23 August 2007 | Emaisie39
The delectable Ann Sothern's last series
Ann Sothern was always an amazingly talented woman. She had a beautiful singing voice (the Oscar winning "Lady Be Good"MGM 1941),was a superb dramatic actress(the Oscar winning "A Letter to Three Wives"20th 1948) and a wonderful comedienne(the classic "Trade Winds" UA 1938 and 50 years later Oscar nominated for her performance opposite Bette Davis and Lillian Gish in "The Whales of August" 1987). She remained a very big star for 30 years but today she is mysteriously forgotten. Like Eve Arden she could make a nothing script funny or at least amusing with her one of a kind timing. She was a star by 1935 and reached her peak as a major MGM star in the early forties though that studio rarely put her in the quality vehicles she deserved. By 1951 she had left MGM for the stage but hepatitis cut this short. Her old friend Lucille Ball had also been a highly popular yet misused star throughout the forties but Lucy suddenly became one of the greatest superstars with the debut of "I Love Lucy" in October 1951. Following Lucy's lead, the still very beautiful Ann jumped into the new medium in 1952. Her first Television sitcom "Private Secretary" debuted to mediocre reviews but great popularity in early 1953. When seen today this show as well as its followup "The Ann Sothern Show" is quite entertaining and Ann is at her most charismatic in both series which she produced herself. She had great chemistry with handsome Don Porter, mousy Ann Tyrell and just in P.S. catty Joan Banks. The Sothern-Porter-Tyrell team remained on the air almost continuously from February 1953 through September 1961 winning Sothern five Emmy nominations for Best Actress in a Comedy. Sothern first teamed with Lucy for the classic "Lucy and Desi Meet in Havana"(10/1957) special. They were back together on "The Ann Sothern Show" in 1959 but had their most delightful moments together on several marvelous "Lucy Show" episodes in 1965 which gave Ann her last big success. Though well past forty Sothern remained extremely beautiful in both hit series but her weight fluctuated wildly. In 1953 she still had her pinup girl figure but by early 1956 she had ballooned to such an extent she was always filmed in black and hidden behind over-sized clipboards, file cabinets and large plants. Watching these photographic tricks maintain Sothern's allusion of youth and sexiness is an amazing thing to see. By the debut of "The Ann Sothern Show" in October 1958 she had slimmed down considerably but she never got her figure back like it was in those early days of "Private Secretary."She remained a comedic delight until her last show was cancelled in late 1961. She returned to films in several superb performances through the mid-70s but her popularity finally faded out. Nonetheless she is still a joy to watch.