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Anne Bancroft Revisits the ‘20s (Fort Lauderdale News, April 1961)

— with the help of 1961 fashions

Fort Lauderdale News (Fort Lauderdale, Florida); 30 Apr. 1961; pg. 134.

Author: Sweeton Wood

Neither of Anne Bancroft’s roles in Two for the Seesaw or The Miracle Worker gave anyone a chance to see her as the glamorous female she is–5’7″ in her stocking feet, with measurements that are something to envy–35-23-35. So, her imagination triggered by the new clothes (so reminiscent of the ’20s), she herewith casts herself as a whole gallery of the glamourous girls who helped put them over the first time around.

Slim necks emerging from collarless or virtually collarless necklines, sleeves that are pared down or nonexistent, and a sparse unadorned line down the body that sometimes gets frivolously gay at the hemline.

Hats and hairdos go dramatically along with the change. The whole general fashion feeling is witty as well as feminine–the way a woman should be. They give a girl a wide-eyed dewy look that should bring men on the run…even if she’s not Anne Bancroft.

Fanny Brice: Wife of gambler Nicky (My Man) Arnstein and showman Billy Rose, she was the soul of the Roaring ’20s–the laughs, the torch songs, the Follies, the boozy clubs. As Baby Snooks, Anne chooses a middie and pleated skirt by McMullen.

Iris March: Like Hemingway’s Lady Brett Ashley and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Daisy, novelist Michael Arlen’s girl in the Green Hat symbolized the flaming females of the ’20s. With their rebellious airs and frenzied fun-fun-fun-at-any-price philosophy, we’d call them beatniks today. And if any actress must play a beatnik, why not a sophisticated beat like Iris, in a green silk hat, by Mr. John?

Helen Morgan: The piano-perching Queen of Nightclubs, star of Showboat, the Follies and the Scandals–what a role for any actress, especially when she can wear this orange chiffon dress with ostrich feathers, by Ceil Chapman.

Libby Holman: Though death robbed her of both a husband and a son, the “Moanin’ Low” songbird of the ’20s never lost her glamour. That’s for Anne, in white chiffon with a blue cape by Ceil Chapman.

Auntie Mame: Born in book form in 1955, she lived in the ’20s, and her free-wheeling irreverence toward tradition made her a true daughter of that era. This Dynasty of Hong Kong silk at-home costume is in keeping with what author Patrick Dennis says she wore.

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“Mother Courage” Scores High With Anne Bancroft (Oakland Tribune, May 1963)

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California); 6 May 1963; pg. 40.

Author: Theresa Loeb Cone

NEW YORK–Anne Bancroft, who received her Academy Award as “Best Actress” last month by proxy, continues to star in the Broadway staging of Bertold Brecht’s Mother Courage, the production which kept her in New York during the Oscar hoopla. 

Although Brecht, Germany’s greatest playwright of the last 50 years, is vastly popular in Europe, especially in his native country, most American theatregoers know him mainly via the long-run, off-Broadway presentation of The Threepenny Opera.

Little Theatres, however, have done great service for Brecht over the last 15 years. Bay Area audiences have been more fortunate than most. They had an opportunity to see many Brecht plays, especially the Actor’s Workshop’s recent Galileo and the group’s version of Mother Courage a few years ago. 

Good Cast:

Mother Courage at the Martin Beck Theater boasts a cast of singular excellence, with Miss Bancroft properly dominating events. She is the very epitome of the miserly, yet warm-hearted; wiley yet vulnerable; defeated yet indomitable Mother Courage who sells merchandise to the populace of several countries–soldier and civilian–from a covered wagon she hauls through the dismal 30 years war of the 17th Century.

Jerome Robbins has directed Brecht’s vehement denunciation of war to emphasize the pitiable lack of lessons learned by experience.

As a background to some of the action, huge photographs of World War I soldiers trudging along in much the same manner as Mother Courage, are flashed on the unadorned, curved screen against which the play’s 13 scenes are played. 

Elimination:

Several speeches and songs have been eliminated from the original version, but the cuts do not diminish the Brechtian impact made through the pungent, bitter, mocking dialogue and ironic events.

