Ann Harding

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Ann Harding
Ann Harding 1930.jpg
Ann Harding, 1930
BornDorothy Walton Gatley
(1902-08-07)August 7, 1902
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
DiedSeptember 1, 1981(1981-09-01) (aged 79)
Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1921–1965
Spouse(s)Harry Bannister (1926–1932) 1 child
Werner Janssen (1937–1962) 1 child
ChildrenJane Bannister (1928-2005)
Grace Kaye Janssen
Jump to: navigation, search
Ann Harding
Ann Harding 1930.jpg
Ann Harding, 1930
BornDorothy Walton Gatley
(1902-08-07)August 7, 1902
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
DiedSeptember 1, 1981(1981-09-01) (aged 79)
Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1921–1965
Spouse(s)Harry Bannister (1926–1932) 1 child
Werner Janssen (1937–1962) 1 child
ChildrenJane Bannister (1928-2005)
Grace Kaye Janssen

Ann Harding (August 7, 1902 – September 1, 1981) was an American theatre, motion picture, radio, and television actress.

Early years[edit]

Born Dorothy Walton Gatley at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, to George G. Gatley and Elizabeth "Bessie" Crabb. The daughter of a career army officer, she traveled often during her early life. Her father was born in Maine and served in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. He died in San Francisco, California in 1931. She grew up in East Orange, New Jersey and graduated from East Orange High School.[1] Harding attended Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA, on the Pennsylvania Main Line outside Philadelphia.


Following school, she found employment as a script reader. She began acting and made her Broadway debut in 1921. She soon became a leading lady, who kept in shape by using the services of Sylvia of Hollywood.[2] She was a prominent actress in Pittsburgh theatre for a time, performing with the Sharp Company and later starting the Nixon Players with Harry Bannister.[3] In 1929, she made her film debut in Paris Bound, opposite Fredric March. In 1931, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Holiday.

First under contract to Pathé, which was subsequently absorbed by RKO studio, Harding (who was promoted as the studio's 'answer' to MGM's superstar Norma Shearer), co-starred with Ronald Colman, Laurence Olivier, Myrna Loy, Herbert Marshall, Leslie Howard, Richard Dix, and Gary Cooper, often on loan out to other studios, such as MGM and Paramount. At RKO, Harding, along with Helen Twelvetrees and Constance Bennett, comprised a trio who specialized in the "women's pictures" genre.

Leslie Howard and Ann Harding in The Animal Kingdom, 1932

Her performances were often heralded by the critics, who cited her diction and stage experience as assets to the then-new medium of "talking pictures". Harding's second film was Her Private Affair, in which she portrayed a wife of questionable morality. The film was an enormous commercial success. During this period, she was generally considered to be one of cinema's most beautiful women, with her waist-length blonde hair as one of her most noted physical attributes. Her films during her peak include The Animal Kingdom, Peter Ibbetson, When Ladies Meet, The Flame Within, and Biography of a Bachelor Girl. Harding, however, eventually became stereotyped as the innocent, self-sacrificing young woman. Following lukewarm responses by both her critics and the public to several of her later 1930s films, she eventually quit making movies when she married the conductor Werner Janssen in 1937. However, she returned in 1942 to make Eyes in the Night and to take secondary roles in other movies. In 1956, she again starred with Fredric March, this time in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

The 1960s marked her return to Broadway after an absence of decades — she had last appeared there in 1927. In 1962, she starred in General Seeger, directed by and co-starring George C. Scott, and in 1964 she appeared in Abraham Cochrane. Both productions had brief runs, with the former play lasting a mere three performances (including previews). Harding made her last acting appearance in 1965 in an episode of Ben Casey before retiring from acting.

Personal life[edit]

Harding married actor Harry Bannister in 1926. They had one child together before divorcing in 1932. Their daughter Jane was born in 1928 and died in December 2005. In 1937, Harding married Werner Janssen, the famous conductor. Janssen and Harding enjoyed life in a number of cities, before settling down in California to work more closely with Hollywood. The couple divorced in 1962. Her death certificate states that she had an adoptive daughter Grace Kaye Harding.


On September 1, 1981, Harding died at the age of 79 in Sherman Oaks, California. After cremation, her urn was placed in the Court of Remembrance wall at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.

