Remembering Ann Sheridan

Putting the "oomph" back in "The Oomph Girl"

Ann Sheridan
in Hollywood with Louella O. Parsons

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January 1947

Ann Sheridan's advice to the girls who are dieting is to stop, and stop now. She says ever since she's been overseas and lost weight it's almost impossible to put it back on.

"I don't care what anybody says," Ann told me, "no girl looks as well underweight. I should weight 126 and I've been weighing 115. I've put on a few pounds, and I know I look better in 'Unfaithful' that I did in the early scenes of 'Nora Prentiss.' I was too thin in that picture. I started to fill out a little and my clothes were more becoming."

Of course, you couldn't do an interview with the red-headed Sheridan girl, for whom the word "oomph" was coined, without casually remarking"

"Tell me, Ann, are you married to Steve Hannagan?"

"No," said Ann, "I'm bit. I've never been able to corner him." And then that Sheridan laugh. It's always so spontaneous.

"That's what he says about you," I told her.

"Well, I don't mind telling you," said Ann, "I love him, and he loves me, and we've had three very happy years, but we have no plans to marry."

I'm sure that's not because of any parental trouble, because I happen to know that Steve's 88-year-old mother met Annie and really fell for her, like everyone else does, man, woman or child. I've always thought Ann had a quality that was very like that of Carole Lombard, a wholesomeness, a frankness and an absolute lack of affectation. The boys on the lot at Warners' adore her and tell her all their good stories. They all call her Annie and she wouldn't have it any other way.

"What goes with Jack Warner and you?" I asked her, for I had seen a great deal of Annie the time she was suspended by Warners' for over a year because she refused to do a story.

"Oh, we're very happy now," said Ann, "and for the first time in my life, I've liked my last two pictures."

"Do you know," said Ann, "I kill a man in 'Unfaithful.' Isn't that awful?

I had thought that Annie probably intended to always be dramatic. Most of our motion picture actresses are not happy unless they play a heavy.

But Ann says, "I really want to do a comedy now -- but one with a story. But never a musical," and Ann groaned. "I would run a mile if anybody suggested I do another musical. I really despise them."

That's because there was a time when Annie, who was the Lana Turner of the Warner lots, was the delight of the tired business man. There was something so breezy, so young, and so full of pep about her that she was always the girl around who the musical comedy nonsense motivated. Then, too, she was very easy on the optics.

"I've outgrown all that," said Ann. "I'm too old to be an 'oomph' girl any more. I just want to be an actress. You see, in the beginning, it was all right for me to do stories of that talking, but I feel I must have benefited by my experience or I wouldn't still be on the screen after all these years -- so now I want to act."

She and Steve have a wonderful arrangement. When Annie's working, he stays in New York, and as soon as she finishes her movie, she goes to Florida or to New York. Of course, he comes out here to see her often. They couldn't stay away from each other that long.

"But," she told me, "Steve never interferes with my pictures, and it's untrue, as some people say, he tells me what to do. You know yourself I'm a girl who know her own mind and always has."

Yes, I know, because I remember when Ann, who was married to George Brent, decided to leave him. She up and did it so quickly that not even George knew she'd made up her mind that she'd had enough. And before that, the same thing happened with Eddie Norris, Ann has never been a girl who does what they call "play the field." When she's married, she's the most married girl I know. She's what we might call a "one-man woman," and that's not a bad fault -- not a fault at all, I might say.

She and Steve Hannagan are well suited to each other. He's Ann's adult romance. The others belonged to the juvenile part of life.

So I hope it can be arranged that she and Steve can marry. Certainty after three years, they should now each other.

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