Girls came and went in all the Andy Hardy movies, but one girl remained constant — Polly Benedict, Andy’s true love.
And throughout the late Thirties and early Forties pretty, perky Ann Rutherford portrayed Polly.
Ann had quite a career in other films as well. Who can forget her as the youngest of the O’Hara sisters in 1939’s Gone With the Wind? Or as the flighty youngest sister, Lydia, in Pride and Prejudice, made a year later?
All in all she costarred opposite Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy in 12 of the 16 films.
In the early Forties, MGM used her as a foil for another comedy star they had under contract, Red Skelton. Ann portrayed Red’s girlfriend Carol Lambert in Whistling in the Dark, Whistling in Dixie, and Whistling in Brooklyn. Light fare about a radio sleuth who gets mixed up in real cases.
These three films and ALL the Hardy films were low budget /high profit films for the studio.
Ann also appeared onscreen as something less than an eligible goodie-two-shoes. At Fox, she played a murder suspect in 1944’s Bermuda Mystery. Two years later she made Murder in the Music Hall at Republic. Warner Bros. cast her in a supporting role in 1948’s Adventures of Don Juan starring Errol Flynn. And Fox teamed her with George Montgomery in 1942’s Orchestra Wives, which featured an appearance by The Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Ann also wasn’t averse to an occasional pin-up shot to promote herself and her pictures. One we like shows her off nicely, getting ready for an afternoon dip in what supposedly is her personal swimming pool.
Ann’s character, Polly Benedict, wasn’t in the first, or the last three Hardy movies. She’d -left MGM by then and tried her hand at other studios. But her feature career never really took off. From the Fifties on, she stuck almost exclusively to television. Her 41-year career, begun in 1935, ended in 1976.
Rooney wanted her to play his wife in 1958’s Andy Hardy Comes Home. She refused. She said she didn’t believe most people married their first sweethearts. She also thought the plot of the film (Andy was now the Judge in Carvel) to be a bit unrealistic. Turning down that role was smart.
But decades later she turned down another role, the old woman in Titanic. Gloria Stuart got the part.
Ironically the all American girl (who’d started her career in low budget Westerns opposite John Wayne) was Canadian, born in Vancouver. She died in 2012 at the age of 94.