Ann Rutherford, who played Vivien Leigh’s youngest sister in Gone with the Wind, and Mickey Rooney’s long-suffering beau in the Andy Hardy series, has died. The Orange County Register radio columnist, Gary Lycan, paid a special tribute to the star in his Introduction of my recent book-release - Son of Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History.
Ann’s screen career began at Republic Pictures studios (then called Mascot Pictures) in low-budget Westerns opposite Gene Autry and John Wayne. After she signed with MGM, Rutherford was a reliable co-star in memorable movies, including Of Human Hearts, A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice, and with Glenn Miller in Orchestra Wives. For five years, she played Polly Benedict a dozen times in the series that made Mickey Rooney a bankable star. Rutherford was also Red Skelton’s gal-pal in a trio of Whistling comedy-mysteries.
As legend has it, Rutherford only got the role of Scarlett O’Hara’s young sibling in Gone with the Wind because Judy Garland was unavailable, due to her schedule on The Wizard of Oz. Despite personal objections, Louis B. Mayer loaned Rutherford to his rival, David O. Selznick. Ann would join Clark Gable, Carole Lombard (his wife), and author Margaret Mitchell at the big premiere of the blockbuster in Atlanta.
After she left MGM, Rutherford replaced Penny Singleton on radio as Blondie; and was cast opposite Danny Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In 1950, she retired from films. One of her final on-camera appearances was in television as Suzanne Pleshette’s mother on The Bob Newhart Show. Rutherford was offered the part of the elderly Rose Calvert in the 1997 version of Titanic, but she turned it down. This choice role was played by actress Gloria Stuart.
In retirement, Rutherford was quite popular at hundreds of Gone with the Wind reunions. And, her second husband was William Dozier, the fellow who created Batman, the television series.
By most accounts, Ann Rutherford was 94.
Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History and Son of Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History shares America's story through the eyes of actors from Hollywood's Golden Age. These poignant tales are available on Amazon... a thoughtful gift for family or friend.
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