Some of the greatest character actresses in the movies and tv according to santarosie.

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Elsa Lanchester
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...
Reta Shaw
Actress, Mary Poppins
Reta Shaw is best known to television audiences as Hope Lange's housekeeper in the TV series The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. Disney fans will remember her as one of the singing domestics in the Oscar-winning masterpiece Mary Poppins. While she never achieved stardom as a leading lady, she earned her place as a solid supporting player in a variety of popular...
Lucille Benson
Actress, Duel
Lucille Benson was a plump, distinctive, and marvelously quirky character actress with a heavy down-home Southern accent who portrayed an offbeat and enjoyable array of colorful supporting dotty old lady roles in both films and TV shows alike. Benson was born on July 17, 1914 in Scottsboro, Alabama...
Verna Felton
Actress, Cinderella
Verna Felton had extensive experience on the stage and in radio before she broke into film and television. Her trademarks was her distinctive husky voice and her no-nonsense attitude. She was quite in demand for voiceover work, as evidenced by her roles in Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Lady and the Tramp...
Mary Wickes
Actress, Sister Act
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...
Marjorie Main
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)'s mother...
Hermione Gingold
Actress, Gigi
One of stage, screen, radio and TV's most delightful, inimitable eccentrics, Hermione Ferdinanda Gingold was born the daughter of an upscale Austrian financier and English homemaker. She made her stage debut in 1908, thus beginning a long, commanding presence in London playing everything from Jessica...
Bea Benaderet
Bea Benaderet had a remarkable career in radio and television. In the earlier days of radio, before television, she provided the voice for numerous names of characters on the radio, on shows like "Fibber McGee and Molly," "My Favorite Husband" with Lucille Ball & the Jack Benny Show. She was...
Ellen Corby
Actress, The Waltons
Ellen Corby was born Ellen Hansen on June 3, 1911, in Racine, Wisconsin. She began her career as a bit player in the film Speed Limited in 1940. Ellen would not be seen on the big screen again until 1945 in Cornered. In 1946, she appeared in 14 films, although mostly in small, minor roles. One of them was in the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life...
Eve Arden
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...
Conchata Ferrell
It took 30 years since it was first predicted, but Conchata Ferrell finally achieved television stardom, albeit of the supporting variety, as the housekeeper "Berta" in the situation-comedy Two and a Half Men. Ferrell originally had been tipped for stardom with her turn as the prostitute "April" in the Norman Lear-produced series Hot L Baltimore...
Margaret Hamilton
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...
Mildred Natwick
A disarming character lady quite capable of scene-stealing, Mildred Natwick was a well-rounded talent with distinctively dowdy features and idiosyncratic tendencies who, over a six-decade period, assembled together a number of unforgettable matrons on stage and (eventually) film and TV. Whimsical, feisty...
Irene Tedrow
Denver-born supporting actress Irene Tedrow is another in a long line of "I know the face...but not the name" character actors whose six-decade career was known more for its durability than for the greatness of roles she played. Born in 1907, she was a lady primarily of the stage, beginning her acting career as a teen...
Thelma Ritter
Actress, Rear Window
Thelma Ritter appeared in high school plays and was trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In the 1940s she worked in radio. Her movie career was started with a bit part in the 1946 Miracle on 34th Street. In the movie she played a weary Xmas shopper. Her performance in the short scene was noticed by Darryl F. Zanuck who insisted her role be expanded...
Spring Byington
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...
Pert Kelton
Actress, The Music Man
Vaudevillain, Broadway player and, for one decade from 1929, screen actress often in comedic roles. She also appeared in character parts in a handful of 60s films. She is memorable as the original - and the most believable - Alice Kramden, wife of Ralph Kramden (immortalized by Jackie Gleason), in TV's "The Honeymooners." Kelton's performances took place (ca...
Ruth McDevitt
Actress, The Birds
Delightfully daffy and an apple dumpling of a darling, wizened character actress Ruth McDevitt was born Ruth Shoecraft in Michigan but raised in Ohio where her father served as a county sheriff. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Art with designs of becoming an actress but married a Florida widower soon after and put full focus on being a wife...
Frances Bavier
Frances Bavier was born in New York City on December 14, 1902. Her first Broadway appearance was in April 1925 in "The Poor Nut", the start of a successful Broadway career. She traveled with the USO to entertain the U.S. troops in the Pacific during World War II. Her last appearance on Broadway was in the 1951 play, "Point of No Return" starring Henry Fonda. It ran for 356 performances...
Anne Seymour
The daughter of a copper expert (William Stanley Eckert) and an actress and museum curator (May Davenport), character actress Anne Seymour was born on September 11, 1909 in New York City. She was the seventh generation of a theatrical family that could be tracked back to Ireland in 1740. Her great-uncle...
Gale Sondergaard
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...