Cordially Yours, Ann Sothern,
By Colin Briggs, BearManor Media, 2007
Two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Harriette Lake was born January 22, 1909, in North Dakota to "traveling thespian" Walter and opera singer/diction coach Annette. Her father deserted the family when Ann was six and her mother took Ann and her two sisters to Iowa, then Minnesota, ultimately settling in southern California, where Annette became a vocal coach for the emerging talkies at Warner Bros. Studios.
Sothern performed in a number of small parts for Warners and MGM, got tired of the smallness of them, and went on to perform in musicals on the New York stage, still using the name Harriette Lake. Tiring of that, she went back to Hollywood and signed with Columbia Studios, where she changed her name to Ann (for her mother) Sothern (for E.H. Sothern, a Shakespearean actor). At Columbia she met lifelong friend, Lucille Ball, and the two of them worked near or around each other in movies and television for the rest of their lives.
Even though it would be her only Academy Award nomination, I have absolutely no recollection of her in Whales of August, the much-hyped 1987 film starring Bette Davis looking older than Lillian Gish.
Sothern was a conservative Republican and devout anti-Communist who supported the activities of the Committe on House Un-American Activities (HUAC). Not sure why this doesn't surprise me, but it's not my favorite thing to know about her.
I've always enjoyed her easy style and natural delivery. She gave one of my favorite performances in one of my favorite films of all time: A Letter to Three Wives.
Happy birthday, Ms. Sothern.
Nice Little Portrait (1988)