Here is a list of wonderful supporting actresses of Golden Age Hollywood. They contributed a lot to the movies they were in.
Additions are most welcome.
Disclaimer: I've received some feedback on this list, and most criticism comes from the fact that I have placed here some actresses who played leading parts. I agree they did, but I consider an actress a leading lady only when she is on par with her leading man, when they both are equally fascinating, equally rivet my attention in the leading player capacity and generally can hold a movie all by themselves (as a leading lady should). Quite often this is not the case with those 'minor' leading actresses (which does not diminish their wonderfulness in the least, only affects their formal status in my book).
Other people probably adhere to more formal criteria of determining who is a leading and who is a supporting player. I respect their right to have a different opinion.
Of Irish/English ancestry, Agnes was born near Boston, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister (her mother was a mezzo-soprano) who encouraged her to perform in church pageants. Aged three, she sang 'The Lord is my Shepherd' on a public stage and seven years later joined the St. Louis Municipal Opera as a dancer and singer for four years...
“ I am actually afraid of her, esp. in "Dark Passage." ” - lora-31
Alice Brady was born in New York City on November 2, 1892. She was interested in the stage from childhood, as her father was famed Broadway producer William A. Brady
. After a few stage productions, Alice was discovered by movie producers in New York, since this was the film capital at the time. Her first film was at the age of 22 when she starred in As Ye Sow
Matronly, grandmotherly character actress, in films 1935-47, best known as head nurse Molly Byrd in the "Dr. Kildare/Dr. Gillespie" films of the 1930s and '40s. 64 years old when she made her film debut in William Wyler's "These Three" in 1935, she lived to be 88, dying in 1960.
British character actress, long in the United States. The daughter of an actress and the granddaughter of a high-ranking politician, Lansbury studied acting from her youth, departing for the United States as the Second World War began. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated for an Academy Award for her first film...
“ She looked sweet, but somehow was not cast as a sweet girl -- surely, to everybody's advantage. ” - lora-31
Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas. She lived there until she was nine, when her mother left her philandering father and moved with Ann to Los Angeles, California. Even at that young age, she had to support her mother, who was hearing-impaired and unable to hold a job...
The daughter of a clergyman, Anna Lee was born Joan Boniface Winnifrith and encouraged to pursue an acting career by her father. After training at London's Royal Albert Hall, she took to the boards and later began appearing in English films, first as an extra, then working her way up to featured parts and finally earning the unofficial title "Queen of the Quota Quickies." Lee and her husband...
Anna May Wong
Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star, was born Wong Liu Tsong on January 3, 1905, in Los Angeles, California, to laundryman Wong Sam Sing and his wife, Lee Gon Toy. A third-generation American, she managed to have a substantial acting career during a deeply racist time when the taboo...
Veteran character actress Anne Revere became another in the long line of talented artists whose careers would crash under the weight of the "Red Scare" hysteria that tore through Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Born in Manhattan and a direct descendant of Revolutionary War figure Paul Revere, Anne graduated from Wellesley College, then trained for the stage at the American Laboratory Theatre...
One is certainly hard-pressed to think of another true "bad girl" representative so closely identifiable with film noir than hard-looking blonde actress Audrey Totter. While she remained a "B"-tier actress for most her career, she was an "A" quality actress and one of filmdom's most intriguing ladies. She always managed to set herself apart even in the most standard of programming...
“ One of top film noir ladies. ” - lora-31
Barbara Bel Geddes
Arguably best remembered for her role as Miss Ellie, the Ewing family matriarch on the long-running TV series Dallas
, Barbara Bel Geddes had earlier scored success on stage and screen long before gaining more lasting fame on television. Born in New York City on Halloween Day 1922, the daughter of noted theatrical and industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes
“ Madge in "Vertigo." Enough for immortality. ” - lora-31
Character actress Beulah Bondi was a favorite of directors and audiences and is one of the reasons so many films from the 1930s and 1940s remain so enjoyable, as she was an integral part of many of the ensemble casts (a hallmark of the studio system) of major and/or great films, including The Trail of the Lonesome Pine
“ Not only James Stewart's mother, though she played her four times in movies! ” - lora-31
Billie Burke was born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke on August 7, 1885 in Washington, D.C. Her father was the internationally famous clown, Billy Burke, and she would spend most of her early years touring Europe before the family settled in London. In 1903, she appeared on the stage as an actress and came to America in 1907 to star opposite John Drew in "My Wife"...
