Ann Sheridan was one of the most popular and glamorous actresses of Hollywood’s golden age. She starred in many memorable films, such as Angels with Dirty Faces, Kings Row, and I Was a Male War Bride. She was also known as the Oomph Girl, a nickname that she hated but that reflected her sex appeal and charisma. But how did Ann Sheridan die? What was the cause of her death? And what legacy did she leave behind? In this article, we will explore the life and death of Ann Sheridan, and pay tribute to her remarkable career.
Early Life and Career
Ann Sheridan was born Clara Lou Sheridan on February 21, 1915, in Denton, Texas. She was the youngest of five children of a garage mechanic and a homemaker. She grew up as a tomboy, playing basketball and riding horses. She also had a talent for singing and acting, which she developed at her high school and college.
Her big break came in 1933, when her sister entered her photo in a beauty contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures. She won the contest, which included a screen test and a bit part in a movie. She signed a contract with Paramount, where she changed her name to Ann and appeared in several minor roles. She later moved to Warner Bros., where she got more substantial parts and became known as the Oomph Girl.
Rise to Stardom
At Warner Bros., Ann Sheridan worked with some of the biggest stars and directors of the time, such as Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Howard Hawks, and Raoul Walsh. She proved herself to be a versatile actress, who could handle comedy, drama, romance, and musicals. Some of her most notable films include:
- San Quentin (1937), where she played a singer who falls in love with a prison guard (Pat O’Brien) and helps reform a convict (Humphrey Bogart).
- Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), where she played a childhood friend of two gangsters (James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart) who becomes a social worker.
- They Drive by Night (1940), where she played a waitress who becomes involved with two truck drivers (George Raft and Humphrey Bogart) and murders her husband (Alan Hale).
- City for Conquest (1940), where she played a dancer who loves a boxer (James Cagney) but marries a composer (Arthur Kennedy).
- The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), where she played an actress who seduces a famous critic (Monty Woolley) who is confined to a wheelchair after an accident.
- Kings Row (1942), where she played a woman who suffers from mental illness after being abused by her father (Claude Rains) and loses her lover (Ronald Reagan) to an amputation.
- Nora Prentiss (1947), where she played a nightclub singer who has an affair with a married doctor (Kent Smith) who fakes his death and assumes a new identity.
- I Was a Male War Bride (1949), where she played an army officer who marries a French officer (Cary Grant) and faces various obstacles to bring him to America.
Later Years and Death
In the 1950s, Ann Sheridan’s film career declined, as she faced competition from younger actresses and changing tastes in Hollywood. She also had some personal troubles, such as divorcing her third husband George Brent in 1943, losing her only child Richard to crib death in 1944, and being sued by Warner Bros. for breach of contract in 1948. She tried to revive her career by appearing in stage plays, television shows, and low-budget movies. She also married her fourth husband Scott McKay in 1966.
However, her health deteriorated due to years of smoking and drinking. In 1966, she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which had spread to her liver. She continued to work on her television series Pistols ‘n’ Petticoats until she collapsed on the set. She died on January 21, 1967, at the age of 51, in Los Angeles. She was buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Legacy and Influence
Ann Sheridan was one of the most popular actresses of her time, who earned the respect and admiration of her peers and fans. She was praised for her beauty, talent, personality, and professionalism. She was also known for her generosity, kindness, and humor. She supported various causes, such as the war effort during World War II, animal welfare, and civil rights.
She influenced many other actresses who followed her footsteps, such as Lauren Bacall, Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, and Raquel Welch. She also inspired many artists who paid homage to her in their works, such as Bob Dylan, who mentioned her in his song “Tombstone Blues”, and Andy Warhol, who painted her portrait.
Ann Sheridan was a true star, who left a lasting impression on the screen and in the hearts of many. She was the Oomph Girl, who had more than just oomph. She had talent, charm, and grace. She was Ann Sheridan, and she will always be remembered.