In her time she was one of the brightest stars in the Hollywood firmament.
Born Clara Lou Sheridan in Texas in 1915, she was a tomboy as a girl. Ann trained as a teacher before a beauty contest win — which came with a screen test at Paramount –intervened. (She made her movie debut at the studio with 1934’s Search For Beauty.) The win in a “Search For Beauty” contest landed her that Paramount Pictures contract.
Later, at Warner Bros., she was dubbed “the Oomph Girl” — a designation she resisted.
Sheridan was far more than a sex symbol, as worthy as that is. She was an actress of impressive versatility co-starring in hard boiled crime dramas — check her out in director Raoul Walsh’s 1940 gem, They Drive By Night opposite Humphrey Bogart and George Raft. (She excelled as well in “womens’ pictures” and in musicals.)
She played a sassy secretary in 1941’s Honeymoon For Three opposite dapper George Brent (Bette Davis’ favorite leading man and one-time lover). Whatever Brent had Sheridan liked since the two married in 1942 (it lasted a year). It was the second of her three marriages.
Although not a musical star, per se, Ann was allowed to sing in several films and had a damned good voice.
Catch a sleeper called It All Came True. The film was released in April 1940, when Sheridan was big box office. She got top billing ahead of Jeffrey Lynn, her love interest and then, Humphrey Bogart, who plays a crook hiding out in Lynn’s mother’s boarding house. Bogart turns the house into a nightclub where Ann and Lynn perform.
A few years later she co-starred with Dennis Morgan in Shine on Harvest Moon.
Most movie fans, if they remember Sheridan singing at all, remember her production number in one particular movie — Thank Your Lucky Stars, Warner’s all star vehicle about entertaining at the Hollywood Canteen. Ann in a negligee, in a bedroom setting belted out the provocative tune, “Love isn’t born, It’s made!”
Her most memorable film role for us remains in the little noted 1950 film noir Woman on the Run. Ann plays a wife pursuing her husband (a witness to a murder) amidst the blandishments of an all-too-accommodating journalist played by Dennis O’Keefe. No sex, no singing. Just some honest acting.
Sheridan’s career extended into the late Fifties, about a decade before her death from cancer at age 51 in 1967. We will always remember her as the classic screen knockout who could also sing.