“ Mrs. Topper and a society lady in just about every MGM flick of the 1930s. ” - lora-31
Her early work, beginning at age 15, included milkmaid, nurse, chorus girl, dance hostess and a vaudeville rope-twirling act in which she was known as "Texas Binnie Barnes." Her acting debut, with Charles Laughton
, was in 1929 in Silver Tassie; her film debut was the English movie Night in Montmartre
. She did 26 comedy shorts with Stanley Lupino
“ Often cast as "the other woman," she actually quite often was much more interesting than her rivals. ” - lora-31
After her marriage to oil millionaire Jack Wrather
in 1947, she appeared in only three more movies. She became an executive in the Wrather Corp., and first associate producer, then executive producer of the Lassie
TV series. After Wrather's death in 1984, she took over as chairman of the board...
“ A somewhat annoying girlish presence. ” - lora-31
Carolyn Jones was born April 28, 1930, in Amarillo, Texas. Her mother was Jeannette and her sister was Bette (Moriarty). She was an imaginative child, much like her mother. In 1934, her father abandoned the family and her mother moved them in with her parents, also in Amarillo. As a child Carolyn suffered from severe asthma...
“ She was in "The Awful Truth." ” - lora-31
was an only child, born into a home where her mother was a painter and her father worked in insurance. She would study acting at the University of Chicago and make her stage debut in 1936. Her Broadway debut came when she was 19. She appeared in many successful plays, including "The Women"...
“ Oscar-winning wonder from The Gentleman's Agreement (boy, how I rooted for her, and yelled at the screen to Gregory Peck, "Don't be a fool, that's the girl for you!!!") and "All About Eve," to name just two. ” - lora-31
Daughter of Bretislav Lvovsky (1857-1910), a minor Czech opera composer, Celia was born in Vienna where she trained at the Royal Academy of Arts and Music. She was a rising stage star in Vienna and Berlin in 1929, when she met future husband Peter Lorre
. Celia accompanied the Jewish Lorre when he fled Hitler's Berlin to Vienna in 1933...
Claire Trevor was born Claire Wemlinger in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, NY, the only child of Fifth Avenue merchant-tailor Noel Wemlinger, an immigrant Frenchman from Paris who lost his business during the Depression, and his Belfast-born wife Betty. Trevor's interest in acting began when she was 11 years old...
“ A bad girl or a wronged girl -- this Oscar-winning darling is always exciting. ” - lora-31
Coleen Gray was born in Staplehurst, Nebraska, in 1922. After graduating from high school she studied dramatics at Hamline University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She then decided to see America and traveled to California, stopping off at La Jolla where she worked as a waitress. After several weeks there...
“ Watch "Sylvia Scarlett" -- and you will never forget her! ” - lora-31
She was a child prodigy and pianist at age 10, and her first movie role was as one of the children in "They Shall Have Music" (1939), in which you see her playing the piano. She made another movie using the name Dolly (a short version of her real name (Dolores) in "There's Magic in Music" (1941). She signed a long-term contract with Paramount in 1942 and had her name changed to Diana Lynn...
“ One of the *least* annoying child actors. ” - lora-31
Donna Reed was born in the midwestern town of Denison, Iowa, on January 27, 1921, as Donna Belle Mullenger. A small town - a population of less than 3,000 people - Denison was located by the Boyer River, and was the county seat of Crawford County. Donna grew up as a farm girl, much like many young girls in western Iowa...
“ From Here To Eternity and It's A Wonderful Life -- you know her. And she won an Oscar, too. ” - lora-31
Edna May Oliver
She was born Edna May Nutter, a child of solid New England stock, on 9th November 1883 in Malden, Massachusetts. The daughter of Ida May
and Charles Edward Nutter, Edna was a descendant of the 6th American president John Quincy Adams. Miss Oliver took an early interest in the stage, and she would quit school at the age of 14 to pursue her ambitions in the theater...
A dainty but nevertheless feisty character actress, southern-bred Elizabeth Patterson started her career over her strict parent's objections and became a member of Chicago's Ben Greet Players, performing Shakespeare at the turn of the century. This followed college at Martin College where she studied music...
