CARMICHAEL, CA--Ann Doran, a prolific, veteran actress with an extensive resume that spanned five decades and more than 200 films, died here Sept. 19, 2000, following a series of strokes. As is sometimes the case with actresses from that era, her age is in some dispute. Most sources say she was 89, but one obituary said she was 93 and another said 86. She is perhaps best remembered as James Dean's mother in 1955's "Rebel Without a Cause," a role that reportedly spilled over into the actress' private life, with the insecure Dean seeking Doran out for motherly comfort and advice. MSTies will recall her role as trusting widow Martha Blake in episode 510- THE PAINTED HILLS and in a small role as political wife Mavis Varden in 615- KITTEN WITH A WHIP.
She was born in Amarillo, TX, the daughter of U.S. Army Lt. John Doran and his wife Carrie, an actress with the stage name of Rose Allen. The family moved to Los Angeles around 1920 where Carrie worked in silent movies. Ann also had some child roles. They later moved to San Bernardino where Ann graduated from San Bernardino High School in 1929. After attending USC and UCLA, she returned to films in teenaged roles at Educational Studios.
Her adult movie career continued until 1986, often in supporting roles as tough-minded working women: reporters, executive secretaries, scientists. Among the best-remembered films in which she appeared: "A Summer Place" (1959), "Them!" (1954), "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" (1946), "Mr. Skeffington" (1944), "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942), "Meet John Doe" (1941), "Penny Serenade (1941), "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" (1936). To see her in a rare leading role, check out 1938's "Rio Grande."
On television, Doran made hundreds of appearances--by one count, over a thousand. Among them: "Highway To Heaven", "Eight Is Enough," "M*A*S*H", "Little House On The Prairie," "The A-Team," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Cannon," "Bewitched," "Petticoat Junction," "The Virginian," "Perry Mason," and even "Lassie" working again in 1954 with her 1951 movie co-star.
Doran served as recording secretary of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) from 1960 to 1965. In 1964, she began a 30-year tenure on the SAG Pension and Health Board of Trustees. In 1973 the actress helped establish the John L. Dales Scholarship Fund, which bestows financial aid to college students. As a result of her work with SAG, Doran was honored with the Guild's Hollywood Branch Ralph Morgan Award in 1990. Doran also served on the boards of the Actors Fund, Theater Authority, Permanent Charities and the Motion Picture and Television Fund.