The 1952 film With a Song in My Heart is an inspirational biopic about the life of a talented songstress named Jane Froman (Susan Hayward). Froman aspires to fame and fortune after she lands herself a role singing commercial jingles at a local Cincinnati radio station. Helping her to greatness is her biggest supporter, Don Ross (David Wayne), a pianist, aspiring composer and failed Vaudville performer. Ross soon becomes Froman’s manager/husband, and as her career ascends to new heights, their relationship enters into a freefall. Mired by jealously, Ross continually turns his back on his now-estranged wife. As World War II begins, the freedom-seeking Froman is called to Europe by the USO. While en route to Europe, her plane crashes, leaving her in the company of a small band of survivors and with badly injured legs. While in Europe, Froman is cared for in the hospital by a sweet and highly opinionated nurse, Clancy (Thelma Ritter). Froman’s path to recovery is a slow one as she is subjected to years of surgeries involving excrutiating pain and trauma. Her desire to stand and perform in front of crowds is soon diminshed. But with the constant support of Clancy and with a new man in her life, John Burn (Rory Calhoun), Froman’s passion to perform is reawakened and she takes on the task of entertaining injured American troops.
With a Song in My Heart, which was directed by Walter Lang, is a combination biographical drama/musical. The film, which focuses heavily on musical score and costuming, features the real Jane Froman’s amazing vocals (while Susan Hayward provides careful lip synching). It scored 5 Oscar nominations including Best Actress (for Hayward), Best Sound, Best Costume Design, and Best Score (for which it won the Oscar for Alfred Newman). The film’s 5th nomination was given to veteran character actress Thelma Ritter, nominee, (171). The Brooklyn-born Ritter provided much-needed comic relief in the role of Nurse Clancy. This was Ritter’s third of four consecutive Oscar nominations in the Best Supporting Actress category. Ritter would later go on to earn two more Best Supporting Actress nominations (in 1959 and 1962), thus giving her 6 nominations in a 12 year span. The great Thelma Ritter holds the distinction of receiving the most Best Supporting Actress nominations in Academy Awards history.