Actress Ann Savage’s Collection Acquired by Harry Ransom Center

April 20, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — The collection of actress Ann Savage (1921-2008) has been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.

The collection includes Savage's annotated film scripts, scrapbooks, photo collections, clippings, business contracts, feature film prints, home movies and 35mm slides. Many of the items have not been published or publicly displayed.

Lobby card from 'Detour' (1945)
Lobby card from "Detour" (1945).Image: Harry Ransom Center

The collection spans Savage's career, from her initial contact with her first agent, Frank Orsatti, to her work with filmmaker Guy Maddin on "My Winnipeg" (2008). Savage, who died Dec. 25, is often recognized for her performance in the film noir classic "Detour" (1945).

In 1992, the Library of Congress selected "Detour" as part of the National Registry of Film, the first film noir to be on the list.

Beginning with her first film appearance as an extra in "The Great Waltz" (1938), Savage made more than 30 films, predominantly in the 1940s and '50s. Savage was also a popular World War II pinup model, working with photographers George Hurrell, Robert Coburn and Bernard of Hollywood.

"Ann Savage's work in the landmark film 'Detour' is of interest to the Ransom Center as it complements the Center's holdings of other film noir masterworks such as 'The Third Man' (1949), held in the David O. Selznick collection, 'Sunset Boulevard' (1950) in the Gloria Swanson collection, 'Sweet Smell of Success' (1957) in the Ernest Lehman collection and 'Taxi Driver' (1976) in the Robert De Niro collection," said Steve Wilson, Ransom Center associate curator of film.

The collection contains Savage's original leather-bound production shooting script for "Detour," which differs significantly from the film's final release print. Savage annotated the script twice, first in pencil during production in 1945 and then in pen during the 1980s and '90s.

"Ann's personal shooting script for the noir classic 'Detour' shows that Producers Releasing Corporation intended 'Detour' to be a much longer feature than the final released cut," said Kent Adamson, Savage's manager. "Ann's annotations shed new light on her creative process in developing her iconic performance as 'Vera,' as well as clarifying explicit directions she received from director Edgar G. Ulmer during production. It was one of Ann's final wishes that her professional documents and materials be available to scholars, students and the public for future use. She was delighted to know that the Ransom Center had the facilities, expertise and desire to help fulfill her dream."

The materials will be accessible once organized and housed.

High-resolution press images from the Savage collection are available.

For more information, contact: Jennifer Tisdale, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512 471 8949;  Alicia Dietrich, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512-232-3667.