During the course of the play, Mother Courage’s business rises and falls with the demand for goods made scarce by the religious conflict. Although she loses all three of her children to the war, she finds herself like many another before and since, dreading peace which may mean poverty for her.

The only heroism depicted in Mother Courage with its cynical yet oddly compassionate view of human behavior is evidenced by the woman’s mute daughter who is killed when she warns a sleeping Saxon town it was about to be attacked.

Miss Lampert’s Role:

In this role, beautiful Zohra Lampert, who has been wasted in Hollywood films, is both a frightful and touching figure, especially in the final moments when she beats warning drums with deliberate defiance as soldiers threaten her.

Barbara Harris is outstanding as a camp follower who strikes it rich by marrying an aged Army officer.

Gene Wilder as a chaplain in disguise to avoid being slain by Catholic troops; Mike Kellin as a cook with Don Juan proclivities; Conrad Bromberg as the son executed in peacetime for the same deeds which won him honor during the war and ex-San Fransiscan Eugene Roche rate special applause. 

‘War is Terrible’:

As it was being pulled around by the bare stage with agonizing effort by Mother Courage taking place of her dead children and the final curtain descending, a smartly-dressed lady behind me complained to her companion: “All I got out of this play is that war is terrible and I knew that already.”

The overflow audience around us, however, evidently felt considerable more satisfied with the powerful production. It certainly deserved every one of the “bravos” in the air and then some.

We lost count after the ninth curtain call.

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Excerpt from “The Voice of Broadway” (The Mercury, April 1963)

The Mercury (Pottstown, Pennsylvania); 4 Apr. 1963; pg. 4.

Author: Dorothy Kilgallen.

“You’ll never view a more inspired performance than that offered by Anne Bancroft in Mother Courage and Her Children—rank her now with Helen Hayes, Katharine Cornell and Judith Anderson—she belongs with the greats.

I wish I could say Bertold Brecht’s heavy, wobbly message drama measured up to her talents. Incidentally, another noteworthy performance was that of Zohra Lampert who is coming along tremendously as a young actress destined for eventual stardom.”

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Anne Bancroft Turns Cheek 2,800 Times For Art’s Sake (The Record, July 1961)

She who gets slapped filming screen version of ‘The Miracle Worker.’

The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey); 28 Jul. 1961; pg. 9.

Author: Hal Boyle

NEW YORK–Anne Bancroft has been struck in the face more than 2,800 times in the name of art.

Film audiences gasped years ago when actress Mae Clarke played a role in which Jimmy Cagney pushed a grapefruit in her face.

A grapefruit in the face would be merely cool and refreshing to Miss Bancroft.

Hit Hard:

As Anne Sullivan, teacher of deaf, mute, and blind Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, she was slapped hard–or hit in the face with a plastic doll–four times a performance by her undisciplined young charge whom she gradually brings to love and learning.

Anne played the stage role through 700 performances and won her second Broadway Tony award. The first was for Two for the Seesaw.

She and Patty Duke, who plays Helen Keller as a child, are again co-starred in the screen version of The Miracle Worker, a picture that probably won’t leave a dry eye between here and Timbuktu.

The other day I talked with Miss Bancroft during a luncheon break on the set. She still wore knee pads under her long gown, and her head was ringing.

They had just finished shooting one of the slapping sequences, and Anne had been bopped in the face–and bopped hard to insure realism–some 15 times. 

“It’s all in the business,” she said matter of factly, “but sometimes you hate to do it over and over again–it it isn’t your fault.”

She said she had a headache but Anne, a dedicated actress if there ever was one, declined to take any aspirin. She said it might affect her performance in the scenes to be taken that afternoon. She sighed and stretched gratefully out on the relaxing board in her dressing room. Then she broke out her lunch–three carrots–and began to munch them thoughtfully.

“This is all I have on days when we’re doing the physically rough scenes,” she remarked. “If I ate any more, I get an upset stomach.”

Tries to Forget:

Anne, whose first public performance was an impromptu dance as a child before a captive audience of eight W.P.A. street workers in her native Bronx, was signed early by Hollywood. She appeared in a dozen or more films, all of which now she is willing to forget.

But it was her two starring appearances on Broadway that won her fame and recognition as one of the best current crop of young actresses. She is also one of the best-liked by other performers, who regard her as a real pro who worked hard to develop her natural talent. 

