• 19 February 1921
  •  Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Ann Savage


For one tough cookie who achieved major cult stardom with her hard-bitten blonde looks and "Perfect Vixen" tag, Ann Savage in real life was a lovely, spirited, gentle-looking lady. She may have peaked only briefly in 1940s Hollywood low-budgeters, but she made the most of it during that fairly short tenure. Out of the dozens of movies under her belt, one film part shot her to femme fatale infamy and, to this day, remains her biggest claim to fame. It took only four (some accounts say 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 US Army officer and the family traveled with him to his various duty stations, including Dallas and New Orleans, until 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 was 10 years old. Appearing in local theater productions, the young girl trained at Max Reinhardt's acting school. The school's manager happened to be Bert D'Armand, who later became her agent. They married in 1945. She changed her name to "Ann Savage" before even stepping onto a sound stage and it was a workshop production of "Golden Boy" that led to her initially signing up at Columbia Pictures. The first glimpse of Ann came as an extra in MGM's The Great Waltz (1938) and she gradually earned on-camera experience in unbilled parts in such war-era movies as The More the Merrier (1943) and Murder in Times Square (1943). She rose 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). Although Ann played devilish dames in The Unwritten Code (1944), Apology for Murder (1945) and The Last Crooked Mile (1946), it was venomous Vera, the blackmailing, tough-talking, cigarette-dangling, good-for-nothing who bullies hapless wanna-be tough-guy musician (Tom Neal) into her schemes in Detour (1945) that truly summed up her "bad girl" charisma. At the inducement of Columbia Pictures honcho Harry Cohn, Savage and Neal made four films together (the last being "Detour"). The other three were Klondike Kate (1943), Two-Man Submarine (1944) and The Unwritten Code (1944) (the two would reunite years later in a 1955 TV episode of the series Gang Busters (1952)). Ann was one of the more popular WWII pinups. After appearing in a photo layout in "Esquire" magazine in 1944 that was shot by renowned studio photographer George Hurrell Sr., she 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 second-string pictures, including One Exciting Night (1944), The Spider (1945), The Dark Horse (1946), Renegade Girl (1946), Jungle Flight (1947), Satan's Cradle (1949), Pygmy Island (1950) and Woman They Almost Lynched (1953), which would be her last film for over three decades. While she certainly demonstrated talent and range, she was unable to rise out of the "B" mold. This led her to look at TV for a time in the 1950s as a possible medium, guesting on such shows as The Ford Television Theatre (1952), City Detective (1953), Schlitz Playhouse (1951), Death Valley Days (1952) and Fireside Theatre (1949). Ann semi-retired in the late 1950s and moved from Hollywood to Manhattan with husband Bert, who by now had traded his agent business for the financing and professional trading world. She occasionally appeared on local TV and in industrial films. The couple traveled extensively until his sudden death in 1969. A grief-stricken Ann returned to Hollywood to be near her mother, sharpened her legal secretarial skills by working as a docket clerk with Bert's attorneys in Los Angeles (Loeb & Loeb) and became an avid speed-rated pilot in her spare hours. Elsewhere the veteran actress continued to delight her fans with her appearances at "film noir" festivals, nostalgia conventions and special screenings of her work. Refusing to appear in exploitive material, Ann turned down much work. In later years she appeared very sporadically--in the movie Fire with Fire (1986) and an episode of Saved by the Bell (1989). Out of nowhere the resilient octogenarian was cast by Canadian director Guy Maddin, a film noir fan, to play a shrewish mother in the highly acclaimed Winnipeg mon amour (2007), earning "bad girl" raves all over again. Named an "icon and legend" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2005, Ann was applauded for her body of work by "Time" Magazine twice in 2007. She died at a Hollywood nursing home at age 87 on Christmas Day in 2008 following multiple stroke complications.


Movie Name Release Date
Μοιραία συνάντηση (Παράκαμψη) – Detour (1945) October 3, 1990