Actress Ann Sothern, Oscar-nominated leading lady and star of her own television series, died of heart failure on Friday, associates said. Sothern, whose career lasted 70 years started in Hollywood as an extra and spent a decade as a B-movie regular, becoming a major star after she got the lead role in 1939's Maisie, an MGM film about the adventures of an energetic showgirl that was originally intended for Jean Harlow. Sothern captured the street-smart, independent title character so well that MGM made nine more Maisie movies, one of the studio's most successful series and one that transformed Sothern into a household name and a feminist icon. Sothern earned five Emmy nominations for her two TV shows, which she produced, and won a Golden Globe Award. The actress then lent her voice to the 1960's sitcom My Mother The Car. Sothern spent much of the 1970s and 80s in semi-retirement, but returned in 1987 to star alongside fellow screen legends Lillian Gish, Bette Davis and Vincent Price in The Whales Of August for which she received her first Academy Award nomination.