“I have hundreds and hundreds of problems,” she said cheerfully, tossing aside the rubble of the third carrot, “but no real plans ahead.”

“I don’t see how one can plan ahead in this business. I take singing lessons when I’m not busy working. I just want to do good stuff, whether its musicals or dramas.”

“I’m not sure what kind of person I am yet. I don’t believe I have a real philosophy of my own. I enjoy acting when it’s good, and people–even when they’re bad. I’m pretty content right now, but” –she laughed– “I don’t know how I’ll feel tonight.”

She arose from the relaxing board to return to the set. The next scene was one in which Patty Duke was to sock her in the face with a plastic doll. 

“They’ll probably have to shoot it over six or seven times,” Anne said gamely, “but the blows don’t hurt so bad except when Patty misses.”

“But she’s a good shot. She hits nine out of ten.”

The life of a star is a very interesting one.

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Anne Bancroft Tells Her Secret (The Spokesman-Review, December 1960)

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington); 18 Dec. 1960; pg. 40.

Author: Lydia Lane

NEW YORK–When I remarked at a cocktail party that I was visiting Anne Bancroft the next day, my hostess said, “I’ve seen The Miracle Worker seven times. I think she’s the greatest actress since Sarah Bernhardt.” A producer said, “Annie is kookie but not a kook.” While a young actress standing with him said, “She certainly goes out looking as if she hadn’t looked into the mirror.” 

With my head full of these remarks, I arrived at Miss Bancroft’s apartment to find her wearing a chic purple suit with a green and purple blouse, which matched the lining of her jacket. She seemed to have a radiance about her that she didn’t have the last time we met. 

“Five years ago in our last interview, we discussed a bad skin. It looks beautiful now,” I exclaimed.

“I have found the great products,” Anne revealed. “They come from France and regularly, once a week, I have a facial. With this method, you must study the muscles’ structure and the skin, and you vary the preparations with what the skin needs. I think you have to be careful about facials, because if they are not given the right way, they can do more harm than good.”

“It is so good to find you happy and contented. What’s happened to you?” I asked.

Discovery of Self:

“I have matured, and I have worked for the ‘discovery of self.’ I have had the help of a wonderful analyst,” Anne confided, “and he made me realize that many of my problems arose from prolonged adolescence. In becoming an individual, you have to find out what you enjoy, not what you think you enjoy. All kinds of conflicts arise from not really knowing what you want. You have to train yourself to be aware, to examine the activity in your life and eliminate as much as possible what does not bring you joy.”

“Getting to know yourself, facing yourself with honesty, means you have to adjust to reality. A lot of unhappiness comes from demanding more of yourself than you can give. There comes a great deal of peace in realizing your limitations.”

“I’m beginning to learn to be wise with my energy and not to think it is limitless. I used to waste it, like letting a water faucet run without turning it off. I had to educate myself to recognize signs of tension. I was tense all the time but I didn’t realize it. I was always in a keyed-up state. I have a long way to go, but as the old saying goes, ‘If you can’t stop the rain, you can dress for it.’”

“You know you’ve been criticized for going out in public without seeming to care about the way you look,” I mentioned.

“I am quite aware of it,” she replied. “It wasn’t a defiance as many people think it was. It wasn’t that I didn’t value good grooming. I do. I’m interested in fashion, and I buy with a plan and I try as chic as I can and still be comfortable.”

No Glamourous Hair-Do:

“But every night during Miracle I get a pitcher of water thrown on my hair. If I go out after the show, I cannot have a glamorous hair-do. I simply must pull it back as neatly as possible. All this talk about my being sloppy started when I was working on Two for the Seesaw. I had gained weight after my unhappy period in Hollywood and I couldn’t wear the clothes I had and I didn’t care to buy any in a larger size. I was so full of the play, of giving every bit of my concentration and energy to my job, that I had no time for grooming. I was aware of this, but I believe in doing first things first.”

“You are very slim now. How did you lose?” I asked.

Lost 30 Pounds:

“It took me three months to drop 30 pounds. I didn’t eat after a show. The food you eat before you go to bed is fattening. I have discovered that I feel well and keep the same weight by having one good well balanced meal at 5 o’clock.”

