Ann Blyth

Ann Marie Blyth (born August 16, 1928) is an American actress and singer, often cast in Hollywood musicals, but also successful in dramatic roles. For her performance as Veda Pierce in the 1945 film Mildred Pierce, Blyth was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Ann Blyth
Blyth in August 1954 for Modern Screen Magazine.
Ann Marie Blyth

(1928-08-16) August 16, 1928
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1933–1985
James McNulty
(m. 1953; died 2007)
FamilyDennis Day (brother-in-law)

She is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Life and career

Early life

Blyth was born August 16, 1928, in Mount Kisco, New York, to Harry and Nan Lynch Blyth.[1] After her parents separated, she, her mother and sister moved to a walk-up apartment on East 31st Street in New York City, where her mother took in ironing.[2] Blyth attended St. Patrick's School in Manhattan.

Watch on the Rhine

Blyth performed on children's radio shows in New York for six years, making her first appearance when she was five.[3][4] When she was nine she joined the New York Children's Opera Company.[5]

Her first acting role was on Broadway in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine (from 1941 until 1942). She played the part of Paul Lukas's daughter, Babette. The play ran for 378 performances,[6] and won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. After the New York run, the play went on tour, and while performing at the Biltmore Theatre in Los Angeles, Blyth was offered a contract with Universal Studios.[5]


Blyth began her acting career initially as "Anne Blyth", but changed the spelling of her first name back to "Ann" at the beginning of her film career. She made her film debut in 1944, teamed with Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan in the teen-age musical Chip Off the Old Block (1944).[3]

She followed it with two similar films: The Merry Monahans (1944) with O'Connor and Ryan again, and Babes on Swing Street (1944) with Ryan. She had a support role in the bigger budgeted Bowery to Broadway (1944), a showcase of Universal musical talent.[7]

On loan to Warner Brothers, Blyth was cast "against type" as Veda Pierce, the scheming, ungrateful daughter of Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945). Her dramatic portrayal won her outstanding reviews, and she received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[1] Blyth was only 16 when she made the Michael Curtiz film.[3] (Crawford won the Best Actress award for that film.)

After Mildred Pierce, Blyth sustained a broken back while tobogganing in Snow Valley,[8] and was not able to fully capitalize on the film's success.

She recovered and made two films for Mark Hellinger's unit at Universal: Swell Guy (1946), with Sonny Tufts, and Brute Force (1947) with Burt Lancaster.[9] During this time her father died.[5]

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer borrowed her to play the female lead in Killer McCoy (1947), a boxing film with Mickey Rooney that was a box office hit.[10]

Back at Universal she did a film noir with Charles Boyer, A Woman's Vengeance (1948). She was then cast in the part of Regina Hubbard in Lillian Hellman's Another Part of the Forest (1948), an adaptation of the 1946 play where Regina had been played by Patricia Neal. The play was a prequel to The Little Foxes.

Blyth followed it with Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948) with William Powell. She was top billed in Red Canyon (1949), a Western with Howard Duff.

Paramount borrowed Blyth to play the female lead in Top o' the Morning (1949), a daughter of Barry Fitzgerald who is romanced by Bing Crosby. It was the first time she sang on screen.[11]

Back at Universal she was teamed with Robert Montgomery in Once More, My Darling (1949), meaning she had to drop out of Desert Legion.[12] She did a comedy with Robert Cummings, Free for All (1949).

In April 1949, Universal suspended her for refusing a lead role in Abandoned (1949). Gale Storm played it.[13]

Sam Goldwyn borrowed her to star opposite Farley Granger in Our Very Own (1950). Universal gave her top billing in a romantic comedy, Katie Did It (1951).

Blyth was borrowed by MGM for The Great Caruso (1951) opposite Mario Lanza which was a massive box office hit.

She made Thunder on the Hill (1951) with Claudette Colbert and had the female lead in The Golden Horde (1951) with David Farrar.

