Remembering Ann Sheridan

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

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What It's Like Dating Ann

One of Ann Sheridan's new steady beaux admits that he never knows what will happen next when out with Ann.

by Jacque Mapes

Ann Sheridan"Lucky Guy" -- everyone tells me these days. And certainly no one is more appreciative for being the extremely fortunate fellow who is "pals" with Ann Sheridan. For two years now I've known Annie, as we call her, and I've been taking her to parties and places. Recently, when she was "maid of honor" and I was "head usher" at a wedding, some of the press mistook us and thought we were the bride and groom. I should be so fortunate! And, as I write this article, I've just confirmed my date with Ann for a table for two tonight at Ciro's! Lucky me!!!

I first met Ann on the set of "Good Sam," the Leo McCarey picture. I am a set decorator, and I was arranging the house that Ann and Gary Cooper used in the picture. I recall it was a modest two-bedroom bungalow. I had to get a nice wifely looking picture of Ann to put in Mr. Cooper's bedroom. I went over to her and introducing myself, asked her for a picture suitable for framing.

"Do you want a one-piece or two-piece bathing suit photo?" she replied without blinking an eyelash.

I showed my surprise. Certainly she knew the script.

"I think, Miss Sheridan, something more simple--" I began to explain. And then I looked at Ann and she began to laugh.

"Why not come out to my house tonight and select a picture?" she invited. "I have a whole closet full of them."

The funny part is that I didn't take her invitation literally--so I had no thought of going out to Miss Sheridan's house. I thought she was just kidding. But the next morning on the set she yelled across to me, "Hey, Mr. Mapes! I sat at home two hours in my closet waiting for you to come and get that picture. Wot hoppened?" (spelled wrong in original article)

Several nights later after we had become acquainted during the making of the picture, Ann invited me out to her house. This time I was there promptly on the appointed hour.  Ann likes to hold informal open houseAnn Sheridan evenings. There was a delicious buffet dinner, followed with the running of a movie. "My Man Godfrey," starring Carole Lombard. Ann had great admiration for Carole.

"I was only a stock girl at Paramount where she was a big star," Ann recalled. "But she would always stop and speak to me on the lot -- as though I were important, too."

Ann was wearing a simple blue cotton dress, but she made it look like a Hattie Carnegie creation. She has that flare in anything she wears. She is equally at home in slacks, her favorite informal apparel, or an exciting evening dress.

The keynote of Ann's home is comfort. I was surprised that there was not a single painting or portrait or even so much as a snapshot of her anywhere in the house -- just a few scenic landscapes. This readily revealed her complete lack of ego -- for most stars have their portraits and pictures in every room in the house.

Notwithstanding the excitement of squiring Ann Sheridan to Mocambo or Ciro's, and therefore certainly becoming the most envied man in town, I find Ann's sense of humor, alone, one of her most remarkable qualities. That, and her complete honest sincerity about people and everything she does.

I have never seen Ann more radiant than she looked in a pearl gray faille suite to be maid-of-honor at her secretary's daughter's wedding. It might have been just a little girl across the street having a wedding, but Ann glamourized it was a memorable occasion by inviting the Zachary Scotts and several movie names. A newspaper photographer was permitted to take pictures for the seven local papers. He had everyone posting before the reception, and then just as he snapped the last picture, his face suddenly turned white, a chalky sickly white. "I forgot to pull the shutter," he explained. "I have no pictures."

"Well," Ann said, "that's Sheridan time! Come on, you!" She began helping him line up the people again for the pictures, as though it were nothing at all. And everyone, instead of being disgusted, played along with Annie's sense of humor.

Ann SheridanAfter the reception we drove into Hollywood, where Mickey Finn was holding a benefit party for his Boys' Foundation. Mickey is a twenty-eight-year-old Los Angeles policeman who has a regular Father Flanagan spirit for boys with prison and police records. He has some 300 boys enrolled, and the meet once a week down at the city jail where they get together to talk over their problems. Ann goes down to see them, too, so they know that they have people interested in their welfare. In fact, she donated the food for the boys to take a vacation up in the High Sierras.

On this night, Ann auctioned off her blue satin garter for $100 for the Boys' Foundation. We danced and listened to music, and then we drove home under the full moon with the wind running through Sheridan's short bob. Nothing worries her, least of all wind-blown hair. That's another thing about Ann-- she doesn't fuss, and she can get dressed in a flat twenty minutes to go out on a date. She doesn't keep a fellow hanging around -- biting his nails for hours.

Back at her house, we went in to waken, Martha, her secretary, and chat about the wedding.

Ann casually kicked off her high heeled slippers and settled comfortably in a big chair. She liked comfort. We settled down for a real talk about marriage -- the serious side of it.  From what Ann said I gathered that although she is a girl who likes home ties and a home life she will be very cautious before taking any steps -- even when the right man comes along. She is still very fond of Steve Hannagan, who was so devoted to her for the past five years -- and while Ann didn't say it -- I could discern that theirs was more a great friendship than a romance.

Ann's letters kept me regularly posted on her activities during her stay in Germany filming "I Was A Male War Bride," and life in the big castle at Heidelberg, where the troupe was stationed.

"Life is something with umpteen servants," she wrote. Next, she asked her red flannels -- "It's is so cold!" Every weekend it rained -- and the first day that was clear Ann decided to take a long ride. "The car brokeAnn Sheridan down and the butler was fit to be tied when I came back. He had a date with his girl and wanted none of Sheridan. We poor movie stars."

Ann's funniest story of that picture is her great love scene with Cary Grant. It was filmed in German. Then Cary became very ill, and when the next scene was shown, filmed in Hollywood, there was 20 pounds less of him. "He visibly melted right in my arms!" she laughs, and so did the preview audiences.

Ann loves rumba rhythm, and has a wonderful way of humming the melody in your ear when you dance. She also likes Spanish or Chinese food, although she eats very little. She likes a steak when she's hungry, and never touches desserts. She often laughingly recalls that when she first started in pictures she was trying to lose weight, now she tried to gain. She lost weight when she flew to the South Pacific during the War, and has never been able to regain it.

Ann is not shrewd about business. She's too big-hearted. Mention anything in her presence and you'll find it waiting for you at home. I happened to observe some ties when we were shopping, and there were twelve of them delivered the next day, from Ann. I take great pride in the gold St. Genesis locket and masque cuff links she gave me for my birthday. Realizing this weakness to hang on to money, Ann, when she was making only $250 a week, acquired herself a business agent, Andy Hickox. He place Ann on a strict budget. When Ann buys her friends gifts, it comes right out of her own pocket-spending money. This means that any generosity on her part means doing without herself.

You never know what happens next with Annie. I was working on "The Great Dan Patch" out at the RKO ranch when I received a call that a beautiful girl had come out to visit me. Would I Ann Sheridanstep outside when time permitted?  There was Ann on her motorcycle. She rides all over the valley.

"Hop on," she invited. We went for a ride about the lot, and since it had been raining the day before, we hit a puddle. Result: two mud-bespattered people.

"Wouldn't' you know," Ann said, "I've taken Grant and it never happened -but Sheridan -!"

Note: Unfortunately, that's all I have of this article.  (I'm assuming it doesn't end on this rather sudden note.)

Producer/set decorator Jacque Mapes (1913 - 2002) was the longtime partner of producer Ross Martin (1920 - 1996).

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