I told Anne that I liked the perfume she was wearing, and that the scent seemed familiar to me.

Her face lit up and she said, “It’s the first time I’ve found something I like well enough to wear all the time.” 

“You have had so many honors,” I said in parting. “How do you keep from being affected by your success?”

Anne laughed modestly and replied, “To rest on your laurels, you have to believe in them. The things of value, such as self-discipline, self-respect, tenacity, generosity, giving of yourself, cannot be taken away from you. I keep these things in mind and they keep me level-headed.”

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Anne Bancroft Quelled Accent (The Miami Herald, April 1953)

The Miami Herald (Miami, Florida); 20 Apr. 1953; pg. 26.

Author: Jimmie Fidler

Hollywood, Cal.–It is a matter of accent with Anne Bancroft, whether Bronxese or English. Handsome Anne was ad libbing cheerily and animatedly with a group of friends when I came on the scene this week at 20th Century Fox. She of the snappy dark eyes was telling how she learned pure English at the age of 16. Before that she spoke Bronxese. 

Only the day before she had been working in scenes in The Kid From Left Field at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, and the matter of American versions of the English language came up. A number of opinions had been advanced. 

It seems the discussions were held over until the day I ran into the group in the studio. I wanted to know more about the background that had produced the language discussion, and Anne told me. She said:

“I’d wanted to be a singer. But I had a bit of bad luck. I got a throat infection, and throat infections do things to one’s voice. Not nice things. So I went to the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York when I was 16 years old.”

“Associating with all those theater people who make a fetish of fine diction soon got rid of my Bronx accent–or at least painted it over.”

“But last year I went back to the Bronx–where I was brought up–and all the old way of speech came back. But I can turn that accent off and on like a faucet. If any producer is thinking of making Destination Bronx, just tell him that Annie doesn’t live there any more–but she still speaks the language.”

I assured Anne that if I got a tip on such production plans I’d pass along her request.

*Classic spoof: the photo that accompanies this column features actress Anne Baxter, not our Anne Bancroft.

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TV Wars Arm Anne for “Gladiator” Role (The Los Angeles Times, July 1953)

The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California); 26 July 1953; pg. 85.

Author: Philip K. Scheuer

Dark, sparkling-eyed Anne Bancroft, who came to movies from TV, misses the rehearsals most of all. Except for Roy Baker, who directed her first 20th Century Fox film, Don’t Bother to Knock, her studio mentors have been inclined to shoot first and ask questions afterward.

“In television, she says, “we rehearsed for days and days before. It gave us time to think about a part. That way you can always do a thing better than you’ve done it the last time until you get it close to the best.”

Set Video Record:

Anne Bancroft was Anne Marno in video. During one stretch she played 49 live shows in 69 weeks–all dramas, and a record, she believes. Each of these meant an average of three or four rehearsal days for a half-hour program and of nine days for an hour. The shows included Studio One, Danger, The Web and plays for Kraft. Despite the reputation she established as Anne Marno, Fox would have none of it.

“They did let me keep the Anne,” she relates. “I chose Bancroft from the list submitted to me.”

Born in New York:

She was born Anna Italiano–Anna Maria Louisa Italiano–21 years ago in New York City, the second of three daughters. Her father, who is in the dress business, and her mother are here with her now. On the screen, particularly, the medium-tall Anne gives almost no suggestion of her Italian heritage. She played a singer in a cocktail lounge in Don’t Bother to Knock, an aristocratic 17th-century snob in Treasure of the Golden Condor, Mrs. Sol Hurok in Tonight We Sing, a sophisticated secretary in The Kid from Left Field, and Paula, the prostitute (“you see how I make the rounds!”) in The Gladiators, formerly The Story of Demetrius

Sings a Bit:

“I seem to get most of my fan mail on Don’t Bother to Knock,” she remarked, “possible because I was just a regular all-American girl. No, I didn’t actually do the singing–Eve Marley did that, and I couldn’t have reached the high notes she reached. I do sing, though; sang a few songs in television, even if no one ever hired me expressly for that. It was just as extra added attraction if they wanted it.”

When asked if she was anything like the real Mrs. Sol Hurok in Tonight We Sing, she laughed.

