Librarian and film historian Christina Rice was having a hard time finishing the biography of overlooked thirties Hollywood actress Ann Dvorak on which she’d been toiling for 15 years.
Then, Rice got pregnant with her first child, and, well, fuhgettaboutit.
As she reassessed her time, though, not wanting to ditch all the research she’d lovingly gathered, she realized the ride on the Red Line to and from her job at LA’s Central Library downtown was an unmined gem.
So, she started hauling her laptop, grabbing the right seat, and tapping away on the keyboard during the 20 minutes or so she was on board from North Hollywood to downtown. Voila! After several months, she completed the draft.
Now, this passion project has been released as an actual book, published by the University of Kentucky Press.
Process aside, Hollywood history buffs will dig the subject: Ann Dvorak was a thirties movie actress who captured Rice’s imagination years ago when she saw the 1932 Mervyn LeRoy film Three on a Match. Rice wondered what happened to her and her once-promising career. The short answer? She walked out of her Warner Brothers contract in 1932 to get married. Over years of research, Rice even sleuthed out the actress’ one-time home on a former walnut ranch in Encino, and asked its current owner if she could get married there. (The answer was yes.)
And no, Rice and her husband didn’t name their firstborn child Ann. “Too obvious,” she said. Instead they chose another film star’s name: Gable. As you can see from her reaction to her mother’s book, she’s already getting an education in thirties film history.
We figured the best place to interview Rice was in the metro station downtown at 7th and Hope. You can join her book celebration at the Central library (630 W. 5th Street) on November 12th from 6-8pm.