Remembering Ann Sheridan

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

Ann Sheridan Quotations

I can whistle through my fingers, bulldog a steer, light a fire with two sticks, shoot a pistol with fair accuracy, set type, and teach school . . .

They nicknamed me "The Oomph Girl", and I loathe that nickname! Just being known by a nickname indicates that you're not thought of as a true actress . . . It's just crap! If you call an actress by her looks or a reaction, then that's all she'll ever be thought of as.

He was one of the wild characters of the world, but he had a strange, quiet side. He camouflaged himself completely. In all the years I knew him, I never really knew what lay underneath and I doubt if many people did.
-- referring to Errol Flynn.

I used to go to Grauman's Chinese or Pantages and sit there waiting to see my faceless body on the screen. Texas began to look awfully near and awfully good, and "Clara Lou" had a sweet sound to my ears.

There’s no position, really. It’ll be just one of those things that’s written off, for heaven’s sake. It won’t mean anything.
-- when asked to evaluate her position in film history.

Never laugh at a man when he is serious -- about anything.

Don't forget that all men like to be thought pretty dangerous.

Don't think you can get by on sex appeal alone.

That's the only thing I ever wanted to be. A good actress. But I suppose I can't get away from that Ann Sheridan Oomph thing. I wish I could.

I did some things on loan-out to Universal that were a bit better and were I said something besides "He went that-a-way." Angels with Dirty Faces was the first "A" picture I had on the Warner Brothers lot.

I had to fight for everything at Warners. From the casting director up to Jack Warner. Of course, at Warners everybody seemed to have to fight. Cagney and Davis. That's the only way it was done. A knock-down, drag-out fight. You didn't always win, but it let them know you were alive.

I would never have gotten the role of Randy Monaghan in Kings Row (1941) if I hadn't fought for it, and that was one of the best parts I ever had at the studio. I was very pleased having done that.

Mind you, for every good part I got, they would put me into two turkeys like Navy Blues and Honeymoon for Three. Then there'd be the scripts I turned down -- like Mildred Pierce! That's my fault! Nobody else to blame there.

I'm terribly, terribly emotional about the old days at Warners and Paramount. The crews then and all the people were so wonderful to work with.

There was a certain kind of fantasy, a certain imagination that is not accepted now. The world is too small. Those were glamorous days.
- about her time in Hollywood

Secretly I wanted to be a band singer.  But that meant I thought I was pretty, and vanity was "bad".

Cagney off the screen is exactly like Cagney on it.  It was always 'Hi ya, baby,' or 'How are ya, sweetheart?'  He's a great guy.  He didn't smoke or drink.  He could get drunk on two drinks of liquor.  And he never made the party scene.
- about James Cagney

John Garfield was a dear man.  he was like the little guy who brought the apple for the teacher, and here I was, this hussy with the fuzzy hair and the decolletage dress.  I was supposed to kiss John, but Buz (Berkeley) said, 'Hold it until I say cut.  Just keep kissing him.'  Well, of course, he wouldn't say it, and I had John around the neck and on the floor -- he was absolutely red.
- from a 1966 interview with Ray Hagen

It was the first time I sang in a picture...I went to quite a few voice coaches, gut that was through the studio.  Nobody could teach me to sing.  I haven't got that kind of voice.  It's kind of an odd voice...To make me a singer would be absolutely impossible.  I haven't got the range or anything else, and I know it.  But I went to many voice coaches.
- from a 1966 interview with Ray Hagen about singing "How Could You" in the film San Quentin

It was a very good part, and of course it was Cagney again.  He sold like wildfire.  To be in a picture with him was just the greatest.
-about her City for Conquest character Peggy Nash

I didn't care about playing Lorraine Sheldon.  I used to work, say, one day on Kings Row and the next day on The Man Who Came to Dinner, or one morning I'd work as Lorraine Sheldon and that afternoon I was Randy Monoghan...Well it was horrible!  And more than that, the makeup, hair-do, everything.  Awful thing to have to go through.

She wasn't happy about a lot of things, there's no doubt about that...I think she was conditioned at the time to remain angry at Miriam Hopkins and think that anybody on the set was going to fight her.  I wouldn't fight with her at all.  I agreed with her, with everything she said.  Then she got very nice and today we're very friendly.  She was just -- tempermental?  Who isn't tempermental?  I'm as tempermental as all get-out if I feel I have to be.  Maybe she had a headache, maybe she didn't feel well.  Maybe she wasn't satisfied with her part or her clothes or the way the director was doing a scene -- many things can enter into it.
- in 1966 about Bette Davis

With both men, there was no honesty between us.  And if two people living together can't be honest, then I don't want it.
-to TV Guide about her first two marraiges

(Errol) Flynn was always strictly fun.  Never any trouble.  I adored him.  I never had trouble with any leading mean.  Really, I always got along well with everybody.

I hated it.  I was in New York at the time it was chosen for me, or I was chosen for it, whichever you want to call it.  I went to see the play and notified the studio that there wasn't one single part that I could play with any honesty, and that I didn't think it was a good play.  I figured that unless you could use the dirt of the play, which they certainly couldn't do on the screen with the Johnston Office, it would lose all its color -- which it did.  But oh, there was a big knockdown, drag-out fight over that, threatening me with suspension.  If it hadn't been for Mark (Hellinger), I wouldn't have taken it.
-talking about her participation in The Doughgirls

I adore Jack socially.  He's a lot of fun.
- about Jack Warner who she did not always admire professionally

They always thought of me as The Oomph Girl.  I could never convince them that I could act.
- about her biggest regret while at Warner Brothers

We just never found another good comedy, that's all.  It's a sin and a shame too, because I think we should hae done two or three.
- about Cary Grant

I was tired of fighting and thought it was just about time to call everything off and say oh, to hell with it.  So I consulted the lawyer and he told me to do it if I thought the script was worth it, and I said, 'Oh well, it may never be, I don't know.'  So I accepted it.  Never saw it.  I heard it was an absolute horror.
- about her legal problems with Howard Hughes and being forced to make Appointment in Honduras

It was really an interesting script orginally -- a silly thing about a woman who wants to mary a guy -- she's his secretary and she kills him and then takes on his son, and she takes on the white hunter.  It made sense in the script, but the way they cut it, it made no sense whatsoever.  It's the damnedest thing I've ever seen in my life.  And not even in color, which was horrible, what with the color makeup.  Very black and very white, and all that.
- about the film Woman and the Hunter

There have been three phases of my career -- and the present one, playing comedy and to hell with the oomph, is by far the most satisfying.
- in 1948 while preparing to shoot I Was a Male War Bride

In those days, they held all sorts of beauty contests, just for publicity purposes.  And they're dreadful.  They're horrible on kids, because they break so many hearts.  I think every kid who wins a beauty contest thinks, 'Well, now I've got a chance.'  Well it may be a vague chance, but that's when your hardest work begins.
- to Screen Facts magazine in 1966

Oomph" is what a fat man says when he leans over to tie his shoelace in a telephone booth.

Some people have such interesting things happen to them during the knock-down, drag-out try for a career. Others it just seems to drag along, and mine sounds so boring. If something exciting had happened I could understand, but it was just hard work, that's all.
- Ann a few months before her death looking back on her career.

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