Mary Ann Hyde is the ultimate proof that even incredible legs and a slender body were not really enough to become a movie star. A true knockout, she nonetheless never achieved anything remotely close to cinematic fulfillment.
Mary Ann Hyde was born in cca 1923 in Akron, Ohio. Her father was a wealthy banker.
The family moved to Beverly Hills, California, in he 1930s. Her father continued his prosperous job, and thus Mary Ann belonged to the Beverly Hills social set . She attended Beverly Hills High School, majoring in art and hopign to become a painter. fate had something different in store for her – in the early 1940s, producer/director Tay Garnett, a friend of her father’s, asked her if she wanted to be in the movies. Owning to her incredible looks more than her talent, she was signed to a contract in 1942 and started her career.
Mary Ann’s career is very, very slim. She appeared in only four films, and never made it to the credited tier.
Her first uncredited role was in Seven Sinners, a Marlene Dietrich/John Wayne western. A nice blend of comedy and social satire, it manages to satisfy both fans of Dietrich (who like sophisticated movies with a strong female lead) and fans of Wayne (who liked action and tough guys). Special mention goes to Broderick Crawford as a strong support.
That Night in Rio is the kind of that shows us that even escaping fare can be well made. The simple, clean plot, breezy dialogue, endearing stars and great music all neatly combined in a top notch package – while this is not the kind of movie that will leave you thinking for days afterwards, it manages to entertain and leave a positive impression. And it catapulted Alice Faye to sure stardom.
Flesh and Fantasy is Mary Ann’s claim to “fame”. When browsing through old newspapers, it’s clear she got most publicity from appearing in this movie. While her role in minuscule and uncredited, it’s very flashy- she is Charles Boyer‘s aerial partner (Boyer plays an acrobat). Chosen because of her long, lean legs and good coordination skills, Mary Ann spend weeks and weeks practicing above the safety net so she could play the part convincingly. The movie is a anthology of three stoires dealing with the supernatural. This “three movies in one” format was very popular for a brief time in the 1940s, and despite being rarely used since, Flesh and Fantasy holds up well today and is definitely worth watching. The most impressive thing about it are the actors no doubt – Charles Boyer, Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck, Thomas Mitchell, and the list goes on! Sadly, Mary Ann’s segment is the weakest of the three, but on the other hand, it’s hard to match Robinson and Stanwyck in the same frame!
Up in Arms is a movie that perfectly showcases the typical Danny Kaye vehicle – phony, unbelievable, but absolutely enchanting and lovable. Danny is supported by the great Dinah Shore and the equally good Dana Andrews and Constance Dowling.
Mary Ann cut her movie career short after this.
Mary Ann had the looks and body type Hollywood loved – all clean, elongated lines, very lean, not too tall nor muscular, with stunning legs, lush black hair and a cute face.
Behind her socialite facade, Mary Ann was a serious sportswoman. The press lauded her as a top line underwater harpooner, who routinely captured stingarees. Armed only with a strong swimming stroke, underwater goggles and a steel barbed, wood handled harpoon four feet long (with a coil of light rope attached), she caught fish many men could only dream off.
With her combination of looks, personality and breeding it’s no wonder that Mary Ann had the luck of dating some very desirable, luscious men. She had great taste, that’s for sure!
If she ever gets mentioned today in books, it’s mostly because she was, for a brief time, the serious girlfriend of Errol Flynn. Although the words “serious girlfriend” and Errol Flynn don’t go quite hand in hand, she was a prominent Flynn date in the late 1943 and early 1944. Flynn had just come out of a nasty rape charge, and was probably more vulnerable than ever before, making a great opening for any woman to cement her position with him, but with his usual Flynn panache, he did not give in to his morose toughs dated others girl(s). One of them was none other than Linda Christian, the famous temptress who seduced the likes of Tyrone Power, Edmund Purdom and Alfonso de Portago.
Indeed, it was clear from the beginning that Mary Ann had no real chance to snag Errol for the long run. She was a young, inexperienced girl, and he was a well known lothario, and the competition for his attentions were fierce. She never lived with him at his home in Mullholland drive, but stayed there often and provided him with more than a romantic liaison – she was also his part time secretary. Flynn paid her back by engaging her in once in a lifetime whirlwind romance, wining and dining her at some of the most famous restaurants and clubs in Hollywood. While it’s clear that those wild, unbelievable romances almost never last, it must have been helluva lot of fun for Mary Ann to be in such a revered position.
By the middle of 1944, Flynn had moved on, and so did Mary Ann. After some casual dates, she fell in love with David Silva, a famous Mexican actor on loan to Hollywood. Another whirlwind courtship followed, and they were married in Tijuana, Mexico, during a massive downpour, in November 1944. They returned to Los Angeles afterwards.
The marriage did not last, and they divorced in 1946. Silva became one of the most prominent Mexican actors of his generation. He died in 1976.
I have no idea what happened to Mary Ann afterwards, or if she is alive today.