Ann Richards (Ann Richards)

Ann Richards

Actress.  Shirley Ann Richards was born to an American father and a New Zealand mother and educated in Australia.  Her acting career began at the Sydney Players Club when her amateur talent was recognized by Cimesound Productions.  In 1937 she was given a role in noted Australian producer and director Ken Hall’s film, “It Isn’t Done”.  She received positive reviews from the critics, which led to the signing of a 12-month contract with Cimesound Productions. Carl Ward Dudley, a noted American director and producer, had worked on this script and became interested in supporting her career.  She had roles in five more films with the best being in 1938 “Dad and Dave Come to Town”.  In 1940 she was in the stage production of “Charley’s Aunt”, which was followed the next year with her last Australian film “100,000 Cobbers”, a documentary by Hall to boost military recruitment for World War II. Crossing the war-infested Pacific Ocean on the first ship after the Pearl Harbor attack, she escaped to the United States on December 11, 1941 to be Dudley’s house guest.  With his help, her career advanced very quickly as she had a role in “The Woman in the House” within weeks; a contract signing with MGM and she started using the stage name of “Ann Richards”.  With her experience, she came to Hollywood with not only acting abilities but also she had a youthful beauty, a willingness to work and a soft-spoken Australian accent. Early in her career, she often was compared to established British actors Greer Garson and Olivia de Havilland. In 1942 “Random Harvest” with Greer Garson was followed by “Dr. Gillespie’s New Assistant”, which was part of the Dr. Kildare series. These were followed with “Three Hearts for Julia” in 1943 with Ann Sothern and “An American Romance” in 1944, which would be her last MGM film.  This film took fifteen months to complete, changed both the male and female lead-role actors, was over two-and-a-half-hours long, and its final budget totaled $3,000,000.  After all that effort, scenes were cut and many of hers were found on the editing room’s floor.  Besides this incident, this frustrated starlet had a serious disagreement with her studio about the long waits between movies, the refusal to loan her to another studio for a Cecil B. DeMille production, and reneging on at least two promising parts. Her acting career continued with Paramount Studios as she triumphed in the classic film William Dieterle’s “Love Letters” in 1945 starring Joseph Cotton and Jenifer Jones.  Originally, Richards had been promised Jones’ lead role, but Jones got the part that was followed with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the lead role. The movie got negative reviews, yet was a box office hit and was nominated for three more Academy Awards. Released on New Year’s Day 1946, “The Searching Wind” with Robert Young and later in the year, “Badman’s Territory” a western with Randolph Scott, gave her parts in two movies, neither being a great success. Moving to Eagel-Loin Productions, she made two more ill-fated films, “Lost Honeymoon” and “Love from A Stranger”. “Sorry, Wrong Number” in 1948 gave her a strong supporting role with Barbara Stanwyck, who was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress in her lead role.  This may have been the most memorable film Richards made. In 1949, she married producer and director Edmond Angelo.  The same year, she was contracted for a film “Michelle”, which was never produced.   In 1952, she had the role in her last film, “Breakdown”, which was produced and directed by her husband without much success. Her husband was so disappointed in the reviews that he left the film industry for a space engineering position.  In 1960, she had a role in “They Like Me Fine”, an episode on the TV program “General Electric Theater”.  At this point in her life, she turned toward being a mother of her three children and writing two published volumes of poetry: “The Grieving Senses” in 1971 and “Odyssey for Edmond” in 1991. Also, in the 1970s she wrote the verse play “Helen of Troy”, which she and her husband, produced and presented on college campuses. As a poet, Richards was a panelist at the California Writers Conference at California State University, was chairman of the International Senior League presenting awards to outstanding educators, and was on the lector circuit giving advice on writing, acting and other subjects. In 1984, she appeared as herself in “Don’t Call Me Girlie”, an Australian documentary about women in the film industry during the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Although she may not have fulfilled the expectations of being the next Greer Garson, she had a notable and interesting acting career. (bio by: Linda Davis)

Born

  • December, 13, 1917

Died

  • August, 08, 2006

Other

  • Cremated

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