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For the week of March 21 through 27, 2001

Screen legend Ann Sothern dies


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Popular singer and actress Ann Sothern passed away late Thursday night at her home in Ketchum. She was the last of those from Hollywoodís Golden Age who made the Sun Valley area their second home.

Born Harriette Lake in Valley City, N.D., in 1909, Sothern began her career on the stage in the early 1930s. Her name was changed when she signed a contract with the autocratic Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures, who also changed her from a redhead to a blonde.

The glamorous and multi- talented Sothern was married twice and had one daughter, Tisha Sterling, and a granddaughter, Heidi Bates Hogan, both of whom live in the Wood River Valley.

Among her best known movies were the Maisie comedy-adventure series; she appeared as the energetic, scatterbrained Maisie in 10 films. Those movies, along with her television shows, Private Secretary and The Ann Sothern Show, which she produced, made her a feminist icon. Both shows featured Sothern as a working girl in New York City.

The deftly comedic Sothern also appeared in many musicals, both on the stage and on screen. Her good voice and shrewd talents were displayed to advantage in many musicals, among them Panama Hattie, Everybodyís Welcome and Lady Be Good in which she introduced the song The Last Time I Saw Paris.

She costarred with Kirk Douglas in the classic soaper Letter to Three Wives in 1949, and in 1987 she appeared in The Whales of August with Bette Davis and Lillian Gish, for which she was nominated for a best supporting actress award.

Her television shows ran in the 1950s and 1960s, and she supplied the voice of Jerry Van Dykeís mother in the television show My Mother, the Car.

In May 1999 the Museum of Modern Art in New York City showed a retrospective of her work and Turner Movie Classics will devote the month of July to showing her movies.

A documentary on her life is being made, tentatively called Ann Sothern: The Sharpest Girl in Town, and will be shown at the Sun Valley Film Festival. Appropriately, last year, Sothern was honored for her film work at the inaugural Sun Valley Film Festival.

"We are very grateful that Wanda Petticlerc [the festivalís director] honored her," Sterling said.

Sun Valley was Sothernís spiritual and emotional home for many years. She began visiting the area in the 1940s with other Hollywood celebrities. Though she owned a ski house here in the 1950s, she didnít retire to the valley until 1984. In the 1950s she owned a sewing store next to the original Atkinsonís Market in Ketchum.

"She loved it here, thatís why she lived here. She skied, skated and was a great trap shooter," said granddaughter Heidi Bates Hogan. "She was a wonderful artist-played beautiful piano, and did beautiful needlework."

One of her favorite sayings Hogan and Sterling said, was, "There is no margin for error." It was a saying that suited the strong-willed perfectionist who was always consistent in her likes and dislikes.

She also had a "very great faith" and donated two statuettes to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Ketchum, where she will be memorialized on Friday.

"She was an inspiration," added Sterling. "She was doing it her way."

 

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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.