Ann Sothern was born on January 22, 1909, in Valley City, North Dakota. Her parents were Mabel Ethel (née Harlow) and Walter Edward Sothern, a bank manager. She had two older sisters, Helena and Sylvia. Sothern began her career as a singer in vaudeville before moving to Hollywood in the 1930s. She made her film debut in the 1932 comedy Short Cut to Heaven.
Sothern’s career took off in 1939 when she was cast as Maisie Ravier in the comedy film Maisie. The film was a huge success and led to a series of sequels. Sothern went on to star in a number of other films throughout the 1940s, including Lady Be Good (1941), Panama Hattie (1942), and A Letter from Bataan (1943).
In 1948, Sothern starred in the sitcom The Ann Sothern Show, which ran for eight seasons. The show was a huge success and made Sothern a household name. She won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series in 1949.
Sothern continued to work in film and television throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Some of her notable roles during this time include the films No Time for Sergeants (1958) and Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960). She also guest-starred on a number of popular television shows, such as The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.
Sothern retired from acting in the early 1970s. She made her final film appearance in the 1974 comedy The Whirlwinds of Jeanette MacDonald. She died of congestive heart failure on March 15, 2001, at the age of 92.
Sothern was married three times. Her first husband was bandleader Roger Pryor; they were married from 1929 to 1931. Her second husband was actor Robert Sterling; they were married from 1942 to 1949. Her third husband was businessman Gerald O’Loughlin; they were married from 1954 until his death in 1985. Sothern had two children: Tisha Sterling, from her marriage to Robert Sterling, and Patricia Ann O’Loughlin, from her marriage to Gerald O’Loughlin.
March 15, 2001, Ketchum, Idaho, United States
Actor, Businessperson, Singer-songwriter
University of Washington
Robert Sterling, Roger Pryor
Annette Yde-Lake, Walter J. Lake
Bonnie Lake, Marion Lake
Golden Globe Award for Television Achievement
Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female, Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress Starring In A Regul...
A Letter to Three Wives, Maisie, The Whales of August, Lady Be Good, Panama Hattie, Gold Rush Maisie, Cry "Havoc", The Blue Gardenia, Maisie Was a Lady, Kid Millions, Nancy Goes to Rio, Brother Orchid, Undercover Maisie, Words and Music, Congo Maisie, Swing Shift Maisie, Ringside Maisie, Lady in a C...
The Chicago Teddy Bears, My Mother the Car, The Ann Sothern Show, Private Secretary
People never think of me as a singer. But singers aren't always good actresses, and, thank goodness, they think of me as an actress.
Listen, I never asked to be in show business. It was my mother's idea.
[about her long-time friend Lucille Ball and her second series, The Ann Sothern Show (1958)] Lucy used to complain that she got all the parts I turned down. Now I produce the show, and she owns the studio. I guess that settles that.
Sometimes I'll watch an old movie on television and, once in a while, one of mine -- such as April Showers (1948) -- will come on and I'll watch it. And you know something? I'm always amazed at what a lousy actress I was. I guess in the old days we just got by on glamour.
Hollywood sold its stars on good looks and personality build-ups. We weren't really actresses in the true sense. We were just big names--the products of a good publicity department. Today's crop of actresses and actors have real talent. Good looks are no longer an essential part of the business.
Good night . . . and stay happy.
Ann Sothern has the distinction of co-starring (with Franchot Tone) in the first American film to play in newly-liberated Copenhagen (May, 1945), following Denmark's five-year German occupation in World War II; the film is 1939's "Fast and furious".
Became a grandmother for the 1st time at age 57 when her daughter Tisha Sterling gave birth to a daughter, Heidi K. Baum, on March 3, 1966.
Gave birth to her only child at age 35, a daughter Patricia Ann Sterling, aka Tisha Sterling, on December 10, 1944. Child's father was her 2nd husband, Robert Sterling.
Among her numerous business interests were a dress shop and gift shop in Idaho, a ranch for breeding Black Angus beef, a music publishing company and a sewing-center shop.
After appearing in Fox's Hotel for Women (1939), she turned down the studio's offer of a long-term contract in favor of signing one with rival MGM. Fox reportedly then cut down Sothern's role in order to favor newcomer Linda Darnell.
Her younger sister was the prolific singer/songwriter Bonnie Lake who wrote several popular standards such as "Sandman", "I've Got Your Number" and "Gracias" - songs later recorded by such big band stars as Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. In the 1940s, Bonnie founded the Bonnie Lake Music Publishing Company.
Her mother was a concert singer who traveled; Ann followed suit studying singing and musical composition. In later years her mother became a diction and vocal coach and taught microphone technique for talking pictures.
In 1953, her film career waned and she decided to give TV a try. When a TV series based on her popular "Maisie" film character failed to materialize, she made her series debut with Suzie McNamara on Private Secretary (1953).
A singer in her early career, she sang with Artie Shaw and His Orchestra, among others. She was also a published songwriter and recorded two albums.
Her paternal grandfather, Simon Lake, was the inventor of the modern submarine.