She was versatile and, therefore, a workhorse at the studios. First at RKO then MGM. She made dramas, comedies, musicals. She made A films and programmers.
Long before her television career Ann Sothern was a top film star. (In this she is much like another recent Quiz subject, Red Skelton, with whom she appeared on the tube in 1953.)
In fact, Sothern started making movies in Hollywood as an extra in 1927, before sound came in. In the ensuing years she rolled up more than 100 film and tv credits taking her career all the way to 1987. She died in 2001 at age 92 — a long and productive life.
What may not be generally known about Sothern is what a smartly industrious performer she was. She embodied the hip-swinging, sassy blonds of the 1940’s who took no guff from oafish wolves — strong, resilient women presented long before the feminist movement took flight. She also was a smart business woman, one of the first who produced — and owned — her successful tv offerings.
That professional independence cost her, she later said. How dare a woman be competitive or producer her own shows? she asked rhetorically. I think Hollywood has been terrible to me.
Be that as it may, it behooves us classic movie fans to know more about Sothern that perhaps we do. Thus our Monday Quiz. As usual, questions today, answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Sothern always prided herself on being “multitalented.” What was her other skill? a) She was a singer; b) She could juggle; c) She was an a self-taught accountant; or d) She was a dancer.
2) Question: Sothern was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in: a) The Blue Gardenia; b) A Letter To Three Wives; c) The Whales of August; or d) Lady Be Good?
3) Question: Which of the following did Sothern NOT costar with? a) Maurice Chevalier; b) Eddie Cantor; c) Fredric March; or d) Gary Cooper.
4) Question: Sothern once costarred in a movie that had her actress-daughter playing her character at a young age. Can you identify who this actress-daughter is and what movie are we talking about?
5) Question: In her later years, Sothern appeared on tv noticeably heavier than in her movie days. What accounted for the weight gain? a) Her voracious appetite for rich foods; b) A bout of hepatitus; c) A thyroid problem; or d) Her lack of exercise.
6) Question: Sothern converted to Roman Catholicism thanks to her romance with which one of the following? a) Richard Egan; b) Gregory Peck; c) Alec Guinness; or d) Adolphe Menjou.
7) Question: From 1939 to 1947, Sothern successfully starred as the ditzy blond heroine in a series of 10 MGM movies. What was her feisty character’s name? a) Blondie; b) Sugar; c) Maisie; or d) Mimi.
8) Question: After solving her boss’ personal problems in her late Fifties starring turn in 104 tv episodes of Private Secretary, Sothern created The Ann Sothern Show. What was her role in that program? a) Her boss’ mistress; b) A madame; c) An assistant manager of the swanky New York Hotel; d) The wife of a famous politician.
9) Question: Sothern had a strong supporting role in director Fritz Lang’s 1953 film noir, The Blue Gardenia, which gave rise to a popular hit song. Who sang it? a) Sothern; b) Nat “King” Cole; c) Tommy Leonetti; or d) Elvis Presley.
10) Question: In her middle years, Sothern was often found herself portraying on the big screen which one of the following occupations? a) Gym teachers; b) Vocal Coaches; c) Madames; d) Business executives.