Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Nov. 27
She played Mickey Rooney's go-to girl, Polly Benedict, in M.G.M.'s durable Andy Hardy series, and appeared as Scarlett O’Hara’s youngest sister in Gone With the Wind.
Ann Rutherford, one of the last surviving cast members of GWTW, has died at her home in Beverly Hills, California. She was 94.
Therese Ann Rutherford was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on November 2, 1917. Her father, John Rutherford, was a New York Metropolitan Opera tenor, and his wife, Lucille Mansfield, a silent-film actress. The family moved to California when she was still in diapers.
Rutherford waited until she was 8 to debut on stage. A decade later found her making the leap to motion pictures by means of a happy accident.
According to the LA Times, Rutherford snagged the starring role in her first picture, "Waterfront Lady," when an actress she resembled dropped out of the 1935 film.
She moved to Republic oaters playing opposite John Wayne and Gene Autry. M.G.M. placed Rutherford under contract and loaned the actress to Selznick International Pictures to appear in GWTW. Rutherford landed the role of Carreen O'Hara because Judy Garland was busy filming The Wizard of Oz.
Rutherford starred in her eleventh (and last) Andy Hardy film, Andy Hardy's Double Life, in 1942. As a freelancer, she appeared in Orchestra Wives, Two O'Clock Courage, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty . She retired from the big screen in 1950 and worked exclusively in television through 1964.
Rutherford made a brief return to Hollywood with a pair of bow-wows: They Only Kill Their Masters (made during the Doberman rage of the early '70's) and Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1977). I met Ms. Rutherford (and Virginia Mayo) in Chicago while they were out promoting the movie.
It was one of the last films I saw in my favorite childhood haunt, the 3,000 seat Granada Theatre. "Won Ton Ton" is a colossal mess, worth seeing only when drunk and desperate to play "spot-the-star."
The two former contract players stood in the magnificent glass and chrome lobby after the picture signing autographs. They were also soliciting audience reaction. No one had the heart to tell them.
James Cameron approached Rutherford to play the older Rose in Titanic, but the actress turned him down.
Actress and close friend Anne Jeffreys tells the Times that Rutherford died Monday night. She had heart problems and was in declining health.
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