20th Century Fox borrowed her to star opposite Tyrone Power in I'll Never Forget You (1952), a last minute replacement for Constance Smith.[14] She appeared on TV in Family Theater in an episode called "The World's Greatest Mother" alongside Ethel Barrymore.

Universal teamed Blyth with Gregory Peck in The World in His Arms (1952). She was top billed in the comedy Sally and Saint Anne (1952) and was borrowed by RKO for One Minute to Zero (1952), a Korean War drama with Robert Mitchum where she replaced Claudette Colbert who came down with pneumonia.


MGM had been interested in Blyth since The Great Caruso. In December 1953, Blyth left Universal and she signed a long term contract with MGM.[15]

She was the leading lady in All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953) with Stewart Granger and Robert Taylor, stepping in for Elizabeth Taylor who had to drop out due to pregnancy.[16]

On television she was in a version of A Place in the Sun for Lux Video Theatre alongside John Derek.

Back at MGM Blyth had the lead in the remake of Rose Marie (1954) with Howard Keel, which earned over $5 million but lost money due to high costs.[10] Plans to make other Nelson-Eddy films (The Girl from the Golden West) was discussed[11] ) did not work out.

She was meant to be reteamed with Lanza in The Student Prince (1954) but he was fired from the studio and was replaced in the picture by Edmund Purdom;[17] the film did well at the box office.

Blyth and Purdom were reunited on a swashbuckler, The King's Thief (1955). She was teamed again with Keel on the musical Kismet (1955). Despite strong reviews the film was a financial flop.[10]

She was named for the female lead in The Adventures of Quentin Durward (1955) but was eventually not cast in the film.[18]

MGM put Blyth in Slander (1957) with Van Johnson.

Final features

Sidney Sheldon cast Blyth in The Buster Keaton Story (1957) with O'Connor at Paramount.

Warner Bros then cast her in the title role of The Helen Morgan Story (1957) directed by Michael Curtiz with Paul Newman. Blyth reportedly beat 40 other actos for the part.[19] Even though her voice was more like the original Helen Morgan, her vocals were dubbed by Gogi Grant. That soundtrack was much more successful than the film itself. Blyth made no further films.

In 1957, she sued Benedict Bogeaus for $75,000 for not making the film Conquest.[20]

Theatre and television

From the late 1950s into the 1970s, Blyth worked in musical theater and summer stock, starring in the shows The King and I, The Sound of Music, and Show Boat.[21][22] and also on television, including co-starring opposite James Donald in the 1960 adaptation of A.J. Cronin's novel, The Citadel.

She guest starred on episodes of The DuPont Show with June Allyson, The Dick Powell Theatre, Saints and Sinners, The Christophers, Wagon Train (several episodes), The Twilight Zone ("Queen of the Nile"),[23] Burke's Law, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Insight, and The Name of the Game. Several of these appearances were for Four Star Television with whom Blyth signed a multi-appearance contract.[24]

Blyth also became the spokesperson for Hostess Cupcakes.

Her last television appearances were in episodes of Switch and Quincy, M.E. in 1983 and Murder, She Wrote in 1985 (the year she officially retired).

For her contributions to the film industry, Blyth has a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6733 Hollywood Boulevard.[25]

Personal life

In the December 1952 edition of Motion Picture and Television Magazine, Ann Blyth stated in an interview that she was a Republican who had endorsed Dwight D. Eisenhower for president, the month before during the 1952 presidential election.[26]

In 1955, an armed man who had written her fan letters was arrested near her house.[27]

In 1953, Blyth married obstetrician James McNulty, brother of singer Dennis Day, who had introduced them. The bridesmaids were actresses Joan Leslie, Jane Withers, and Betty Lynn. The couple received special commendation from the Pope.[28]

After her marriage, Blyth took somewhat of a reprieve from her career to focus on raising their five children, Timothy Patrick (born June 10, 1954); Maureen Ann (born December 14, 1955); Kathleen Mary (born December 23, 1957); Terence Grady (born December 9, 1960); and Eileen Alana (born April 10, 1963).[29][30]