Ella Raines was born in Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, in 1920. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at the University of Washington as a drama student and participated in many plays. Following graduation, she traveled to New York and the lights of Broadway. She was eventually signed by Howard Hawks
and played in Corvette K-225
as the love interest of Randolph Scott
“ A film noir princess. ” - lora-31
Ellen Hansen (aka Ellen Corby aka Grandma Walton) was born June 3, 1911 (or 1913), in Racine, WI. She grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and left for Hollywood in the early 1930s to become an actress, which she became only after working as a script assistant for twelve years. She appeared in over 25 uncredited or small character parts before taking the role of the lovelorn Aunt Trina...
“ She was in so many movies, but most of all I like her bit part in Vertigo, where she puts olive oil on rubber plants in a mysterious hotel. ” - lora-31
Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was born into an unconventional a family at the turn of the 20th century. Her parents, James "Shamus" Sullivan and Edith "Biddy" Lanchester, were socialists - very active members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) in a rather broad sense and did not believe in the institution of marriage and being tied to any conventions of legality for that matter...
“ You watch her for 15 seconds, and you will never forget her. ” - lora-31
Esther Dale was born on November 10, 1885 in Beaufort, South Carolina. She attended Leland and Gray Seminary in Townsend, Vermont, and then studied music in Berlin, Germany, and had a successful career as a lieder singer. Later, she became an actress in summer stock. She had the title role on Broadway of Carrie Nation in 1933...
Ethel Barrymore was the second of three children seemingly destined for the actor's life of their parents Maurice and Georgiana. Maurice Barrymore had emigrated from England in 1875, and after graduating from Cambridge in law had shocked his family by becoming an actor. Georgiana Drew of Philadelphia acted in her parents' stage company...
Eve was born just north of San Francisco in Mill Valley and was interested in show business from an early age. At 16, she made her stage debut after quitting school to joined a stock company. After appearing in minor roles in two films under her real name, Eunice Quedens, she found that the stage offered her the same minor roles...
“ A reliable woman's or man's best friend. Just ask Mildred Pierce or Paul Biegler. She was nominated for her part in "Mildred Pierce." ” - lora-31
No shrinking violet this one, but despite her talent, vivacity and sheer drive, lovely and alluring blonde Evelyn Keyes would remain for the most part typed as a "B" girl on the silver screen. In spite of her ripe contributions to such superior pictures as Here Comes Mr. Jordan
, The Jolson Story
, Mrs. Mike
“ Yes, I know she played leading parts, but she's not a leading actress in my book, 'coz she isn't quite of par with her leading men. ” - lora-31
Fay Bainter's career began as a child performer in 1898. For some time, she was a member of the traveling cast of the Morosco Stock Company in Los Angeles. In 1912, she made her Broadway debut in 'The Rose of Panama', but this and her subsequent play 'The Bridal Path' (1913), were conspicuous failures...
Flora Robson knew she was no beauty, but her wise and sympathetic face would become a familiar - indeed, shining - ornament of the 1930s and 40s silver screen. Though not sure of acting as a career in her early years, she nevertheless appeared on stage for the first time at 5 years old. She was educated...
The American character actress, Florence Rabe, was the daughter of an antique store owner. She gained a degree in Mathematics from the University of Texas in 1906 and went on to a career in teaching and social work. She changed course after being persuaded by a friend to study law, and, passing her bar exam in 1914...
Cold, calculating and hard-as-nails is probably the best definition of Gail Patrick's femmes on the 30s and 40s silver screen, and the actress herself was no softie in real life. The tall, slender, patrician beauty was born with the equally stately-sounding name Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick in Birmingham...
“ A unique combination of gorgeous looks and a knockout voice. She could give any leading lady a run for her money. ” - lora-31
Sly, manipulative, dangerously cunning and sinister were the key words that best described the roles that Gale Sondergaard played in motion pictures, making her one of the most talented character actresses ever seen on the screen. She was educated at the University of Minnesota and later married director Herbert J. Biberman
“ Was there a sultrier Chinese lady? Or a naughtier governor's wife? ” - lora-31
Gladys Cooper was the daughter of journalist William Frederick Cooper and his wife Mabel Barnett. As a child she was very striking and was used as a photographic model beginning at six years old. She wanted to become an actress and started on that road in 1905 after being discovered by Seymour Hicks to tour with his company in "Bluebell in Fairyland"...
“ Henry Higgins's mother, Charlotte Vale's mother... ” - lora-31
Hollywood character actress probably best known for her role as Miles Archer's wife in 'The Maltese Falcon'.
