Ann Rutherford, who has died aged 94, was adept at portraying pluck and persistence. As Polly Benedict, Andy Hardy's ever-faithful girlfriend, in 13 of the 15 Hardy family film series made between 1937 and 1946, she had to wait around for Mickey Rooney's accident-prone adolescent to return to her after some dalliance with another girl. Andy would seek advice on romance from his stern but wise and fair father, Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone). "Dad, can I talk to you man to man? Can a guy be in love with two girls at once?" Inevitably, Andy would realise, with hints from his dad, that Polly was his own true love.
The Hardy series, one of the most popular in screen history, was the archetypal idealisation of small-town America and apple-pie family values, with