Ann May

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c. 1921

Ann May (1901 – July 26, 1985)[1] was a silent film star who made motion pictures from (1919 - 1925). Her given name was Anna Max and she was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.[2] In appearance she was compared to Dorothy Gish, with her short fluffy hair and eyes which sparkled.

Film Actress[edit]

She was an heiress who came to Hollywood after graduating from a school of dramatic art[3] in Ohio,[4] in 1917. Prior to this she studied at the Ursula Academy.[1] May won a scholarship to do post-graduate work. Her father was opposed to her doing any type of acting, so she waited until after his death to pursue this venture. She went back to the dramatic school after a dissatisfying stay of three months in California.[3] Her first roles were minor parts in the productions of Samuel Goldwyn and Famous Players-Lasky.[1]

She returned after receiving a wire from actor, Charles Ray, who said he had a role for her as leading lady in his film, Paris Green (1920).[4] By late 1919 she was earning an income of $200 per week making movies.[3]

May was among the supporting cast of Lombardi, Ltd. (1919), a movie which featured Bert Lytell. Released by Metro Pictures in October 1919, the Jack Conway directed film recreated a story which was previously acted on the stage. In the comedy the character Tito Lombardi exerts his influence on three women, two of them played by Alice Lake and Vera Lewis.[5] May secured this role while conversing with Conway at a party. She later became acquainted with Pat Powers who gave her an opportunity at Universal Pictures. She met Ray following a game of tennis at the Beverly Hills Hotel.[4]

In The Half Breed (1922) May is paired with Wheeler Oakman in a western produced by Oliver Morosco. The daring scenes she performed in this movie showed her talent as a performer. As an actress she was diverse enough to play a daring rider or a delicate society girl from the east.[6] One film critic questioned why May was not a bigger star in her profession. He made reference to her "elfin humor, a tropical vampishness that is irresistible charm."[7]

She is in The Dangerous Maid (1923), a production of Joseph Schenck which gave Constance Talmadge her first opportunity to act in a dramatic role. The setting of the film is England during the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth against James II.[8] May began work on The End of the World in April 1924 after a break of several months, during which she performed on stage.[9] She played the role of a vamp in Waking up the Town' (1925), which starred Norma Shearer and Jack Pickford.[10] Directed by Vernon Keays, the movie was shot on location in Carmel, California.[11] May was injured during filming when a large piece of wood struck her in the forearm during a most realistic action scene, which resembled an earthquake. She was forced to stop working for several days until her arm healed.[12]

In The Fighting Cub[13] May has the leading feminine role in a feature about a cub reporter. Directed by Paul Hurst, Mildred Harris and Pat O'Malley are other actors who make up the cast.[14] The melodrama written by Phil Goldstone has Wesley Barry as the young reporter and O'Malley as the editor of a large daily newspaper.[13]

Private life[edit]

May became engaged to actor Ralph Graves after meeting him at the studio of D.W. Griffith.[3]

She practiced dancing with modern dance pioneer and choreographer, Ruth St. Denis, on the front lawn of May's Hollywood home.[15] Early in her career May resided for a time at the Hollywood Studio Club.[16]

A petition filed in a Cincinnati Federal Court in September 1921 revealed that May was the beneficiary of an insurance policy taken out by E.M. Noel, a wealthy oil man who died in Cincinnati in January 1920. It was disclosed that Noel purchased two automobiles, jewelry, and advanced large sums of money, amounting to $30,000, to May. One of the cars had been recovered from May with the lawyer's advice. The $75,000 insurance benefit to May was cancelled by Noel upon the attorney's persuasion.[2]

Partial Filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Morosco's..Latest..Find, Los Angeles Times, August 13, 1922, pg. III32.
  2. ^ a b Oil Man's Romance Recalled By Suit, Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1921, pg. I13.
  3. ^ a b c d Flashes, Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1919, pg. II9.
  4. ^ a b c Butterflying Into Filmdom, Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1920, pg III1.
  5. ^ Films, Los Angeles Times, September 30, 1919, pg. III4.
  6. ^ Shoot Climax For Half Breed, Los Angeles Times, April 10, 1921, pg. III17.
  7. ^ Flashes, Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1922, pg. II9.
  8. ^ Constance Returns To Her Skirts, Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1923, pg. II11.
  9. ^ Ann May Starts Work, Los Angeles Times, April 13, 1924, pg. B19.
  10. ^ Norma Shearer To Be With Pickford, Los Angeles Times, March 29, 1924, pg. 13.
  11. ^ Jack Pickford At Carmel, Los Angeles Times, May 3, 1924, pg. 13.
  12. ^ Actress Injures Arm, Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1924, pg. 24.
  13. ^ a b Fighting Cub Depicts Thrills of News Gutting, Los Angeles Times, January 31, 1926, pg. 31.
  14. ^ Barry Lad Grows Into Youth Role, Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1924, pg. C31.
  15. ^ Ann May A Sylph, Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1920, pg. II7.
  16. ^ Film Club Is Joy Haven, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1921, pg. II9.

External links[edit]