Gloria Hallward was born in Los Angeles, California. She was the daughter of Michael Hallward, an architect, and Jean MacDougall, an actress whose stage name was Jean Grahame. Her mother later became her acting coach. Descended from royalty--King Edward III through her father's side--she was bred for acting at an early age...
“ I always liked Gloria very much, but I started to deeply revere her ever since I watched that circus movie, where an elephant puts its foot close to her face. Wow, just... wow. ” - lora-31
“ Everybody knows this wonderful Oscar winner. ” - lora-31
Her father was a butcher. In 1913 she met and married matinée idol DeWolf Hopper Sr.
and in 1915 they moved to Hollywood, where both began active film careers. He became a star with Triangle Company, she began in vamp parts and turned to supporting roles. After her divorce she appeared in dozens of films...
Helen Broderick was a wonderfully funny character comedienne with vaudeville and stage experience, a close friend of Jeanne Eagels
. The story goes, that at the age of 14 she ran away from home, because her mother, who appeared in operatic comedy, was totally obsessed by the theatre. Paradoxically...
Helen Mack started her career in movies at the age of ten, and by the time she was 13 was performing in vaudeville. Her acting career didn't blossom until the 1930s, when she made a name for herself as one of the movie's best criers. She had many leading roles opposite such actors as Lee Tracy
Texas-born Helen Vinson was born Helen Rulfs in Beaumont on September 17, 1907, the daughter of an oil company exec. The family eventually settled in Houston, where her inflamed passion for acting was first ignited. While in her teens she married Harry N. Vickerman, a man fifteen years her senior who came from a well-to-do Philadelphia family...
Helen Walker was a beautiful and bright actress whose career never reached its full potential, in spite of her evident talent. She was a successful actress on Broadway, and in 1942 her performance in the play "Jason" was so impressive that she was signed up to act in films. She immediately earned good notice and received star billing in her film debut...
“ Nightmare Alley, Cluny Brown, Impact... ” - lora-31
Although there may have been "bigger" actresses in Hollywood's history, there were few "larger" than Hope Emerson. At 6' 2" and 230 pounds, she towered over many of her male co-stars, and her size, brusque voice and stern demeanor typed her for a career in villainous roles, such as her star turn as the sadistic prison matron in Caged
“ Watch Adam's Rib, and you will see her and never forget. ” - lora-31
One of Hollywood's more talented and watchable stars on screen was sullen, strikingly stick-thin 50s actress Jan Sterling who didn't quite reach the top echelon of stardom but certainly ensured audiences of a real good time with her sexy pout and flashy style in soaps, film noir and saucy comedy. Jan was born Jane Sterling Adriance in Manhattan in 1921 to a well-to-do family...
Missouri-born Jane Darwell was the daughter of a railroad president and grew up on a ranch in Missouri. She nursed ambitions to be an opera singer, but put it off because of her father's disapproval (she eventually changed her name to Darwell from the family name of Woodward so as not to "sully" the family name)...
“ Oscar winner who showed a really dark side in The Ox-Bow Incident. ” - lora-31
After graduating with two degrees (Arts and Music) from Mather College (Western Reserve) in Cleveland, Ohio in 1935, Janis headed to New York with aspirations of embarking on a musical career in opera. Supporting herself by waitressing, singing in churches, modeling (Conover) and writing radio scripts...
Jeanne Crain was born in Barstow, California, on May 25, 1925. The daughter of a high school English teacher and his wife, Jeanne was moved to Los Angeles not long after her birth after her father got another teaching position in that city. While in junior high school, Jeanne played the lead in a school production which set her on the path to acting...
“ One of the most annoying actresses in my book. ” - lora-31
Jessie Ralph was a sailor's daughter, who first came to the stage at the age of 16, performing with a stock company in either Boston, Massachusetts, or Providence, Rhode Island (accounts differ). The year was 1880, and it took Jessie another 26 years to make her debut on the Great White Way in "The Kreutzer Sonata"...
Jessie Royce Landis
Jessie Royce Landis was called "an international star" in her New York Times obituary. She was 20 when she made her stage debut at the Playhouse in Chicago as the young countess in "The Highwayman". Soon she was on Broadway. In 1950 she went to London for "Larger Than Life", a dramatization of W. Somerset Maugham
“ Another wonderful English lady: Cary Grant's mother in North by Northwest and Grace Kelly's mother in To Catch a Thief and The Swan. ” - lora-31
Josephine Sherwood changed her name after marrying stage actor Shelly Hull
in 1910. She studied drama at Radcliffe College -- much to the dismay of her parents -- and first worked on the stage in a stock company in Boston. Her husband died in 1919, aged 35, of Spanish influenza. Josephine left the...
