Ann Blyth

Having started work in the late 1940’s, Hollywood, and its top film stars of the 1940’s, continued to provide quality entertainment to their audience. Although the early part of the decade provided financial challenges to the entire nation, America’s desire for entertainment was still in great demand. In an effort to meet the demand, and continue with its Golden Era, Hollywood was once again successful in providing a number of talented new stars and producing many popular films.

I was just 16 years old and I was fortunate enough to land a job working in the film department in a darkroom at, Consolidated Film Industries. Consolidated Film Industries was a film laboratory and film processing company, and was one of the leading film laboratories in the Los Angeles area for many decades. CFI processed negatives and made prints for motion pictures industry, this is where I worked part time for four years.

 

Both my uncles, work a Warner Brothers Studios Burbank, as did my father, one day I was on the film lot going to see my father when I so this young sitting on the steppes of Stage5. This was my earliest recollections is of see Ann Blyth. I first made the acquaintance of Ann Blyth on the film set of Mildred Pierce, (1945). Warner Bros had borrowed Ann for this film. It was Anton Grot’s that called Ann over and introduces me to her. What was so special about Ann? Well, she was just a nice person who always had a warm smile and a pleasant word for she exuded maternal compassion and was ever willing to listen to anyone’s tales of woe (including mine).  Ann Blyth would always say hello  and on set she would always try to be of help if I was just hanging round waiting for my father  on set or she waiting just standing on her mark  and wait until the people had finished  and then to get ready to do her part “act”.

www.and me

It was five days after wrapping this major film that Ann Blyth experienced a horrific even. Her mother took Ann and some friends up to the Lake Arrowhead area in the San Bernardino Mountains to have a few days’ holiday in the snow in April 1945. Ann was injured in a toboggan accident.  “She was sailing down the hard-packed icy hillside like snow birds, then there was a crash and I fell on my back with a sickening thud.” She was 16 years old.  She had fractured her spine. After seven months, she was freed from the body cast, put into a steel back brace from her neck to her lower back, and allowed to take a few steps.  She spent several months in and out of her wheelchair, in therapy (which included swimming in Joan Crawford’s pool) and she finally did graduate with her studio school class in her wheelchair.  There was a bright, shining moment during her convalescence when she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Mildred Pierce.

www.ann on set- 8

Four months after the Oscars, over a month after Ann was finally allowed to remove the back brace for good, only a few weeks after her returning to work on a new movie, Mrs Blyth died of cancer in July 1946. Ann was 17 years old, less than a month shy of her 18th birthday.  Fortunately, her mother’s sister and brother-in-law around this time gave up their home in Connecticut and moved out to California to help during the family crisis, and stayed.  As guardians and parent-figures her aunt and uncle thereafter had a huge supportive part in her life.

After graduating as an electrical engineer from California Institute of Technology I was hired by Byron Haskin, ASC, and head of the Warner Bros. Special Effects Department on Stage 5 in Burbank. Since this was the largest such department in the movie business, I was able to work with some of the top cinematographers in the effects field, such as ASC fellows Edwin  DuPar, Hans Koenekamp and Warren Lynch. When Warner Bros. purchased First National’s studio in Burbank, California, I signed a contract and remained with the studio on and off for the next 40 years.

My first day at work was at gate-2, stage-5, Warner Bros. Special Effects Department on Stage 5 in Burbank. Yawning myself awake in an empty film set, that impossibility disappeared. So what if there was sacrifice? Waking up with a pumping adrenal gland wasn’t ideal, but it was better than lying in bed knowing your hours were auctioned off to a status quo you never wanted in the first place.

