Wilmington, Delaware USA
Place of Death
New York City, New York USA
Claim to Fame
First to Introduce The `Black Bottom` Dance
Profile Bio Text
Anna Pennington was born in Wilmington, Delaware on December 23, 1893 and reputedly moved with her family to Camden, New Jersey around 1900 . Her father worked for the Victor music company, they were Quakers, and she had at least one sibling,Nellie.
She began her career on Broadway as a member of the chorus in The Red Widow (1911) starring Raymond Hitchcock. Her debut in the Ziegfeld Follies was in 1913, where she quickly established herself as one Ziegfeld`s top attractions.
With dimpled knees and long dark red hair, the petite, pretty, charming, and often scantly-clad Pennington stood a mere 4` 10" tall and wore only a size 1½ shoe. Because of her diminutive stature, she was referred to as “Penny” by her friends and colleagues. Her nickname for herself was “Tiny”.
During her years in the Ziegfeld Follies she appeared alongside the likes of Bert Williams, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, Fanny Brice (who became her closest friend), Marilyn Miller, and W. C. Fields.She switched back and forth between George White`s "Scandals" and the "Follies" more than once, earning a salary of $1000 per week at one point, and continued to moonlight in the early New York film industry. She also frequented Harlem in its jazz heyday. She was until the late 1920s chaperoned at performances by her mother. She was noted for a quick and witty personality, but was said to be shy off stage and easily embarrassed, and in her latter years was loathe to discuss her early life.
Gershwin was her rehearsal pianist and wrote for her.Ray Henderson,Joe Burke,Edward Ward ( later to write the score to the Claude Raines` "Phantom of the Opera"), and Cole Porter all wrote for her shows, "the New Yorkers" 1931 being her last great show for Porter.She could sing as well as dance, and her recording of "Believe Me" 1930 is engaging and charming. No films of her signature dance routines have been preserved. Her key dances in "Gold Diggers on Broadway" 1929 remain lost. Some of her scenes from "Tanned Legs" are discoverable online, but her role in "The Great Ziegfeld", while still listed in some inventories, was in fact cut before release. Ann Pennington could dance, sing and act, but her first love was dancing on stage, and she never became established as a movie actress.
The New York Times (November 5, 1971) noted:
She liked practical jokes. Once, when a man she didn`t particularly like, telephoned, asking, "Is this Miss Pennington?" she replied, "This ain`t me." Her dressing room door bore a sign, "For Men Only."
Pennington was romantically linked to several men during her lifetime, and at one time or another was engaged to boxer Jack Dempsey, theatrical producer and early dance partnerGeorge White, actor Buster West, and musician Brooke Johns. None of these romances lasted and Pennington never married.She never spoke on record about any of her engagements,whether to confirm or deny them.
Ann Pennington never settled in one place for very long. She lived mostly in hotels in New York apart from some years in California as the constant companion of Fanny Brice, whom she had helped out at least once with loans of stupendous amounts of money. Ann was noted for her generosity and many of her loans were never repaid, however most of her huge earnings were wiped out over the years by betting at the racetrack,decades of hotel bills, and gifts to charities and churches.
After her years on stage and screen ended, Pennington toured in vaudeville. She retired from performing in the 1940s. She last appeared on stage in a benefit show for the armed forces in 1946. She had a committed work ethic, and worked wherever the opportunity arose, although as she aged and tastes changed, she ended her stage days in shabby theaters with low rank dance companies. Film of her "Snakes Hips" dance at the Worlds Fair 1939 survives,but is more memorable for her enthusiasm than her star quality in her fading years.
Ann Pennington died in New York City on November 4, 1971, aged 77. She had lived alone on welfare in New York hotels overlooking 42nd street for the previous 20 years since the death of her best friend Fanny Brice ("Funny Girl"). She is buried in the Valhalla cemetery in New York. No family were known to have attended her funeral, which was paid for by the Actors Benevolent guild.
A few years before her death, she was asked what had been the greatest reward from her years of stardom, and her reply was " in living, honey ".
Couple Profile Source
Full Name at Birth
Fanny Brice (They met performing in Ziegfeld's Follies)
Ann Pennington (December 23, 1893 – November 4, 1971) was an actress, dancer, and singer who starred on Broadway in the 1910s and 1920s, notably in the Ziegfeld Follies and George White's Scandals.
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Actress (20 credits) Soundtrack (4 credits) Self (3 credits) Archive footage (1 credit)
Wiki Bio Text
Biography by Hans J. Wollstein [-]
Famous for her dimpled knees, diminutive Ann Pennington was one of Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld's most charming discoveries whose signature dance, "The Black Bottom," came to epitomize her era. Moonlighting in the movies, Pennington starred as Suzie Snowflake (1916), The Rainbow Princess (1916), and Sunshine Nan (1918), popular if middling entertainment that didn't interfere with her nightly appearances in the Follies or George White's Scandals. In the 1920s, Pennington's screen appearances were mainly specialty turns but she did star as The Mad Dancer (1925), in which she posed in the nude. When sound came in, Pennington was highly visible in early musicals such as Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929), Tanned Legs (1929 -- although the gams in question were June Clyde's not Ann's), and Happy Days (1929). The latter, in which she appeared as herself, was Pennington's final feature film until, inevitably, The Great Ziegfeld (1936). In that epic film-biography of her erstwhile mentor (played with less than historical accuracy by William Powell), she again appeared as herself, but the footage ended up on the cutting-room floor. She played a couple of minor supporting roles on screen in the early 1940s and continued appearing on stage and in vaudeville until the late 1940s.
Cause of Death
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