“I don’t know,” she said, “I was a composite of two wives.”

Flapper at Heart:

“However, I did love the way I looked. I love the styles of the 20s–if I’m ever reincarnated, I want it to be as a flapper–so naturally I was in my glory.”

Anne never made up her mind to become an actress; she “just did.” On TV she played everything from an Italian girl of 16 to a Russian woman of 35. A friend, a test director for 20th, asked her to help out by appearing with a boy who had possibilities. It was a scene from The Girl on the Via Flaminia. The boy was tested and Anne got the contract–a very wonderful one, she says, as negotiated by her present manager, Mort Millman. 

Movies Easier Than TV:

Lack of rehearsals or not, she finds motion pictures easier than television. 

“In TV you are always running around, trying to be on a certain mark at a certain time,” she recalled. “I’ve always been a relaxed kind of actress and in that sense movies are a relief.”

“Nobody listens to me,” she added, “but I’d love to play comedy! True, to play comedy you’ve got to know your medium and where everything is–camera, props, lines, clothes–and I realize that’s difficult. It’s why I think rehearsals are so important.”

“On the other hand, some directors don’t rehearse you because they don’t want you to become mechanical. You have to work with what good points you have.”

Miss Bancroft, whose good points are considerable, declared she intends “to stay with pictures and do everything I’m given to do–3D, CinemaScope, color, black and white, flats–I don’t care what the medium is, so long as it’s acting!”

In the next breath, though, she said she’d like to get married and have kids. When you’re 21 and beautiful, all things are possible–even the possibility of combining a career with motherhood. But if she had to choose, I suspect she would take the latter.

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Anonymous Critics Annoy Anne Bancroft (The Times Dispatch, October 1960)

The Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia); 30 Oct. 1960; pg. 98.

Author: Earl Wilson

NEW YORK–I rushed down to West 12th St. in Greenwich Village to interview Anne Bancroft. I was late and she was in a hurry so we talked in clipped phrases (I clipped them personally). 

“Have you got a favorite beef?” I asked.

“My favorite beef is people who write criticizing letters after I’ve done a Jack Paar show and don’t sign their names. I’d love to answer them and tell them they’re nuts. Because they are!”

Miss Bancroft spoke from a sitting position. Her legs were crossed and I noticed that they were pretty. So was she. In a forthright sort of way.

“What could they possibly criticize?” I said.

“The way I talk,” she said, “they say it’s too Bronx. Well, it’s better than not talking at all. Or the way I wear my hair.”

“I like your hair.” I said.

“So do I,” Anne Bancroft said. “They’re just nuts.”

“You’ve been in The Miracle Worker a year–are you happy in it?” I inquired.

“I pretend I’m happy in it,” she shrugged.

Then I asked her a very daring question. I asked her if she wears padding. And she gave me a very daring answer. She said yes.

We were talking about the padding she wears for the knock-down scenes with Patty Duke in the play.

“My shoes are padded, my knees and shins are padded, and I’m also padded in a few other vulnerable places,” she smiled.

“You’re the first girl I’ve met who brags that she’s padded,” I said. “By the way, wouldn’t you like to have your next play give you a chance to show you’re attractive?”

“Sure,” she said, “but I wouldn’t do a play to prove I’m attractive. If the script is great I’d do Abraham Lincoln.”

“Literally?”

“Well, no, I can’t grow a beard.”

Miss Bancroft will be making the movie based on the play next spring and summer. Her last movie, before she got so famous in Two for the Seesaw was *The Lawless Breed with Scott Brady.

“Would you make that movie now?” I asked.

“No.”

“Then what did you make it for?”

“Money.”

“Where do you like to hang out in the village?” I said.

“It’s all according to whether I’m in a drinking mood. I like to sit around in one of the garden places if I’m not in a drinking mood.”

“Miss Bancroft,” I said, “I was reading an interview with Juliette Greco in a French paper in which she said it wasn’t so unusual for Brigitte Bardot to try to kill herself. She said, ‘I, too, have attempted suicide.’ Do you think most actresses have tried to commit suicide?”

“Well I haven’t, if that’s what you’re getting at,” she said.

“That’s what I was getting at.”

“No,” she said, “there are some things I haven’t tried.”