“ "Harvey" and "Arsenic and Old Lace" -- enough for you to know her. ” - lora-31
Dame Judith Anderson was born Frances Margaret Anderson on February 10, 1897 in Adelaide, South Australia. She began her acting career in Australia before moving to New York in 1918. There she established herself as one of the greatest theatrical actresses and was a major star on Broadway throughout the 1930s...
“ My favorite English lady. ” - lora-31
“ She was in love with all the professors in "Ball of Fire," and she cooked chicken livers in "Laura" (actually I started to cook them because of her!). ” - lora-31
“ Aunt Pitty. ” - lora-31
Lee Patrick could play a tough, scrapping, hard-bitten dame as she did in the gritty women's prison drama Caged
, or the meek and twittery socialite wife as exemplified as Doris Upson in the freewheeling farce Auntie Mame
. The versatile character actress had plenty of places to go in films and TV and she did...
“ Sam Spade's wisecracking secretary and girl pal in "The Maltese Falcon." ” - lora-31
Lillian Diana Gish was born on October 14, 1893 in Springfield, Ohio. Her father James Lee Gish was an alcoholic who caroused around, was rarely at home and left the family to more or less to fend for themselves. To help make ends meet, Lillian, her sister Dorothy Gish
and their mother Mary Gish
“ After being a leading lady in her youth, she became a supporting player in her later years. ” - lora-31
Unsmiling character player Lucile Watson was one of Hollywood's most indomitable mothers of the 1930s and 1940s...and you can take that both ways. The archetypal matriarch who enhanced scores of plush, soapy, Victorian-styled drama, her prickly pears could be insufferable indeed and heaven help anyone who gathered up the courage to take them on...
“ She was in "The Women," "Waterloo Bridge," "The Razor's Edge," and so many other woderful films. ” - lora-31
Quite a familiar lady and notorious busybody on 1950s and '60s TV and film, petite, red-headed character actress Lurene Tuttle was born in Pleasant Lake, Indiana and raised on a ranch close to the Arizona border. Her father, O.V. Tuttle, started out as a performer in minstrels but found a job as a railroad station agent when times got hard...
A curvaceous, dark-haired WWII pin-up beauty (aka "The Woo Woo Girl" and "The Girl with the Million Dollar Figure"), "B" film star Lynn Bari had the requisite looks and talent but few of the lucky breaks needed to penetrate the "A" rankings during her extensive Hollywood career. Nevertheless, some worthy performances of hers stand out in late-night viewings...
Margaret Dumont would probably consider it a tragedy that she is best-known for her performances as the ultimate straight woman in seven of the Marx Brothers' films (including most of their best). By all accounts she never understood their jokes (offscreen and on), which is of course a major reason why she's so funny...
Margaret Hamilton was Born December 9, 1902 in Cleveland, Ohio to Jennie and Walter Hamilton. She later attended Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and practiced acting doing children's theater while a Junior League of Cleveland member. Margaret had already built her resume with several performances in film before she came to her most memorable and astronomically successful role...
Margaret Wycherly was born in London, England on October 26, 1881. She was predominately a stage actress, continuing stage work even after performing in films. Her first film role came when she appeared in The Fight
at 34 years old. It was not until 1929 that audiences got another glimpse of her in The Thirteenth Chair
“ Sgt. York's and Cody Jarrett's mother -- could there be two more different sons? ” - lora-31
The daughter of a lawyer, Ouspenskaya studied singing at the Warsaw Conservatory and acting at Adasheff's School of the Drama in Moscow. She received her practical training as an actress touring in the Russian provinces. She later joined the Moscow Art Theatre. It was here that she first worked under the direction of the great Konstantin Stanislavski
“ "The Rains Came," "Love Affair," "Waterloo Bridge" -- this croaking Russian could give formidable screen presence, but also could go warm, if the part required. ” - lora-31
A product of Marysvale, Utah, Marie Windsor attended Brigham Young University and trained for the stage under Maria Ouspenskaya
before she began playing leading roles in B pictures in the late 1940s. Her best work was in the "film noir" category, most notably her role as the manipulative, double-crossing...
