Erich von Stroheim
Erich von Stroheim was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in 1885, in Vienna, Austria, to Johanna (Bondy), from Prague, and Benno Stroheim, a hatmaker from Gliwice, Poland. His family was Jewish. After spending some time working in his father's hat factory, he emigrated to America around 1909. Working in various jobs he arrived in Hollywood in 1914 and got work in D.W...
“ Arguably the most famous butler of the screen. Max in 'Sunset Boulevard'. ” - christopherbkk
“ Arguably the most famous maid of the screen. Mammie in 'Gone With The Wind' and several other maid roles. ” - christopherbkk
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...
“ Agnes Moorehead is one of the greatest hollywood actresses of all time, and one of her greatest roles was a Velma the maid to Bette Davis in 'Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte'. ” - christopherbkk
Respected character actor whose on-screen work included everything from Shakespeare to Dick Tracy
(his last film). After a long apprenticeship in the theatre, the 38-year-old Wolfe finally debuted in films in The Barretts of Wimpole Street
, recreating his Broadway role. He then toiled away steadily in Hollywood for the next several decades...
“ Played several butlers, but I always assumed he was Charles Laughton's valet in 'Witness For The Prosecution'. ” - christopherbkk
Thelma McQueen attended public school in Augusta, Georgia and graduated from high school in Long Island, New York. She studied dance with Katherine Dunham
, Geoffrey Holder
, and Janet Collins
. She danced with the Venezuela Jones Negro Youth Group. The "Butterfly" stage name, which does describe her constantly moving arms...
“ One of the most famous lines in movie history came from a maid. "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies, Miss Scarlet." ” - christopherbkk
1930s and 1940s film actress Louise Beavers was merely one of a dominant gallery of plus-sized and plus-talented African-American character actresses forced to endure blatant, discouraging and demeaning stereotypes during Depression-era and WWII Hollywood. It wasn't until Louise's triumphant role in...
“ In 1932 played three maids, Matilda the maid opposite housekeeper Marie Dressler in 'Emma', the hotel maid opposite Barbara Stanwyck in 'The Purchase Price and Hattie in 'The First Year' in which she, as a white actress, appeared in blackface. ” - christopherbkk
Ann B. Davis
Ann B. Davis made her debut in show business at age 6 earning $2.00 in a puppet show. At the University of Michigan, Anne planned to study medicine but got the acting bug from her brother who was the lead dancer in the national company of "Oklahoma" for over a year. Anne then spent six years in little theaters...
“ The center square in 'The Brady Bunch' who often held the family together. ” - christopherbkk
“ Family Affair ” - christopherbkk
Maidie Norman was born Maidie Ruth Gamble on October 16, 1912, in Villa Rica, Georgia, to Louis and Lila Gamble. She received a B.A. from Bennett College in 1934 and a master's degree from Columbia University three years later. She also attended the Actors Lab in Hollywood from 1946 to 1949. Norman first appeared on film in The Peanut Man in 1947...
“ Housekeeper to Bette Davis and Joan Crawford who's too nosey for her own good in 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?' and was Olivia deHavilland's Lady's Maid in 'Airport 77'. ” - christopherbkk
Isabel Sanford was born in the Harlem section of New York, the youngest of seven children and sadly, the only one to survive infancy. Young Isabel always wanted to act. Her mother was against the idea, so she sneaked out of the house to perform in nightclubs. Despite winning third place in an amateur contest at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem...
“ Stole scenes in her first movie role opposite Sidney Poitier, with Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn, in 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?' ” - christopherbkk
Sir John Gielgud is a highly distinguished and prolific performer who is considered to be one of the finest actors of his generation. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, Gielgud played his first Hamlet in 1930 and quickly established himself as one of the most eminent Shakespearean interpreters of his time...
“ I am sure John Gielgud has played the only valet to win an Academy Award. He also played valet to the victim in 'Murder On The Orient Express'. ” - christopherbkk
Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. Mirren attended St...
“ The only life she had was to serve others in 'Gosford Park', including committing murder to save her son from committing murder ” - christopherbkk
“ I don't think she actually had a line in the movie, but everyone remembers Trudy from 'Titanic'. ” - christopherbkk
The attractive daughter of Austrian-Jewish émigrés who fled their homeland to Paris in 1937 before coming to America, "B" actress Vanessa Brown grew up exceptionally fluent in German, French, Italian and English. She auditioned for Lillian Hellman
at age 13 sporting a perfect Teutonic accent and earned...
