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Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel

by Christina Rice

Availablecloth$40.00s 978-0-8131-4426-9
Screen Classics
384 pages  Pubdate: 11/14/2013  6 x 9  69 b&w photos

Possessing a unique beauty and refined acting skills, Ann Dvorak (1911–1979) found success in Hollywood at a time when many actors were still struggling to adapt to the era of talkies. Seemingly destined for A-list fame, critics touted her as “Hollywood’s New Cinderella” after film mogul Howard Hughes cast her as Cesca in the gangster film Scarface (1932). Dvorak’s journey to superstardom was derailed when she walked out on her contractual obligations to Warner Bros. for an extended honeymoon. Later, she initiated a legal dispute over her contract, an action that was unprecedented at a time when studios exercised complete control over actors’ careers.

As the first full-length biography of an often-overlooked actress, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel explores the life and career of one of the first individuals who dared to challenge the studio system that ruled Tinseltown. The actress reached her pinnacle during the early 1930s, when the film industry was relatively uncensored and free to produce movies with more daring storylines. She played several female leads in films including The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932), Three on a Match (1932), and Heat Lightning (1934), but after her walk-out, Warner Bros retaliated by casting her in less significant roles.

Following the casting conflicts and illness, Dvorak filed a lawsuit against the Warner Bros. studio, setting a precedent for other stars who eventually rebelled against the established Hollywood system. In this insightful memoir, Christina Rice explores the spirited rebellion of a talented actress whose promising career fell victim to the studio empire.

Christina Rice is a librarian and photo archivist at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. (

Rice is a superb writer with just the right touch—not too heavy, not too light. We really get to know Ann Dvorak. -- Eve Golden, author of John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars

Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel is more than the biography of an overlooked movie star. Author Christina Rice has meticulously researched the life of Dvorak, whose strong, self-reliant characters made her an important presence in the pre-Code era. Written in a reader-friendly style, Ann Dvorak explores the highs and lows of the actress who dazzled viewers in the classics Ann Dvorak and Ann Dvorak . -- Susan Doll, author of Florida on Film: The Essential Guide to Sunshine State Cinema

Ann Dvorak has always been an enigmatic figure, whether you’re looking at her electric vitality in the 1932 Scarface or her feline grace in 1947’s The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. Fifteen years separate these unique performances, and there’s no one like Ann Dvorak, yet the story of her career remains untold. In Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel, Christina Rice corrects this oversight. We learn about the ambitious young dancer, how her unusual looks and singular intensity pulled her into acting, and how her path to stardom ended in regretful obscurity. This is a compelling story, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes sad, but Christina Rice tells it honestly and objectively. Her dedicated research makes it possible to see both Ann Dvorak and her milieu with clarity. Ann Dvorak l is a sensitive biography of a real talent. -- Mark A. Vieira, author of George Hurrell's Hollywood

A scrupulously researched, consistently insightful and thoroughly welcome biography. Fans and students of Hollywood's fascinating pre-Code era will particularly appreciate a chance to learn more about one of its most sophisticated, intelligent, and hauntingly beautiful actresses. -- Margaret Talbot, author of The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father's Twentieth Century

Recommended movie star reading . . . Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel by Christina Rice. Ann Dvorak looked to be on the road to stardom at Warner Bros, but she chafed too often at restrictions placed upon her. Yet who besides the most devoted film fanatic knows of Miss Dvorak? Fascinating read on a fascinating actress. -- Liz Smith -- New York Social Diary

Ann Dvorak may be the biggest Hollywood star you've never heard of. By 19 years old, she had established herself with a leading role in the 1932 classic "Scarface." But, on the verge of going supernova, the young star seemingly gave it all up for love. Now, after 15 years of research, librarian Christina Rice's long-anticipated biography, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel, has reignited interest in the star's story. -- Nathan Masters -- KCET

Dvorak's story is the intriguing examination of a facet of Hollywood little reported on. Rice captures the loneliness and pain of losing stardom, and just being lonely within old age. It's biographies like these, and authors like Rice, who keep the memory of these forgotten stars burning bright. Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel is part Hollywood biography and paean to a star who may not have always known what she wanted, but was well aware of what she didn't want. Worth seeking out! -- Journeys in Classic Film

Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel by Christina Rice explores the life and career of one of the first actors who dared to challenge the studio system that ruled Tinseltown, and who found success when many were struggling to adapt to the era of talkies. -- Publishers Weekly

Now, thanks to Rice's epic effort to research and reconstruct her life, Dvorak will be much more than just a ghost of Old Hollywood. -- LA Weekly