Recently we received a note from photographer John Lot who happened upon one of our older blogs about Joan Crawford and her co-star in Mildred Pierce, Ann Blyth. We asked John to share some of his photos and reminiscences about Ann.
I had been interested in art director Anton Grot’s work for a while. He worked on many films with Michael Curtiz, and is credited on numerous other Warner features in the thirties and forties. One of my first jobs was with Anton Grot on the film set of ‘Mildred Pierce.’ I was hired as a set stills photographer.
I would take still shots of the film set construction as it went up. It was being built on at the old Warner Bros. Studio backlot on Sunset Boulevard. At the time I still had a job working as a darkroom assistant on Sunset Boulevard for Consolidated Film Industries, where I would continue to work for the next four years.
I first made the acquaintance of Ann Blyth on the set of the film. It was Anton Grot that called Ann over and introduced me to her. Warner Bros had borrowed Ann for this film.
What was so special about Ann? Well, she was just a nice person who always had a warm smile and a pleasant word. She exuded maternal compassion and was always willing to listen to anyone’s tales of woe (including mine).
John reminds us that in those days members of the film crew did not fraternize with the actors– that was the golden rule.
But, obviously certain stars, like Crawford and Blyth did not subscribe to that way of thinking. Ann and John became friends.
John tells us: It was later that year, 1945, while filming ‘Danger Signal’ that Ann had a serious accident. During filming she suffered a broken back while sledding. It all happened while she was on a brief vacation in Snow Valley 14 miles from Lake Arrowhead.
It was Joan Crawford who let Ann swim in her pool. Ann and I would go there all the time to swim and exercise. I would push her around in that wheelchair day after day and I would take Ann over to Joan Crawford’s in my car.
She said Crawford was always gracious, generous, a supportive actress who understood that this was a big chance for Ann. She wanted the film to work and she wanted Ann to do well.
Thanks John. We’ll have more of John’s recollections and photos tomorrow. Meanwhile readers can check out John’s blog by clicking here.