www. hot water

I was never one to value money over time. Growing up in Los Angeles life was more about community than profit. My parents stressed achievement, but championed leisure. My sister and I were pushed to make straight A’s, earning annual road trip vacations to diverse locales—beautiful Fort Walton Beach, Florida, historic Williamsburg, Virginia, or rustic Bangor, Maine. Our dollar seemed to stretch further than other families’. When my sister became a lawyer, I drifted slowly into the arts. A long side working has a sound engineer, I got a part time job as a Unit Stills Photographer Stills includes close-ups of the actors and crew, and wide shots of the crew shooting the action, this work ran side by side with me on the film set as a sound engineer making movies.

www.shoe off

 

I worked with Ann on and off for more than seven years and we became closer and closer friends over those years. Ann was definitely one of those people that make you feel good to be around. Everyone felt that way. I definitely enjoyed being around her but didn’t feel anything romantic. After the first year of knowing each other we started hanging out more but still in a friend’s way. We went to movies and stuff together but they weren’t dates. We were like this for over a year and honestly it was a great year. I would go on dates a lot and think ‘this would be more fun with Ann’ but I still didn’t think of her romantically until I got to go on location with a different film company I was loaded out to Universal Studio. Suddenly we didn’t see each other as much anymore and it was really killing me. I spent probably a month trying to sort through my feelings but ultimately just decided that this had to be some kind of love I’d never felt before and didn’t recognize. So, I called her and we had some chit chat and then I just asked her, ‘Ann, do you want to go on a date with me?’ She sort of chuckled for a second and then said ‘duh, of course.’ It was hilarious and things just fell together after that.”

I’ve been in love with my friend for over 5 years. We’ve been friends with “benefits” for over 2 years. Over the years she always assumed we were just friends and as for me, I agreed with everything he said because I loved her. One day she told me, that she was getting married to a guy that was many years older. She finally accepted his proposal. I was devastated when she told me the news. I decided then I would cut her off because I could not handle it emotionally. I just wanted to crawl up in a hole and cry. So I cut her off. It was over six weeks I didn’t hear from her. She had got upset and came to see me. She said she was “hurt” I stopped talking to her. She still wants us to be friends and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to carry on as we were. She didn’t think it was a big deal that he was getting married but we could still maintain being friends. She couldn’t forget me and she will never erase me from his life. How can I pretend to be her friend? On the 27 June 1953 she got married to a Dr. James Vincent McNulty in North Hollywood. She’s twenty-four; he was thirty-five.

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We had been going out since we were both 17th years old her birthday was on the 16 August 1928 and mine was on the 8 August 1928 we first met. Ann Blyth big break when she was allowed to test for Mildred Pierce at the Warner Bros. studio. I first made the acquaintance of Ann Blyth on the film set of Mildred Pierce, (1945). Warner Bros had borrowed Ann for this film. It was Anton Grot’s that called Ann over and introduces me to her. What was so special about Ann? Well, she was just a nice person who always had a warm smile and a pleasant word for she exuded maternal compassion and was ever willing to listen to anyone’s tales of woe (including mine). It was five days after wrapping this major film that Ann Blyth experienced a horrific event, and would spend her remaining teen years in a most heart breaking series of personal challenges. It was five days after wrapping this major film that Ann Blyth experienced an horrific even. Her mother took Ann and some friends up to the Lake Arrowhead area in the San Bernardino Mountains to have a few days’ holiday in the snow in April 1945. Ann was injured in a toboggan accident.  “She was sailing down the hard-packed icy hillside like snow birds, then there was a crash and I fell on my back with a sickening thud.” She was 16 years old.  She had fractured her spine. After seven months, she was freed from the body cast, put into a steel back brace from her neck to her lower back, and allowed to take a few steps.  She spent several months in and out of her wheelchair, in therapy (which included swimming in Joan Crawford’s pool) and she finally did graduate with her studio school class in her wheelchair.

There was a bright, shining moment during her convalescence when she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Mildred Pierce.

Four months after the Oscars, over a month after Ann was finally allowed to remove the back brace for good, only a few weeks after her returning to work on a new movie, Mrs Blyth died of cancer in July 1946. Ann was 17 years old, less than a month shy of her 18th birthday.

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