*Anne Bancroft never appeared in the film The Lawless Breed, which was actually released in 1953, starring Rock Hudson and Julie Adams. I believe Wilson meant The Restless Breed (1957), which did actually star Anne Bancroft and Scott Brady.

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“Don’t Bother to Knock” Offers Surprise for Monroe Fans (The Post-Standard, August 1952)

The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York); 6 Aug. 1952; pg. 17.

Author: T.N.T.

“PARAMOUNT–Don’t Bother to Knock: Jed Towers, Richard Widmark; Nell, Marilyn Monroe; Lyn Leslie, Anne Bancroft; Bunny, Donna Corcoran; Eddie, Elisha Cook, Jr. Produced for 20th Century Fox by Julian Blaustein. Directed by Roy Baker.

Paramount’s new picture on screen yesterday, Don’t Bother to Knock, must have offered a surprise to fans who were well aware of the incendiary quality of the star actors in the cast of the film story. There were Richard Widmark, whose rise to fame thru his unforgettable characterization of a very bad guy; Marilyn Monroe, whose curvaceous charms would naturally ticket her as “just another clothes horse” with ideal physical measurements and a pretty face, and the new Anne Bancroft, who came to movies thru her gift of song on radio and TV. 

But the story adapted from Charlotte Armstrong’s novel, provided several new twists in its episodes and called for superior acting from all three stars, likewise a large supporting cast. The action, directed by the imported British Roy Baker, takes place in one single evening in the McKinley Hotel, and you are led to believe you are present in the bar, lobby, cafe, elevator, in upstairs rooms and even in outside looking up at its lighted windows.

Miss Bancroft, who supplies several nice interludes of mike singing in the cafe, opens the story as she, Lyn Leslie, talks to the bartender, Willis B. Bouchey about her decision to break up with her boyfriend, Jed Towers, a commercial pilot with war flying behind him. She thinks he lacks ordinary “human sympathy. He’s fun of course, but doesn’t seem to realize that ‘people are people.’” She told him they are thru a note.

This switches to Jed’s room where Widmark as Jed is trying to figure his brushoff out. Watch Widmark. That advice isn’t necessary, because he will compel you to see him with every gesture, expression of his eyes and bodily reaction to the amazing experience which awaits him. 

Elevator operator Eddie brings his niece Nell (Miss Monroe) down to the hotel to baby-sit for little Donna Corcoran, Bunny. She is just out of a hospital where she suffered a mental lapse when her fiance was killed as a war flier. Jed has his cafe quarrel with Lyn and upstairs in his room, catches a glimpse of Nell, dancing around in finery of Bunny’s mother;s in the room across from the court. He phones the room and is invited to “come over,” which he promptly does with a bottle of rye. 

From then on, the plot is intricate; tension builds up in rapid sequences with plenty of humor sandwiched in, and an astonishing happy ending emerges from some of the most hectic moments a movie screen has ever registered. It’s a good melodramatic story and Miss Monroe turns in a performance which will convince her “clothes horse” pinup fans that here is a girl who can actually act. And Widmark reveals more of his real personality than even he could know. You’ll like Anne Bancroft and doubtless will be seeing and hearing more of her.

The supporting cast is good and the camera man is focused on the right angles to illustrate the brilliant script.

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Anne Bancroft’s Film Contract Gets Approval (The Los Angeles Times, November 1951)

The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California); 21 Nov. 1951; pg. 4.

Too excited to speak, raven-tressed Actress Anne Bancroft, 20, of New York, yesterday vigorously nodded her head to indicate to Superior Judge Orlando H. Rhodes that she was perfectly satisfied with her first motion-picture contract, which she won after appearing for 18 months in New York television productions.

Standing beside her in the Santa Monica courtroom were her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Italiano of New York, who likewise said they approved the 20th Century-Fox contract under which their daughter will receive $20,000 for her first year in pictures.

Although income taxes and expenses will take much of her earnings, the actress agreed willingly to a proposal by Judge Rhodes that she invest $75 a week or 15% of her income in government bonds.

A statement of expenses submitted by her mother indicated that the expenses will include a modest trousseau for the starlet’s forthcoming marriage to Actor John Ericson, now playing the lead in a Broadway production of Stalag 17.