“ Played a minor role of a maid in the film "The Heiress" starring Oscar-winner Olivia de Havilland. Interestingly, she played the de Havilland part on radio a few years later. ” - christopherbkk
Theodore Crawford "Ted" Cassidy was born on July 31, 1932 in Pittsburgh, PA, and raised in Philippi, WV. In his youth, Cassidy was academically gifted, beginning high school at an early age, and he was also on the basketball and football teams. Despite this, he was a frequent target of bullying by his much-older classmates...
“ Lurch in 'The Addams Family' needs no introduction. ” - christopherbkk
This Arkansas native was born on 26 November 1945 to parents who owned a movie theater. He often felt that his desire to become an actor came from the fact that he spent so much time in the theater's "crying room" for babies - and listening to the likes of Tyrone Power
and others. His first "professional"...
“ Niles in 'The Nanny' ” - christopherbkk
This Milwaukee native was born in 1926, where she was raised on a farm, with her two sisters (Beverly, Mimi), with Charlotte being the second of her three. Rae wanted to be a dramatic actress, but eventually wound up being a comedienne, all because of her stand-up comedy routines. After graduating from high school...
“ Mrs. Garrett in 'Diff'rent Strokes'. ” - christopherbkk
“ The voice of the only mechanical maid I can think of, Rosie the Robot Maid in 'The Jetsons'. ” - christopherbkk
Inimitable London-born character actor, noted for his put-on nasal delivery and pompous, fussy manner. Richard Haydn had a laborious start to his show business career, selling tickets in the box office of London's Daly Theatre. This was followed by an unsuccessful stint with a comedy act in musical revue...
“ The butler and forth victim in 'And Then There Were None' ” - christopherbkk
Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, a former maid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner, barber, and city councilman. While Winfrey has been cited as the richest African American of the 20th century, she does not come from a rich, or even middle class, family...
“ Sofia didn't take kindly to the mayor's wife saying, "Would you like to be my maid?", in 'The Colour Purple'. ” - christopherbkk
“ Played the cranky but hilarious housekeeper to Norma Varden in 'Witness For The Prosecution' who tried to have Tyrone Power sent to jail. ” - christopherbkk
Ryan Phillippe was born on September 10, 1974 in New Castle, Delaware, to Susan (Thomas), a nurse, and Richard Phillippe, a chemical technician. He has three sisters, Kirsten, Lindsay, and Katelyn, and attended New Castle Baptist Academy. Ryan's acting career began with the soap opera One Life to Live
“ The valet who wasn't really a valet in 'Gosford Park. ” - christopherbkk
Seasoned London-born character actor, who had a lengthy career in American films and on television. The son of an Anglo-Italian music professor, Cyril also had a secondary career in Hollywood as a respected drama coach, engaged by Douglas Fairbanks
, James Craig
, and others. He appears to have divided the remainder of his time between films and the stage...
“ The butler in the background was the only one who knew what Bette Davis was really up to in 'Dead Ringer'. ” - christopherbkk
Best known for the role of Florida Evans on the 1970s sitcoms "Maude" and "Good Times," African-American actress Esther Rolle proved to be as spirited and iron-willed off-camera as well. The gap-toothed actress with the gravelly voice was born in Pompano Beach, Florida, the 10th child of 18 born to Caribbean farming immigrants...
“ Maid Florida Evans on the hit 70s sitcoms 'Maude' and 'Good Times'. ” - christopherbkk
“ Esther Rolles' real life sister was Estelle Evans who was another fictional maid. Estelle Evans was Calpurnia in 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. ” - christopherbkk
Embeth Davidtz was born on August 11, 1965 in Lafayette, Indiana. She is known for her role as Miss Honey in the film Matilda
. Her parents, Jean and John Davidtz, were South Africans, with Dutch, English, and French ancestry. The family moved to Trenton, New Jersey, before returning to her parents' native country...