For her contributions to the motion picture and television industries, Harding has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6201 (motion picture) and 6840 Hollywood Boulevard (television).

Broadway stage credits[edit]

October 3, 1921 – Oct 1921Like a KingPhyllis Weston
October 1, 1923 – May 1924TarnishLetitia Tevis
September 8, 1924 – September 1924ThoroughbredsSue
October 7, 1925 – December 1925Stolen FruitMarie Millais
March 23, 1926 – April 1926SchweigerAnna Schweiger
September 28, 1926 – March 1927The Woman DisputedMarie-Ange
September 19, 1927 – October 1927The Trial of Mary DuganMary Dugan
February 28, 1962 – March 1, 1962General SeegerRena Seeger
February 17, 1964 – February 17, 1964Abraham CochraneMyra Holliday



1929Paris BoundMary Hutton
Her Private AffairVera KesslerCo-starred Harry Bannister
CondemnedMadame VidalUSA reissue title: Condemned to Devil's Island, Co-starred Ronald Colman
1930HolidayLinda SetonNominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
The Girl of the Golden WestMinnie
1931East LynneLady IsabellaThe film was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar
DevotionShirley Mortimer
1932PrestigeTherese Du Flos Verlaine
Westward PassageOlivia Van Tyne Allen OttendorfCo-starred Laurence Olivier
The ConquerorsCaroline Ogden StandishUSA reissue title: Pioneer Builders
The Animal KingdomDaisy SageUK Title: The Woman in His House, Co-starred Leslie Howard
1933When Ladies MeetClaire WoodruffCo-starred Myrna Loy
Double HarnessJoan ColbyCo-starred William Powell
The Right to RomanceDr. Margaret "Peggy" SimmonsCo-starred Robert Young
1934The Life of Vergie WintersVergie Winters aka Virginia Wood
The FountainJulie von Marwitz
The Hollywood Gad AboutHerselfShort subject
1935Biography of a Bachelor GirlMarion Forsythe
Enchanted AprilMrs. Lotty Wilkins
The Flame WithinDoctor Mary White
Peter IbbetsonMary, Duchess of TowersCo-starred Gary Cooper
1936The Lady ConsentsAnne Talbot
The Witness ChairPaula Young
1937Love from a StrangerCarol HowardUSA title: A Night of Terror, Co-starred Basil Rathbone
1942Eyes in the NightNorma LawryStarred Edward Arnold
1943Mission to MoscowMrs. Marjorie Davies
The North StarSophia PavlovaUSA recut version: Armored Attack
1944Nine GirlsGracie Thornton
JanieLucille Conway
1945Those Endearing Young CharmsMrs. Brandt (Captain)
1946Janie Gets MarriedLucille Conway
1947It Happened on 5th AvenueMary O'Connor
Christmas EveAunt Matilda ReedUSA reissue title: Sinner's Holiday
1950The Magnificent YankeeFanny Bowditch HolmesCo-starred Louis Calhern
Two Weeks with LoveKatherine Robinson
1951The Unknown ManStella MasonUSA title: The Bradley Mason Story
1956The Man in the Gray Flannel SuitHelen HopkinsStarred Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones
I've Lived BeforeMrs. Jane Stone
Strange IntruderMary Carmichael


1955CrossroadsHulda Lund1 episode
Studio 57Martha Halstead1 episode
1956Front Row CenterGrammie1 episode
1959The DuPont Show with June AllysonNaomi1 episode, "Ruth and Naomi"
1963The DefendersHelen Bernard1 episode
Burke's LawAnnabelle Rogers1 episode
1964Dr. KildareMae Priest1 episode
1965Ben CaseyEdith Sommers1 episode


  1. ^ Percy, Eileen. "Durante Will Be Made an M. G. M. Star; 'Schnozzle; Has Ste Record for Saving Pictures.", The Milwaukee Sentinel, October 26, 1932. "Ann Harding began hers 15 years ago in a dramatic class at East Orange High school."
  2. ^ Hollywood Undressed: Observations of Sylvia As Noted by Her Secretary (1931) Brentano’s.
  3. ^ Conner, Lynne (2007). Pittsburgh In Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0-8229-4330-3. Retrieved 2011-06-06.

External links[edit]