Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Place of Death
Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
Complications From A Stroke
Claim to Fame
Profile Bio Text
For a tough cookie who achieved cult stardom with her hard-bitten blonde looks and "Perfect Vixen" tag, Ann Savage in real life is a lovely, spirited, gentle-looking lady. She may have peaked briefly in 40s Hollywood lowbudget films, but she made the most of it during that fairly short tenure. Out of the dozens of movies under her belt, one film noir part that came her way in 1945 shot her to femme fatale infamy. It took only four-to-six days to shoot, but Detour (1945) stands out as one of the best examples of surreal film noir and the unforgettable dialogue and riveting teaming of Ann and sulky co-star Tom Neal are the primary reasons for its enduring fame.
An only child, Ann was born Bernice Maxine Lyon in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 19, 1921. Her father was a U.S. Army officer who was stationed from base to base, including Dallas and New Orleans, before settling in Jacksonville, Florida. He died when she was only four years old. Ann`s mother, a jewelry buyer, took the two of them to Los Angeles before Ann reached the age of 10. Appearing in local theater productions, the young hopeful trained at Max Reinhardt`s acting school. The school`s manager happened to be Bert D`Armand, who later became her agent. They subsequently married in 1945.
She changed her name to "Ann Savage" before even stepping onto a soundstage. It was a workshop production of "Golden Boy" that led to a contract at Columbia Pictures. Ann`s actual first appearance was as an extra in MGM`s The Great Waltz (1938). During the war years, she started off in unbilled parts in such movies as The More the Merrier (1943) and Murder in Times Square (1943), but she quickly moved up to featured and co-star status in such lightweight Columbia films as Two Señoritas from Chicago (1943), Footlight Glamour (1943) and Saddles and Sagebrush (1943).
Her devilish dames in The Unwritten Code (1944), Apology for Murder (1945) and The Last Crooked Mile (1946) notwithstanding, it was her black-mailing, cigarette-dangling, good-for-nothing Vera who bullies luckless, tough-guy musician (Tom Neal) into her schemes in Detour (1945) that remains the apex of her `bad girl` career. At the inducement of mogul `Harry Cohn`, Savage and Neal made three other films together before hitting the "Detour" jackpot. These were Klondike Kate (1943), Two-Man Submarine (1944) and The Unwritten Code (1944). The two actors would reunite years later in a 1955 episode of "Gangbusters".
Ann was one of the more popular WWII pinups of her time. After appearing in Esquire magazine in 1944, which was shot by renowned studio photographer George Hurrell Sr., Ann became a favorite with the troops making numerous personal appearance tours at various military bases in order to raise war bonds. Freelancing after leaving Columbia, Ann appeared in a host of other "B" pictures, including One Exciting Night (1944), The Spider (1945), The Dark Horse (1946) and Renegade Girl (1946), Jungle Flight (1947), Satan`s Cradle (1949), Jungle Jim in Pygmy Island (1950), and Woman They Almost Lynched (1953), which became her last film role in over three decades. While she certainly demonstrated the talent and range, she was unable to rise above the "B" label. This led her to look at TV in the 1950s as a possible medium and guest roles on such shows as "Ford Theater", "City Detective", "Schlitz Theater", "Death Valley Days" and "Fireside Theater".
She semi-retired in the late 1950s and moved from Hollywood to Manhattan with husband Bert, who by now had traded his agent business with financing and professional trading. She occasionally appeared on local TV. The couple traveled extensively until his sudden death in 1969. A grief-stricken Ann returned to Hollywood to be near her mother, taught herself law by working as a docket clerk at Bert`s attorneys in LA (Loeb & Loeb), and became an avid speed-rated pilot in her spare hours. At the same time she continued with appearances in "film noir" festivals, nostalgia conventions and special screenings of her work. Refusing to appear in exploitive material, Ann resisted much work. In later years she appeared very sporadically -- in the movie Fire with Fire (1986) and an episode of "Saved by the Bell". Most recently, the resilient octogenarian was cast by Canadian director Guy Maddin to play a shrewish mother in the highly acclaimed film My Winnipeg (2007), earning "bad girl" raves all over again.
Named an "icon and legend" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2005, and applauded for her body of work by Time Magazine twice in 2007, actress Ann Savage has persevered as a dramatic actress through a collective will and determination in a career now surpassing six decades.
Full Name at Birth
Bernice Maxine Lyon
Cigarette-puffing femme fatale in Hollywood cheapies of the 40`s who remains a cult favorite to this day.
Has Detailed Data (New)
Ann Savage (February 19, 1921 – December 25, 2008) was an American film and television actress. She is best-remembered as the cigarette-puffing femme fatale in the critically acclaimed film noir Detour (1945), and starred in more than twenty B movies between 1943 and 1946.
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