Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California on February 10, 1935 · Page 55
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Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California · Page 55

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Oakland, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, February 10, 1935
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Page 55
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S CE EN RADIO WEEKLY one rong HE loves to Suffer; Lord. Her W Without a coubt, -she is the loveliest and most chaiming lady of the cinema. She's a woman's woman: Has -more feminine fans than any other actress on the- screen." And how the men go for her! f Scarcely a day passes without a proposal in her fan maiL " - She is a pre-eminent comedienne and, liket all people born to make others happy, she prefers the roles of suffering, abused women who, with uplifted chins, battle the world and emerge triumphant. In the face of an -unbelievable number of bad pictures, 'she has survived. Less vital figures 'would have passed from view long agov - - She has but why go on? It wquld be possible to sit for hours and discuss the perversity of Ann Harding. . She is the most independent and contrary person in Hollywood. Any appraisal of her would list, along with her charm, a number of qualities that an unfriendly person might group under the general heading of Plain Orneriness. If any writer could meet Ann Harding and not love her, , he could -write a first sat yarn on "The Strange Case of Dorothy Gatley." But Ann Harding, born .Dorothy Gatley, is protected by impenetrable armor. When you meet her, you ! arepTicked. vYou immediateiyfall in love with her and, that ends you as a critic. She has managed her 1 own publicity and the. result has" been jibysmal mismanagement. Yet she retains her popularity, i She has been largely responsible for, the selection of the stories in which she has appeared, yet, as an individual, she has kept her public. On the screen she has uttered that fatal line "I'm going to have a baby" more often than any of the: better stars, and yet she is still the toast of the, respectable, high-minded dub women of America although the line is invariably spoken when the character she is enacting is unhappily iout of wedlock. She continues in her ' contrary way and gives no indication of changing and she will probably remain on the screen as long as she desires. She has a passion for writing and writers. This latter has caused many rumors since her divorce from Harry Bannister. There is no doubt in my mind but that her interest in any . author with whose name she has been linked is an academic interest, inspired by a fascination for writing' and respect for success in the craft. When ; she finally decides to quit the screen and she threatens! it all the time I imagine she will retire to her million-dollar garret, knock some plaster-off the wall so that it will be reminiscent of Greenwich Village, and unburden her soul to her typewriter. w HEN Ann rained the Provincetown Players, she was se- ici-iew py jasper ueeter, the director, who was another significant influence ini her jlife. From the moment he saw her he ; had faith in her. Her career .from that day to this has been watched over by him. i Even now, as a great cinema star, she has gone to his little Hedgerow Theater outside Philadelphia to play a week or so under his direction. It 'was Jasper Deeter who advised all her early appearances. It was "Jap" who ordered her to leave Broadway and go intq :stock. It was by his counsel that she joined the JessieBonstelle Company in Detroit, whereshe met Harry Bannister, whom shelater married. She followed Katharine Cornell in Detroit and then j waSSssociated with her in New York plays. : . PIaKfollowed play and success succeeded; success. She attained national prominence in "The Trial of Mary Du-gan." She left this show with the impending birth of Pier daughter Jane. Mr. Bannister was appearing in "Strange Interlude" in New York and learned that the company was to be taken on the road, the tour ending in Los Angeles. So he suggested that Ann precede him, since his company was to make week stops m various cities. With a nurse and her tiny daughter she came to Pasadena, where she took a small house, r The screen had just begun to be garrulous and Hollywood, in fhe days of golden 'silence,' had taken small note of Broadway and its personalities. The fact that Ann Harding, star of "The Trial of Mary Dugan,' was in Pasadena was not known to the producers, and if it had been they wouldn't have cared. But suddenly sound burst, upon the cinema and they had to have actresses who could talk and who wouldn't say "erl for "oil" nor "oily" for "early." OO WITH this consciousness; of culture a wild search began. Studios understood that Mr. Bannister was bringing his wife with him. They understoodtoo, that she had done some things ori Broadway 1 just what thejj, didn't know and cared less. She had been on the stage and, therefore, must be able to talk. If this old memory serves aright, Pathe was the first to find her and she was cast in "Paris Bound." y Perhaps it is the public that is the paradox, not Ann Harding. As I have said, to that vast mul'ptude of respectable people who go tg. the theater, Ann is the personification of all that is' finer and splendid. Her divorce proved that. There was no scandal connected with the event and yet her studio was deluged with mail protesting against such a loose act. Ann, said the letters, was not the kind of a girl to get a divorce. Yet, in spite of the disapproval of those millions who resented her divorce, she has remained popular. Look at the roles she enacts. Every one of themor nearly every one portrays her as a bit of a social outcast. "Animal Kingdom": She Vas the mistress of Leslie Howard and she Sacrificed All Because of a Great Love. . "Gallant Lady": Her actions spoke the line "I'm going to have a baby." ' She did, but later True Love triumphed over Deceit and Envy. J "When Ladies Meet": The abused wife of a philandering gentleman. "Life of Vergie Winters": Again an unwed mother who Paidf and Paid and Paid. " . : j "Double Harness": She ensnared a man lin'to marrying her after a rather unconventional relationship. 1 Ann Harding's screen life is one tribulation after another. Rarely do her roles allow her the sanction of society. But she loves to surfer, and huge audiences continue to glory in her anguish. "Right to Romance": She was Pure but Abused. rERHAPS the public gets a vicarious thrill out of her sins. Women, we men think, love to suffer and imagine themselves abused. Perhaps this great audience sees itself in Ann. Perhaps the . girls see .Jn the things that happen to Ann the things that almost happen to them. I wouldn't know. In Miss Harding's contract is a clause allowing her the selection of her stories. So for whatever she is in, she alone can be blamed. 1 There Is no sense in discussing . Ann Harding as an artist.- That has never been questioned. For my money she is one of the finest on the screen. But the public doesn't know much about her as a business woman. She's the -' smartest in town. ." Her ability as a money maker is best summed up by a reqent incident. Ann's favorite car is a sixteen-cylinder roadster j which can and does pass everything on the road. She is a splendid driver, and once on the highway, it takes a good motor cop to catch her. She was driving up the Malibu, evidently in a hurry. Suddenly she heard the shriek of a siren as an officer pulled alongside, his face streaming with sweat from the strain of following her as she shot around and between other cars. The copper was mad very, very mad. It could be seen in bis strut as he walked toward her car. "Say, what do you use that head on your shoulders for, anyway?" he demanded. "To make a hundred thousand, dollars a year. What do you use yours for?" she is reputed to have replied. " She didn't tell it all. The $100,000 was a modest figure. I suppose that she gets between $3,000 and $4,000 a week for the greater share of the year. Ann lives alone in a mansion atop the Hollywood hills. She lives simply. Her staff of servants is extremely small. She doesn't like personal' maids, wants to do things herself. Music is a mania with her She frequents the symphonies and the Hollywood Bowl in the summer and has a standing order at the music store for all phonograph records of a certain type. She hates the radio and turns it on only when a symphonic program or luuig . i uo wilij music interests Dcr. Foolishly, she hates publicity. ' She hadn't had a magazine interview for more than a year after her divorce, finally she permitted a girl, quite a close friend, to write a story about her, but she had to read it and approve it before it was submitted for publication. She has several friends among the press whom she trusts because they have never violated their friendship, but should they quote her, they would be barred, j It is difficult to imagine a person with the charm and the open, candid manner of Ann Harding being a mystery. Yet she strives to make herself one. You are tempted to tell her to take off those false whiskers, but you don't because if yon know her at all, you love her. I And what are whiskers when yoa are in love? . I I

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