Remembering Ann Sheridan

Putting the "oomph" back in "The Oomph Girl"

Ann Sheridan's
New York Times

Ann Sheridan, Actress, 51, Dies; Career Spanned 33-Year Period

'Man Who Came to Dinner' and 'Kings Row' Among Her Many Films

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Hollywood, January 21 (AP)

Ann Sheridan, the actress who was once billed as "the oomph girl" died today after a long illness in her San Fernando Valley home. She would have been 52 years old Feb. 21. The cause of her death was not divulged.

Miss Sheridan had recently returned to the limelight as star of the televison series, "Pistols 'n' Petticoats" on the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Beauty Contest Winner

Ann Sheridan, with her reddish-gold hair and youthful face and figure, was one of the very few beauty-contest winners ever to be heard from again after arriving in Hollywood.

She was one of 33 young girls brought to Hollywood in 1933 by Paramount Pictures as part of a promotional campaign for a picture called "Search for Beauty," and she was the only one who developed a career out of this publicity stunt.

During a Hollywood career in movies and television that spanned more than 30 years she was often suspected by studios - or went on strike as she used to call it - either because she felt she was not getting enough money or did not like the roles chosen for her.

In 1941, she went on a six month strike against Warner Brothers because she wanted more than the $600-a-week they were paying. But she lost and went back to work.

After World War II, she stayed out of pictures for 14 months because she was not allowed to choose her own roles. She took another sabbatical in 1956.

But eight years ago, her film career waning, Miss Sheridan turned to the stage and toured in "Kind Sir" with Scott McKay, who she married last June.
At Home in Many Roles

In her acting roles - which began with a one-picture contract she signed after winning the beauty contest -- Miss Sheridan was equally adept as a schoolmarm, dance hall queen, gangster's moll or comedienne. Before moving to Warner Brothers in 1939, she made five Westerns for Paramount, then quite to freelance.

As a relative newcomer to screen in 1935, Miss Sheridan palyed in "Car 99" the story of a manhunt, opposite Fred MacMurray.

Another early role cast her as a rowdy frontier dance-hall hostess with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in "Dodge City."

By the early 1940's Miss Sheridan had reached stardom. One of her best-known roles was hat of the feline actress in "The Man Who Came to Dinner" who tries to steal a young man from an unsophisticated Bette Davis.

Also in that 1942 screen version of the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart were Monty Woolley, Jimmy Durante and Billie Burke.

In the same year she starred as the wife of Jack Benny in "George Washington Slept Here" which is revived each Washington's Birthday on television.

Miss Sheridan appeared opposite Zachary Scott in "The Unfaithful" and James Cagney in "Angels with Dirty Faces."

In the wartime comedy, "I Was a Male War Bride" her leading man was Cary Grant.

Among her other films were "Kings Row" -- one of several in which she starred with Ronald Reagan -- "Shine on Harvest Moon" with Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson, and "The Opposite Sex."

In 1940, the Harvard Lampoon created a stir by characterizing her as the actress who was "the most unlikely to succeed," to which she quipped back, "Harvard is the home of the unadulterated heel -- and you may quote me."

She often admitted that she had no idea what "oomph" meant and described it as "what a fat man says when he leans over to tie his shoelace in a telephone booth."

Ann Sheridan was born Clara Lou Sheridan on Feb. 21, 1915 in Denton, Texas, a small town northwest of Dallas.

Miss Sheridan first married S. Edward Norris, a stage actor, in August 1936. They were divorced in October, 1937 having separated after just 375 days of marriage. Her second marriage to George Brent, another actor, on Jan. 5, 1942 lasted only 263 days.

In the 1940's she was linked romantically to the publicity agent Steve Hannagan. They were often reported about to be married, but Hannagan died a bachelor in 1953. He left Miss Sheridan nearly $250,000.

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