Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Born Today July 28: Ann Doran


Prolific actress Ann Doran was born on this day in Amarillo, Texas. A child actress who aged into a very successful character actor, she made her debut at age four (sources that cite 11 are dating her career from her earliest film appearance that we know of). There is a mystery here.  She herself said that she appeared in a number of silent films under different names (I think reports of "hundreds" are probably grossly exergerated), yet the only credit that we have of her childhood work in silent film dates from 1922 in Wallace Beery's Robin Hood. According to the credits that have come down to us, her first role in a talking picture (and, also, her next film appearance) came in a very small part in Universal's One Exciting Adventure in 1934, a remake of a German comedy released the year before.  She then spent the next ten years or so in small or even uncredited roles.  When she came under contract with Columbia, she ironically wound up working with famous comic players from the silent era in short comedies in the new era of sound; players like Harry Langdon, Roscoe Karns, Andy Clyde and  Charly Chase (and Andy Clyde directed by Charly Chase). In the 1940's, despite her younger age, she started to get a bit type cast as "the mother" or matronly types in roles with "Mrs." in their names. In a late set of serial films, she played Ethel Mitchell--the mother--to Danny Mitchell, played by a young Ted Donaldson, the serial ran for 6 films (the "Rusty" in question was a canine character played by a cute pooch named Flame).  Doran made her television debut in 1950 the The Hurricane at Pilgrim Hill episode of The Magnavox Theater in which she played "Katie/Johnny's Mother." By far her most famous "mother role," or film role for that matter, came in the role of Mrs. Carol Stark, the mother of Jim Stark (James Dean) in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). By this time, she was making quite a name in supporting and guest roles on various television series. She also made appearances in a couple film in the popular atomic horror genre of the times, including Them! (1954) and It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958). In 1962, she got a recurring role on National Velvet and she had a recurring role on the crime series Longstreet.  Although she had hundreds of actors roles later in life--most of them in television--she only had one other major series television recurring role, that of Charlotte McHenry on the short lived series Shirley, a show created for Shirley Jones she had also been cast in The Legend of Jesses James in 1965, but the show only ran for one season_. She, was though, such a great supporting actor--a real actor's actor--that she was a frequent guest star on many series in different roles. Some of the MANY shows on which she appeared are (in no particular order): Ironside, The Virginian, Leave It To Beaver, Perry Mason, The Streets of San Francisco and Highway To Heaven (and there were a lot of "Mrs." roles among them). In fact, her last role came on a guest appearance on the crime drama Hunter in the episode Dead on Target: Part 1 which aired on the 12 of November in 1988. She then retired from what was a VERY long acting career. She passed away on the 19th of September in Carmichael, California. She was 89 years old.  Upon her request, she was cremated and scattered at sea.  Doran was the daughter of actress Rose Allen, whose real name was Carrie Alma Barnett Doran. She strictly used a performance name due to strong objections of her husband's family--the same applied to her daughter until adulthood. Allen was likewise said to have been at least dozens of silent films in small parts; so this may go some way toward explaining why a mystery persists surrounding exactly how many silent films Doran appeared in.


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