It is with great pride that I share with you this article regarding a friend of mine and the actions she took to finally get the last wishes of actress Ann Sheridan realized.
I hope the name Ann Sheridan is familiar to you; she was once one of the reigning goddesses of the movie business, known far and wide as the "Oomph" girl (a label that had been stuck on her by a Warner Bros. publicist in the late 1930s and a tag she hated but could never escape).
Following a long apprenticeship, her career soared when she starred in such still-seen classics as "Kings Row," in which she appeared with Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) (she was billed above him and also was in four other movies with R.R.); "The Man Who Came to Dinner"; "I Was a Male War Bride"; and numerous films with Bogart, Cagney and Flynn.
Later, she was one of the first movie "names" to go against tradition and appear on a daily TV soaper when she became a regular on "Another World." At the time of her death in 1967, she was starring on the popular "Pistols 'n' Petticoats" nighttime series.
In all my years around the movie and television arenas, I never heard anyone say a negative word about Sheridan -- everyone adored the "Oomph" girl. The stories of her down-to-earth, nonjudgmental and good-old-gal spirit are legendary; I've seen tears well up in the eyes of people when they speak of her, even now, 38 years after her death.
But what has just come to light -- and something that even those who knew her well weren't aware -- is the fact that, until recently, this lovely lady was never given a final resting place. Since her death, her cremated ashes have remained in an informal metal container in a storage drawer in a crematorium along with a wedding ring and favorite pair of earrings at the Chapel Of The Pines Crematory. (Sheridan's third husband, actor Scott McKay, died in 1987, leaving the "whys" unanswered.)
It was Sheridan biographer Karen McHale who made the discovery while doing research on a book about the actress. After sleuthing and working with Sheridan's heirs and estate executors, she has helped put the wheels into motion for all this to finally end on a positive note. Sheridan, following basic wishes she put forth in a will signed just a few months before her death, is now interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery opposite Paramount Pictures (where, coincidentally, she began her career in 1933 as an extra and bit player).
To commemorate what would have been Sheridan's 90th birthday Feb. 21, there'll be an official dedication that day at the site, officiated by the actress' cousin, Presbyterian Pastor Sallie Watson of Denton, Texas, and former Sheridan co-workers and pals, including Carole Wells (of the "Pistols" TVer), Vincent Sherman, A.C. Lyles and Johnny Grant.
To give you some idea of La Sheridan's spunk and humor, it's part of Old Hollywood folklore that on the occasion of her 30th birthday, she threw a party at the now-razed House of Murphy restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard near Burton Way with a guest list comprising Sheridan and 30 of her former lovers (including two ex-husbands -- Edward Norris and George Brent), all of whom showed up and had a roaring good time. It's said the laughter that night could be heard all the way to Beverly Hills. It also gives you an indication of how much everyone adored the lady with "Oomph" when you consider that the wives of those ex-lovers were known to have gleefully let their husbands attend, stag.