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Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel
     

Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel

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by Christina Rice
 

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Possessing a unique beauty and refined acting skills, Ann Dvorak (1911--1979) found success in Hollywood at a time when many actors were still struggling to adapt to the era of talkies. Seemingly destined for A-list fame, critics touted her as "Hollywood's New Cinderella" after film mogul Howard Hughes cast her as Cesca in the gangster film Scarface (1932).

Overview

Possessing a unique beauty and refined acting skills, Ann Dvorak (1911--1979) found success in Hollywood at a time when many actors were still struggling to adapt to the era of talkies. Seemingly destined for A-list fame, critics touted her as "Hollywood's New Cinderella" after film mogul Howard Hughes cast her as Cesca in the gangster film Scarface (1932). Dvorak's journey to superstardom was derailed when she walked out on her contractual obligations to Warner Bros. for an extended honeymoon. Later, she initiated a legal dispute over her contract, an action that was unprecedented at a time when studios exercised complete control over actors' careers.

As the first full-length biography of an often-overlooked actress, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel explores the life and career of one of the first individuals who dared to challenge the studio system that ruled Tinseltown. The actress reached her pinnacle during the early 1930s, when the film industry was relatively uncensored and free to produce movies with more daring storylines. She played several female leads in films including The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932), Three on a Match (1932), and Heat Lightning (1934), but after her walk-out, Warner Bros retaliated by casting her in less significant roles.

Following the casting conflicts and illness, Dvorak filed a lawsuit against the Warner Bros. studio, setting a precedent for other stars who eventually rebelled against the established Hollywood system. In this insightful memoir, Christina Rice explores the spirited rebellion of a talented actress whose promising career fell victim to the studio empire.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel is more than the biography of an overlooked movie star. Author Christina Rice has meticulously researched the life of Dvorak, whose strong, self-reliant characters made her an important presence in the pre-Code era. Written in a reader-friendly style, Ann Dvorak explores the highs and lows of the actress who dazzled viewers in the classics Ann Dvorak and Ann Dvorak." — Susan Doll, author of Florida on Film: The Essential Guide to Sunshine State Cinema

Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel is a treasure trove of information about this under-mentioned star. The wealth of information is stunning and the writing is full of passion and warmth. Without doubt nobody but Rice could have ever written this book. This book is a fabulous tribute to someone who deserves to be remembered.Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Confidential

"Ann Dvorak has always been an enigmatic figure, whether you're looking at her electric vitality in the 1932 Scarface or her feline grace in 1947's The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. Fifteen years separate these unique performances, and there's no one like Ann Dvorak, yet the story of her career remains untold. In Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel, Christina Rice corrects this oversight. We learn about the ambitious young dancer, how her unusual looks and singular intensity pulled her into acting, and how her path to stardom ended in regretful obscurity. This is a compelling story, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes sad, but Christina Rice tells it honestly and objectively. Her dedicated research makes it possible to see both Ann Dvorak and her milieu with clarity. Ann Dvorak l is a sensitive biography of a real talent." — Mark A. Vieira, author of George Hurrell's Hollywood

"A scrupulously researched, consistently insightful and thoroughly welcome biography. Fans and students of Hollywood's fascinating pre-Code era will particularly appreciate a chance to learn more about one of its most sophisticated, intelligent, and hauntingly beautiful actresses." — Margaret Talbot, author of The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father's Twentieth Century

"Recommended movie star reading... Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel by Christina Rice. Ann Dvorak looked to be on the road to stardom at Warner Bros, but she chafed too often at restrictions placed upon her. Yet who besides the most devoted film fanatic knows of Miss Dvorak? Fascinating read on a fascinating actress." — Liz Smith, New York Social Diary

"Ann Dvorak may be the biggest Hollywood star you've never heard of. By 19 years old, she had established herself with a leading role in the 1932 classic "Scarface." But, on the verge of going supernova, the young star seemingly gave it all up for love. Now, after 15 years of research, librarian Christina Rice's long-anticipated biography, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel, has reignited interest in the star's story." — Nathan Masters, KCET

"Dvorak's story is the intriguing examination of a facet of Hollywood little reported on. Rice captures the loneliness and pain of losing stardom, and just being lonely within old age. It's biographies like these, and authors like Rice, who keep the memory of these forgotten stars burning bright. Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel is part Hollywood biography and paean to a star who may not have always known what she wanted, but was well aware of what she didn't want. Worth seeking out!" — Journeys in Classic Film

" Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel by Christina Rice explores the life and career of one of the first actors who dared to challenge the studio system that ruled Tinseltown, and who found success when many were struggling to adapt to the era of talkies." — Publishers Weekly

"Now, thanks to Rice's epic effort to research and reconstruct her life, Dvorak will be much more than just a ghost of Old Hollywood." — LA Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813144399
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
10/17/2013
Series:
Screen Classics
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,270,484
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Christina Rice is a librarian and photo archivist at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. (www.anndvorak.com)

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Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christina Rice's well written and lavishly illustrated biography has done a service for all of us who have only discovered Ann Dvorak's work thanks to the reemergence of many pre-code films in the last two decades. Such films as SCARFACE, THE LOVES OF MOLLY LOUVAIN, and THREE ON A MATCH are quintessential early Dvorak, yet the films that first alerted me to this exceptional actress were not early talkies but were two of her last movies when she played a supporting part with only a few scenes. As a working class woman who had given up her baby for adoption 18 years before, she was unforgettable in  OUR VERY OWN (1950), even though I didn't know her name at the time. Some time later, viewing how Dvorak literally stole the George Cukor film, A LIFE OF HER OWN (1950)--even though her role as a model on the way down the ladder of success did not last much past the first quarter of an hour--made me a confirmed fan of the actress who radiated a lifetime of restlessness and vulnerability as well as yearning and anger in her brief appearance. After her discovery by Howard Hawks and her contract at Warner Bros. in the early '30s, stardom seemed to be in the offing. As the author points out, unlike MGM, Warners was a studio that was in the business of "making movies, not movie stars." As  Rice describes her journey, Ann Dvorak's private life and her ambivalent feelings about being a contract player led to many lost opportunities. Without sentimentalizing her subject, the biographer brings out how the actress with the beautifully expressive blue eyes, striking voice, lithe form and natural sensuality might have become a star. The same qualities that make this actress so appealing-her air of curiosity, humor, intelligence, and vulnerability, also helped to lead this talented figure to pursue a different, and more unconventional life, beginning with her attempt to break her contract with her studio (Dvorak was among the many Warner contractees who attempted to rebel against the studio, leading eventually to the landmark Olivia de Havilland case in 1944, which prevented studios from tacking on suspension time to the end of an employee's contract). Thanks to the nuanced portrait that Rice paints with her lambent prose and detailed research into her subject, the radiant Ann Dvorak, whose atypical life was replete with contradictions and interesting detours, comes vividly off the page.