“ A noir grande dame. ” - lora-31
Her father was a minister, and when she joined a local stock company as a youngster she changed her name to avoid embarrassing her family. She worked in vaudeville and debuted on Broadway in 1916. Her film debut was in A House Divided
. She repeated her stage role in Dead End
as Baby Face Martin (Humphrey Bogart
“ A no-nonsense Ma Kettle. And many other no-nonsense women. A hoot in everything. And she was in The Women, duh. ” - lora-31
Born July 15, 1889 in San Francisco, unappreciated character player Marjorie Rambeau worked on the stage from the age of 12. In the 1910s and 1920s, she became a prominent Broadway lead, noted for her serene beauty, elegant poise and touching theatrics. Around the same time she made a few silent films that went nowhere...
Stardom somehow eluded this vastly gifted actress. Had it not perhaps been for her low-level profile compounded by her McCarthy-era blacklisting in the early 1950s, there is no telling what higher tier Marsha Hunt might have attained. Perhaps her work was not flashy enough, or too subdued, or perhaps her intelligence too often disguised a genuine sex appeal to stand out among the other lovelies...
Mary Astor was born, Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke, on May 3, 1906 in Quincy, Illinois to a German immigrant father, Otto Ludwig Langhanke, and an American mother from Illinois, Helen Marie Vasconcellos, of Portuguese and Irish ancestry. Her parents were very ambitious for her as they recognized Mary's beauty and knowing if they played their cards right...
“ One of my most favorite actresses. She as superb in everything -- from "Dodsworth" to "The Maltese Falcon" to "Desert Fury" (to name just three of my favorite movies with her). ” - lora-31
Lively, buxom character actress Mary Boland made a name for herself playing vacuous or pixillated motherly types during the 1930's. One of her most memorable performances was as the addle-brained Mrs. Rimplegar of Three Cornered Moon
, who gives away her family fortune to a swindler because he seemed like 'such a nice young man'...
When her Hollywood career began in 1934, Mary Nash was already a veteran performer, having appeared in vaudeville and on Broadway. Following a brief appearance as a dancer in 1904, she joined Ethel Barrymore
in a 1905 off- Broadway production, 'Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire'. This was followed by 'Captain Jinks' and 'The Silver Box' with the same company...
“ She was not always motherly, but could play fierce, too. ” - lora-31
Brunette, convent-educated Mary Philips was an accomplished actress on the New York stage by the time she met the actor Humphrey Bogart
in 1924 and became his 'speakeasy touring companion'. While both encouraged each other's prodigious affinity for alcohol, Mary proved beneficial in getting Bogie to approach his craft more seriously...
About as reliable as one could ever find, character actress Mary Treen was a familiar face to most and could always be counted on to bring a bit of levity to any film scene. A minor actress for much of her career, she managed to secure a plain, unassuming niche for herself in 40s, 50s and 60s Hollywood...
From the grand old school of wisecracking, loud and lanky Mary Wickes had few peers while forging a career as a salty scene-stealer. Her abrupt, tell-it-like-it-is demeanor made her a consistent audience favorite on every medium for over six decades. She was particularly adroit in film parts that chided the super rich or exceptionally pious...
Maureen Paula O'Sullivan was born on May 17, 1911 in County Roscommon, Ireland, to Evangeline "Mary Eva" Lovatt (Frazer) and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in the Connaught Rangers. She was of Irish, English, and Scottish descent. The future mother of Mia Farrow was educated in private Catholic girls schools in London...
“ I find her one of the most annoying actresses. The nagging wife in "The Big Clock" -- I mean, you have Ray Milland for the husband, just shut up! A clinging nurse in "Where Danger Lives" -- Robert Mitchum would be better off ALONE! Get away from Robert Taylor in "Yank at Oxford"! I do not like "The Thin Man" because of her whining presence. And a black-haired and flirting Jane in "Pride and Prejudice"? Seriously?! ” - lora-31
Born Mary Jeanette Robison. She was the youngest daughter of Henry Robison of Penrith, Cumberland, England and Julia Schelesinger of Liverpool, Lancashire, England. Her father died in 1860 and her mother remarried. In 1866/67 they were living in St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and moved back to London...