In 1973, she and McNulty, both devout Catholics, were accorded the honorific rank of Lady and Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in a ceremony presided over by Terence Cardinal Cooke.[31] McNulty died on May 13, 2007, in La Jolla, California.[31]


Year Title Role Notes
1944 Chip Off the Old Block Glory Marlow III
The Merry Monahans Sheila DeRoyce
Babes on Swing Street Carol Curtis
Bowery to Broadway Bessie Jo Kirby
1945 Mildred Pierce Veda Pierce Forrester Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress Nomination
1946 Swell Guy Marian Tyler
1947 Brute Force Ruth
Killer McCoy Sheila Carrson
1948 A Woman's Vengeance Doris Mead Alternative title: The Gioconda Smile
Another Part of the Forest Regina Hubbard
Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid Lenore the Mermaid
1949 Red Canyon Lucy Bostel
Top o' the Morning Conn McNaughton
Once More, My Darling Marita Connell
Free for All Ann Abbott
1950 Our Very Own Gail Macaulay
1951 Katie Did It Katherine Standish
The Great Caruso Dorothy Benjamin
Thunder on the Hill Valerie Carns Alternative title: Bonaventure
I'll Never Forget You Helen Pettigrew / Martha Forsyth Alternative titles: The House in the Square (USA)
Man of Two Worlds
The Golden Horde Princess Shalimar Alternative title: The Golden Horde of Genghis Khan
1952 The World in His Arms Countess Marina Selanova
Sally and Saint Anne Sally O'Moyne
One Minute to Zero Mrs. Landa Day
1953 All the Brothers Were Valiant Priscilla "Pris" Holt
1954 Rose Marie Rose Marie Lemaitre
The Student Prince Kathie Ruder
1955 The King's Thief Lady Mary
Kismet Marsinah
1957 Slander Connie Martin
The Buster Keaton Story Gloria Brent
The Helen Morgan Story Helen Morgan Alternative titles are Both Ends of the Candle and
Why Was I Born?
Vocals dubbed by Gogi Grant
Year Title Role Notes
1954 Lux Video Theatre Episode: "A Place in the Sun"
1958–1963 The Christophers 2 episodes
1959 The DuPont Show with June Allyson Martha Episode: "Suspected"
1959–1963 Wagon Train Nancy Winters / Eve Newhope / Clementine Jones / Martha Barham / Jenny / Phoebe Tannen 5 episodes
1960 The Citadel Christine Television movie
1962 The Dick Powell Show Lizzie Hogan Episode: "Savage Sunday"
1963 Saints and Sinners Edith Berlitz Episode: "The Year Joan Crawford Won the Oscar"
1964 The Twilight Zone Pamela Morris / Constance Taylor Episode: "Queen of the Nile"
1964–1965 Burke's Law Deidre DeMara
2 episodes
1965 Kraft Suspense Theatre Lady Mei Episode: "Jungle of Fear"
1969 The Name of the Game Kay Martin Episode: "Swingers Only"
1975 Switch Miriam Estabrook Episode: "Mistresses, Murder and Millions"
1979–1983 Quincy, M.E. Velma Whitehead
Dorothy Blake
2 episodes
1985 Murder, She Wrote Francesca Lodge Episode: "Reflections of the Mind", (final appearance)

Radio appearances

1948Lux Radio TheatreA Woman's Vengeance[32]
1952Family TheaterThe Presentation[33]
1952Lux Radio TheatreTop o' the Morning[34]
1953Family TheaterThe Finding in the Temple[35]

Award nominations

Year Award Result Category Film
1946 Academy Award Nominated Best Supporting Actress Mildred Pierce
1958 Laurel Awards Top Female Musical Performance The Helen Morgan Story


