CBS on Saturday nights. The 19th episode of the series, "Beware the Hangman", aired, as scheduled, on the same day that she died.
Sheridan married actor Edward Norris August 16, 1936, in Ensenada, Mexico. They separated a year later and divorced in 1939. On January 5, 1942, she married fellow Warner Bros. star George Brent, who co-starred with her in Honeymoon for Three (1941). They divorced exactly one year later. Following her divorce from Brent, she had a long-term relationship with publicist Steve Hannagan, that lasted until his death in 1953. Hannagan's estate bequeathed Miss Sheridan $218,399 ($2.1 million in current dollars). On June 5, 1966, she married actor Scott McKay, who was with her when she died, six months later.
In 1966, Sheridan began starring in a new television series, a Western-themed comedy called Pistols 'n' Petticoats. She became ill during the filming and died of gastroesophageal cancer with massive liver metastases at age 51 on January 21, 1967, in Los Angeles. She was cremated and her ashes were stored at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles until they were interred in a niche in the Chapel Columbarium at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in 2005.
|1943||Screen Guild Players||Love Is News|
|1952||Stars in the Air||Good Sam|