“ Apple Annie. And the aunt in Bringing Up Baby. And she was in Letty Lynton, which you probably haven't seen (but I have!). ” - lora-31
Dame May Whitty
Born Mary Whitty on June 19, 1865 to a Liverpool newspaper editor and his wife, she became known as May Whitty to the world. She first stepped on the London stage in 1882. She worked as an understudy at the St. James Theatre, and then, began playing leading roles when she joined a traveling stock company...
“ The lady who vanishes. And many other unforgettable ladies who will never vanish from your memory. ” - lora-31
Petite American character actress who was celebrated for her definitive portrayal of long-suffering Linda Loman in Arthur Miller
's "Death of a Salesman", a part she played opposite Lee J. Cobb
at the Morosco Theatre for 742 consecutive performances between 1949 and 1950. Mildred recreated her...
A professional model while still in high school, Mona Freeman was signed to a movie contract by Howard Hughes
, who then proceeded to sell her contract to Paramount. Starting out in typical juvenile parts, she developed into a very competent actress. As she worked her way out of the teenage ingénue role...
A leading lady of the 1940s, the tall and blonde Foch usually played cool, aloof and often foreign, women of sophistication. As film roles became harder to find, Foch proved to be versatile in many areas. She was a panelist on several TV quiz shows, worked as George Stevens
' assistant director for The Diary of Anne Frank
and directed plays...
The daughter of a retired sea captain and his much-younger wife, actress Norma Varden was born and raised in turn-of-the-century London. A piano prodigy, she studied in Paris and appeared in concert in England during her teenage years. Acting, however, became her career of choice, studying at the Guildhall School of Music...
“ She was the rightful owner of the diamond tiara in "Gentlemen Love Blondes." ” - lora-31
A native-born Californian, Rhonda Fleming attended Beverly Hills public and private schools. Her mother, Effie Graham, was a famous model and actress in New York. She has a son (Kent Lane
), two granddaughters (Kimberly and Kelly) and four great-grandchildren (Wagner, Page, Lane and Cole). She has appeared in over 40 films...
“ She was in "Out of the Past" and in the color film noir "Inferno" (1953). ” - lora-31
Rita Johnson was born on 8/13/13 in Worcester Ma. She attended the New England Conservatory of Music, did summer stock, then moved on to Broadway in 1935. She was an extremely versatile actress, who played virtually every type of role. Unfortunately, her career came to a halt in 1948 when a hair dryer fell on her head causing brain damage...
“ She was in "The Big Clock." ” - lora-31
Feisty, ebullient character comedienne who, for three decades, enlivened Hollywood films with her drollery and quick-fire repartee. The daughter of a newspaper editor and music critic, Ruth made her stage debut in the chorus of the touring production 'The Quaker Girl' in 1913. Four years later, she had made it to Broadway...
“ She was just about in any 1930s movie with Jean Arthur. But not only. ” - lora-31
A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Drama, Ruth Hussey's first show-business job was as a fashion commentator on a local radio station. She journeyed to New York City, where she was signed as a model by the world-famous Powers agency. She obtained some stage roles with touring companies and was noticed by MGM...
“ A blue-eyed brunette -- yummy! Yes, I know she starred in a few movies, and she was in The Women, but my fave performance of hers in The Philadelphia Story, of course. ” - lora-31
Ruth Roman was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the youngest of three daughters of Lithuanian-Jewish parents, Mary Pauline (Gold) and Abraham Roman. Her father, a carnival barker, died when she was a small child, forcing her mother to support the family by working as a waitress and cleaning woman. Ruth grew up in the poor tenement district of Boston...
Dublin-born Sara Allgood started her acting career in her native country with the famed Abbey Theatre. From there she traveled to the English stage, where she played for many years before making her film debut in 1918. Her warm, open Irish face meant that she spent a lot of time playing Irish mothers...
“ "How Green Was My Valley," "The Lodger," "Roxie Hart." ” - lora-31
Character actress Shirley Booth could play everything in all facets of show business, whether it was a smart-mouthed cashier on radio's "Duffy's Tavern", the sassy maid on TV's Hazel
or the pathetic woman in Come Back, Little Sheba
. For those who only know her through her sitcom, it might be hard to believe she was a seasoned theatrical veteran...
The possessor of one of Hollywood's gentlest faces and warmest voices, and about as sweet as Tupelo honey both on-and-off camera, character actress Spring Byington was seldom called upon to play callous or unsympathetic (she did once play a half-crazed housekeeper in Dragonwyck
). Although playing the part of Mrs...