  1. "Ann Blyth", Turner Classic Movies
  2. "Anne Blyth on Personal Faith", Guideposts, December 1952
  3. King, Susan (August 12, 2013). "Ann Blyth gets a TCM salute for her birthday". Los Angeles Times.
  4. Ann Blyth an Actress Since She Was 5 Chicago Daily Tribune 29 Jan 1950: G3.
  5. THE BLYTH SPIRIT: Show Business Still Stimulating to Ann Blyth, Youthful But Veteran Trouper By WILLIAM BROWNELLHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times 12 Oct 1952: X5.
  6. "Watch on the Rhine". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2015-08-09.
  7. Metro to Split Garson, Pidgeon Combination: 'The Bullfighter,' Latin-American Yarn, Chosen as Subject for Laurel and Hardy Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 22 Apr 1944: 5.
  8. Blyth, Ann, "My Career Took a Toboggan Ride," in Peale, Norman Vincent (ed.) Faith Made Them Champions. Carmel, NY: Guideposts Associates, Inc., 1954, pp. 114–117.
  9. The Life Story of ANN BLYTH Picture Show; London Vol. 53, Iss. 1389, (Nov 12, 1949): 12.
  10. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  11. Ann Blyth: Success Without an Enemy Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 6 June 1954: E1.
  12. ANN BLYTH SHIFTS ROLE AT U-I STUDIO: New York Times 4 Feb 1949: 31.
  13. GIL LAMB TO HEAD RKO VARIETY FILM: ' Make Mine Laughs' Scheduled the Studio -- U-I Suspends Ann Blyth From Salary By THOMAS F. BRADY New York Times 3 May 1949: 31.
  14. "Notes for I'll Never Forget You (1951)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  15. ANN BLYTH LEAVING UNIVERSAL DEC. 20: Seen Signing M-G-M Contract -- May Play Lead in New Version of 'Rose Marie' By THOMAS M. PRYORS New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]04 Dec 1952: 47.
  16. 'Caesar' Pioneer to Do Gauguin; Adventuress Bids for Mala Powers Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 12 February 1953 A11
  17. Ronald Bergan (January 24, 2009). "Edmund Purdom (obituary)". The Guardian. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  18. Ann Blyth, Taylor Named as Costars Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 25 July 1953: A7.
  19. 40 Tested, but Ann Blyth Won Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 9 June 1957: F1.
  20. Ann Blyth Seeks $75,000 in Suit Los Angeles Times 1 Jan 1957: B1.
  21. Amador, Tavo (July 17, 2006). "The Real Veda Pierce: A Serene Ann Blyth". Bay Area Reporter.
  22. "Memories of Melody Top: Remembering Milwaukee's Summer Stock Theatre". DGP. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  23. Ann Blyth Stars Los Angeles Times 22 Oct 1963: F13.
  24. Multiple Contract Signed by Ann Blyth Los Angeles Times 21 June 1962: C11.
  25. "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Ann Blyth". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  26. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, December 1952, page 28, Ideal Publishers
  27. Armed Man Seized Near Home of Ann Blyth: Police Report Finding Spring-Blade Knife, Two Shotguns, Rifle and Blackjack in Auto Los Angeles Times 13 Sep 1955: 4.
  28. Ann Blyth Wed as 600 Watch Church Service: ANN BLYTH MARRIED Los Angeles Times 28 June 1953: 1.
  29. Daughter Born to Ann Blyth Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]11 Apr 1963: 30.
  30. Anderson, Nancy. "Ann Blyth has Cake and Eats it", Lodi News-Sentinel, August 22, 1974
  31. "Ann Blyth Profile". Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  32. "Boyer, Blyth Play Original Roles on 'Lux'". Harrisburg Telegraph. March 20, 1948. p. 22. Retrieved August 8, 2015 via
  33. Kirby, Walter (December 28, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 36. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  34. Kirby, Walter (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 23, 2015 via
  35. Kirby, Walter (January 11, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved June 19, 2015 via

Further reading

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 22-23.
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