Clara Lou "Ann" Sheridan was an American actress and singer. She worked regularly from 1934 to her death in 1967, first in film and later in television. Notable roles include Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Kings Row (1942), Nora Prentiss (1947) and I Was a Male War Bride (1949).
Born in Denton, Texas on February 21, 1915, Sheridan was the daughter of G. W. Sheridan and Lula Stewart Warren Sheridan. She said that her father was a great-great-nephew of Civil War Union general Philip Sheridan. She had a sister, Pauline. She was active in dramatics at Denison High School and at North Texas State Teachers College. She also sang with the college's stage band.
In 1933, she was a student at North Texas State Teachers College when her sister sent a photograph of her to Paramount Pictures. She subsequently entered and won a beauty contest, with part of her prize being a bit part in a Paramount film, The Search for Beauty. She left college to pursue a career in Hollywood.
After making her film début in 1934, aged 19, in Search for Beauty, she played uncredited bit parts in Paramount films for the next two years. Paramount made little effort to develop Sheridan's talent, so she left, signing a contract with Warner Bros. in 1936, and changing her name to Ann Sheridan. (An Associated Press news story on September 27, 1934, reported that she "had her name bobbed and her career lengthened simultaneously," with her new screen name being Lou Sheridan. Following that, a December 2, 1934, story in The Sandusky Register referred to Ann Sheridan "who is still under contract to Paramount." A December 25, 1934, news story in The Emporia Gazette said, "Born Clara Lou Sheridan, she was 'changed' by studio bosses to plain Lou Sheridan, but ere long they had decided on Ann.")
Sheridan's career prospects began to improve. She received as many as 250 marriage proposals from fans in a single week. Tagged "The Oomph Girl" a sobriquet which she reportedly loathed Sheridan was a popular pin-up girl in the early 1940s. (On the other hand, a February 25, 1940, news story distributed by the Associated Press reported that Sheridan no longer "bemoaned the 'oomph' tag." She continued, "But I'm sorry now. I know if it hadn't been for 'oomph' I'd probably still be in the chorus.")
She was the heroine of a novel, Ann Sheridan and the Sign of the Sphinx, written by Kathryn Heisenfelt, published by Whitman Publishing Company in 1943. While the heroine of the story was identified as a famous actress, the stories were entirely fictitious. The story was probably written for a young teenage audience and is reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. It is part of a series known as "Whitman Authorized Editions", 16 books published between 1941 and 1947 that always featured a film actress as heroine.
She received substantial roles and positive reaction from critics and moviegoers in such films as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), opposite James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, Dodge City (1939) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, Torrid Zone with Cagney and They Drive by Night with George Raft and Bogart (both 1940), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) with Bette Davis, and Kings Row (1942), in which she received top billing playing opposite Ronald Reagan, Robert Cummings, and Betty Field.
She also appeared in such musicals as It All Came True (1940) and Navy Blues (1941). She was also memorable in two of her biggest hits, Nora Prentiss and The Unfaithful, both in 1947.
Despite these successes, her career began to decline. Her role in I Was a Male War Bride (1949), directed by Howard Hawks and co-starring Cary Grant, gave her another success, but by the 1950s she was struggling to find work and her film roles were sporadic. In 1950, she appeared on the ABC musical television series Stop the Music. In 1962, she played the lead in "The Mavis Grant Story" on the Western series Wagon Train. In the middle 1960s, Sheridan appeared on the NBC soap opera Another World. Her final work was a TV series of her own in the mid-1960s, a comedy Western entitled Pistols 'n' Petticoats, which was filmed during the year before her death, and was broadcast on CBS on Saturday nights. The 19th episode of the series, "Beware the Hangman", aired, as scheduled, on the same day that she died. For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Ann Sheridan has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 7024 Hollywood Boulevard.
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Sheridan married actor Edward Norris August 16, 1936, in Ensenada, Mexico. They separated a year later and divorced in 1939.
On January 5, 1942, she married fellow Warner Brothers star George Brent, who co-starred with her in Honeymoon for Three (1941). They divorced exactly one year later.
Following her divorce from George Brent, she had a long term relationship with Steve Hannagan, the super publicist, that lasted until his death in 1953. Hannagan’s estate bequeathed Ms. Sheridan $218,399 ($2,000,000 in current dollars) .
On June 5, 1966 she married actor Scott McKay, who was with her when she died.