LOS ANGELES — Ann Savage, who earned a cult following as a femme fatale in such 1940s pulp-fiction movies as “Detour,” has died at 87.
The actress died in her sleep at a nursing home on Christmas Day from complications following a series of strokes, said her manager, Kent Adamson.
Her Hollywood career had largely been over since the mid-1950s, but she had a resurgence over the past year with a starring role in Canadian cult filmmaker Guy Maddin’s “My Winnipeg.”
Starting with her 1943 debut in the crime story “One Dangerous Night,” Savage made more than 30 films through the 1950s, including Westerns (“Saddles and Sagebrush,” “Satan’s Cradle”), musicals (“Dancing in Manhattan,” “Ever Since Venus”) and wartime tales (“Passport to Suez,” “Two-Man Submarine”).
Savage was best-known for director Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1945 B-movie “Detour,” in which she played a woman ruthlessly blackmailing a stranger, played by Tom Neal.
“It’s actually a showcase role,” Adamson said. “Neal and Savage really reversed the traditional male-female roles of the time. She’s vicious and predatory. She’s been called a harpy from hell, and in the film, too, she’s very sexually aggressive, and he’s very, very passive. It’s very unusual for a ’40s film to have a woman come on that strong.”
Decades later, “Detour” and Savage gained a cult audience on television and home video.
Adamson said Maddin had been a longtime fan of “Detour.” Maddin cast Savage to play his mother in “My Winnipeg,” a combination of documentary, drama and personal memoir about his native city in Manitoba.
Savage did some television in the 1950s, including “Death Valley Days” and “The Ford Television Theatre,” then left Hollywood for New York City, where she appeared in commercials and industrial films.
In 1986, Savage returned to acting with an appearance in “Fire With Fire,” a drama whose cast included Virginia Madsen and D.B. Sweeney.