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
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."