Sheridan, Clara Lou [Ann] (1915–1967)

By: Stacy A. Cordery

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: August 5, 2020

Clara Lou Sheridan, film actress who starred under the name Ann Sheridan, was born in Denton on February 21, 1915, the daughter of George W. and Lula Stewart (Warren) Sheridan. Her father was a car mechanic. She was the youngest of six children and was raised a Southern Baptist. She attended North Texas State Teachers College until an older sister sent her photograph to Paramount Studios' "Search for Beauty" contest in 1932. As a finalist she won a stock contract with Paramount and a part in the movie Search for Beauty (1933). Over the next two years she had bit parts in twenty movies. A name change and a switch to Warner Brothers' studio in 1935 began a stormy, twelve-year working relationship characterized by personal strikes for better scripts and higher pay. Through a publicity stunt, she won a contest against ten other starlets to be named America's "Oomph-Girl," an achievement that gave her some bargaining power. Ann Sheridan herself admitted she did not know what the term meant and described it as "What a fat man says when he leans over to tie his shoelace in a telephone booth." Throughout her thirty-three-year career, she generally played glamorous, often comedic, vamps and "girl-next-door" characters. She starred with leading men as diverse as Zachary Scott, Errol Flynn, James Cagney, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant. Her films included Angels With Dirty Faces (1938), Dodge City (1939), King's Row (1941), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941), George Washington Slept Here (1942), Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), and I Was a Male War Bride (1949). Her popularity peaked in the 1940s with an extended USO tour through the Far East. After nine mediocre movies in the 1950s and some live summer stock, Sheridan played on the NBC soap opera "Another World" and was shooting a CBS television comedy series, "Pistols 'n Petticoats," at the time of her death from cancer on January 21, 1967. She died in California and was buried in North Hollywood. Sheridan was married at various times to three professional actors: Edward Norris in 1936, George Brent in 1942, and Scott McKay in 1966. Each marriage lasted less than a year. She was a partner in a poodle-raising business from 1948 to 1959. In the 1940s and 1950s she donated much of her time and money to a Hollywood Boys Town for teenage delinquents.

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Robert Higgins, "The `Oomph Girl' is 51," TV Guide, May 21, 1966. New York Times, January 22, 23, 1967. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 4.


  • Women
  • Performing Arts

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Stacy A. Cordery, “Sheridan, Clara Lou [Ann],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 26, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 5, 2020

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