“ Imprisoned Jew Helen Hirsch had to become the maid for the concentration camp's Commandant in a very memorable performance. ” - christopherbkk
“ Not sure what his actual working title would have been. Let's just say he was the hilarious and camp personal assistant to Anne Bancroft in 'To Be Or Not To Be'. ” - christopherbkk
One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor Robert Stephens
and to playwright Beverley Cross
“ Maggie Smith plays any role perfectly, and that includes her memorable role as Bette Davis' servant in 'Death On The Nile' ” - christopherbkk
Very little is known about Alice Nunn with the exception that she appeared in one of the 1980s most famous films, Pee-wee's Big Adventure
, as the infamous truck driver, 'Large Marge'. Alice E. Nunn was born on October 10, 1927 in Jacksonville, Florida to parents N.G. Nunn and Alice Bush. She eventually made her way westward...
“ Sometimes the smallest of roles can be memorable. Alice Nunn was Helga the maid who got blasted by Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) in Mommie Dearest. Actually, she wasn't mad at Helga, she was mad at the dirt. ” - christopherbkk
Born in Brooklyn, Bergere began his career in 1936 as understudy to Danny Kaye
in the Broadway production of "Lady in the Dark", with Gertrude Lawrence
. His television debut was with James Dean
in the live production of "Thunder on Sycamore Street". A World War II veteran, he was in charge of entertainment services for soldiers serving in North Africa...
“ He was quite a significant member of the cast, playing majordomo "Joseph Anders" in the 1980s television series "Dynasty". ” - christopherbkk
Jennifer Lynn Lopez was born in the Castle Hill section of the South Bronx on July 24, 1969. She is the middle of three musically-inclined sisters, Leslie Lopez
, a homemaker, and Lynda Lopez
(aka Lynda Lopez), a DJ on New York's WKTU, a VH1 VJ, and a morning news show correspondent on New York's Channel 11...
“ Not often is a hotel maid the leading role, but it was in 'Maid in Manhatten'. ” - christopherbkk
Sandra Dee was born Alexandria Zuck on April 23, 1942 in Bayonne, New Jersey, to Mary (Cymboliak) and John Zuck. She was of Carpatho-Rusyn descent. Her mother envisioned a show business career for her daughter and would often lie about her age in order to get Sandy where she wanted to go. For example...
“ Another maid with a leading role, this time a maid-for-hire in 'That Funny Feeling'. ” - christopherbkk
Alan Napier was born on January 7, 1903 in King Norton, Worcestershire, England. Tall, distinguished-looking English character actor with aristocratic bearing and precisely modulated voice. A cousin of the former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and spent his formative years as an actor with Oxford Repertory and...
“ There have been a lot of Alfreds in versions of Batman, but the most memorable man servant of Batman would have to be Alan Napier opposite Adam West in the first movie. (Others have included Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Michael Gough and Michael Caine). ” - christopherbkk
“ Cato was the unforgettable valet to Inspector Clouseau. ” - christopherbkk
“ I didn't know of this guy as I never watched The Fresh Price of Bel Air but it was memorable enough for a comment from ssgv so I add him in. ” - christopherbkk
Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), a maid and factory worker...
“ Aibeleen the maid in The Help (2011) ” - christopherbkk
Spencer is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, which she claims is the proverbial buckle of the Bible belt. She's the sixth of seven siblings and holds a BS in Liberal Arts from Auburn University. A "closet" lover of acting, this practical Alabamian knew that she'd someday work in the film industry, but never dreamed it would be in front of the camera...
“ Minny the Maid in The Help (2012) ” - christopherbkk
Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Mary Hester "Bettine" (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close
), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families. Glenn...
“ Albert Nobbs the butler in Albert Nobbs (20120 ” - christopherbkk
Roderick McDowall was born in London, the son of a Merchant Mariner father and a mother who had always wanted to be in movies. He was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his first film, Murder in the Family
, playing Peter Osborne, the younger brother of sisters played by Jessica Tandy
and Glynis Johns
“ Played butler roles is several movies. ” - christopherbkk
Alec Guinness de Cuffe was born on April 2, 1914 in Marylebone, London, England, and was raised by his mother, Agnes Cuffe. While working in advertising, he studied at the Fay Compton
Studio of Dramatic Art, debuting on stage in 1934 and played classic theater with the Old Vic from 1936. In 1941...
“ Surprising that this legendary actor would play in a comedy, but to play a butler! However, Sir Alec was hilarious as a blind butler in the all star cast of 'Murder By Death'. ” - christopherbkk