Classic film fans have by now heard the sad news of Ann Rutherford's passing on June 11 at age 94 (91 at IMDb).
Rutherford is being chiefly remembered as one of the final surviving members of the celebrated cast of Gone With the Wind. Most of the major obituaries are also giving additional mention to her twelve film run as Andy Hardy's girlfriend, Polly Benedict, in the hugely successful Hardy Family series of films. Other film credits are mostly listed without additional comment.
Further down this page I've linked to a handful of Ann Rutherford obituaries posted to other blogs and websites that I frequent. A couple of them especially touched upon my own favorite Ann Rutherford screen memories.
One of my favorites is Laura's Miscellaneous Musings repost of her 2010 Ann Rutherford birthday tribute (found just under her reportage of Rutherford's death). Laura mentions the unusual casting of Rutherford as the Ghost of Christmas Past in the 1938 MGM version of A Christmas Carol, a part usually "played by a large, hearty man," as she puts it.
The world may choose to remember Rutherford via Gone With the Wind, and my own memory probably plays back images of her Polly Benedict more often than not, but it is platinum blonde Ann Rutherford guiding Scrooge through the skies that I recall best of all because I see it again every year like clockwork. At least twice.
While other Scrooges sail around with that more typical type that Laura mentions, a big guy that usually looks like a traditional imagining of Santa Claus, Reginald Owen's Scrooge gets the hot blonde!
Another Ann Rutherford piece I particularly enjoyed reading was Terrence Towles Canote's obituary at A Shroud of Thoughts.
At the conclusion of the more typical biographical remembrances Terrence chooses to include his personal memories of Rutherford. He gave me a chuckle when he wonders why Polly stuck it out with Andy Hardy all of those years. Andy gets himself distracted by the likes of Lana Turner and, in one of my favorites, Esther Williams, and overlooks his hometown beauty time after time.
Ann Rutherford, at left above, shares Mickey Rooney with Kathryn Grayson in Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941). See more vintage Ann Rutherford images on cards, ephemera and photos towards the bottom of the Immortal Ephemera Ann Rutherford Site Index Page HERE.
I always found it a shame that when Andy Hardy Comes Home (1958), the series' final entry, it is without Rutherford's Polly as Mrs. Hardy. I don't know the story behind the making of that final Hardy movie, released a dozen years after the previous entry and 16 years after Ann Rutherford's final go as Polly, but I'd imagine the opportunity for Polly's return would have been there had Miss Rutherford wanted it.
Turner Classic Movies has revised their schedule for July 3 to feature ten films that Ann Rutherford appeared in including the big one, Gone With the Wind (1939), capping the day at 8 pm.
TCM also airs one Andy Hardy film, one of the Red Skelton Whistling films that Rutherford appeared in, the 1940 adaptation of literary classic Pride and Prejudice, and six additional movies with Ann Rutherford. The complete schedule follows.
Ann Rutherford TCM Tribute, July 3
The following is a complete schedule of TCM’s July 3 memorial tribute to Ann Rutherford (all times Eastern):
- 6 a.m. – Of Human Hearts (1938), with Walter Huston and James Stewart; directed by Clarence Brown
- 7:45 a.m. – Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland; directed by George B. Seitz
- 9:30 a.m. – Four Girls in White (1939), with Florence Rice and Una Merkel; directed by S. Sylvan Simon
- 10:45 a.m. – Pride and Prejudice (1940), with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier; directed by Robert Z. Leonard
- 12:45 p.m. – Washington Melodrama (1941), with Frank Morgan and Kent Taylor; directed by S. Sylvan Simon
- 2:15 p.m. – This Time for Keeps (1942), with Robert Serling and Guy Kibee; directed by Charles Reisner
- 3:30 p.m. – Whistling In Dixie (1942), with Red Skelton and George Bancroft; directed by S. Sylvan Simon
- 4:45 p.m. – Two O'Clock Courage (1945), with Tom Conway and Richard Lane; directed by Anthony Mann
- 6 p.m. – Adventures of Don Juan (1948), with Errol Flynn and Robert Douglas; directed by Vincent Sherman
- 8 p.m. – Gone with the Wind (1939), with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh; directed by Victor Fleming
Schedule reprinted from the Turner Newsroom.
TCM updated their Ann Rutherford News Story, but the schedule remains the same as above. Apparently Gone With the Wind had been previously set to air to kick off Leslie Howard's turn as Star of the Month.
Ann Rutherford Remembered Elsewhere
- I missed a good one when I first posted! Brandie at True Classics remembers Ann Rutherford HERE.
- At Laura's Miscellaneous Musings, Laura not only remembers Rutherford at her passing but reports an earlier tribute to Rutherford's career from one of her most recent birthdays.
- Terrence Towles Canote remembers Ann Rutherford's life and career at A Shroud of Thoughts.
- National Classic Movies Examiner Jennifer Garlen on Rutherford's passing at The Cinementals.
- Andre Soares takes a detailed look back at Ann Rutherford's career at Alt Film Guide.
- Ivan of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear remembers Rutherford in a slightly different light at Radio Spirits.
National Print Media
- Robert Berkvist at The New York Times, Ann Rutherford, Studio Film Sweetheart, Dies at 94.
- Valerie Nelson and Claire Noland at the Los Angeles Times, Ann Rutherford, actress in 'Gone With the Wind,' dies at 94.
- Adam Bernstein at The Washington Post, Ann Rutherford, actress in 'Gone With the Wind' and Andy Hardy series, dies at 94.