Edit
Edna May Oliver Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (7) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Malden, Massachusetts, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (intestinal disorder)
Birth NameEdna May Nutter
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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.

Despite abandoning traditional schooling, Edna continued to study the performing arts, including speech and piano. One of her first jobs was as pianist with an all female orchestra which toured America around the turn of the century. By 1917 she had achieved success on Broadway in the hit play "Oh, Boy". By 1923 she had appeared in her first film. Edna May Oliver seems to have been born to play the classics of American and British literature. Some of her most memorable film roles were in adaptations of works of Charles Dickens. Although some have described her as plain or "horse faced", Edna May Oliver's comedic talents lent a beautiful droll warmth to her characters. She was usually called upon to play less glamorous roles such as a spinsters, but she played them with such soul, wit, and depth that to this day she remains one of the best loved of Hollywood's character actresses. A fine example of her comedic talent can be found in Laugh and Get Rich (1931). Here we find her playing a role almost autobiographical in nature, that of a proud woman with Boston roots who has married "down". As the plot unwinds, she is invited to a society gala despite her modest circumstances. At the gala she becomes tipsy. With a frolicsome air Edna May seems to use the role to gently mock her real self. Her slightly drunk character seizes upon a bit of flattery, and alluding to her old New England family, proudly proclaims to each who will listen, "I am a Cranston. That explains everything!". In real life, Edna May Oliver was a Nutter, and perhaps that explains everything. Edna May Oliver married stock broker David Pratt in 1928, but the marriage ended in divorce five years later. In 1939 she received an Oscar nomination for her supporting role as Widow McKlennar in the picture Drums Along the Mohawk (1939). That was to be one of her last films. Miss Oliver was struck ill in August of 1942. Although she seemed to recover briefly, she was re-admitted to Los Angeles's Cedars of Lebanon hospital in October Her dear friend actress Virginia Hammond flew out from New York to stay by her bedside. Edna May Oliver died on her 59th birthday, 9th November 1942. Virginia Hammond was with her and said, "She died without ever being aware of the gravity of her condition. She just went peacefully asleep."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Thomas McWilliams <tgm@netcom.com>

Spouse (1)

David Welford Pratt (24 January 1928 - 10 August 1931) (divorced)

Trivia (7)

Interred at Forest Lawn (Glendale), Glendale, California, USA, in the Great Mausoleum, Columbarium of Security.
Edna May Oliver was often parodied in Warner Brothers cartoons of the 30s due to her distinctive face.
In her main films her character was often that of an outspoken aunt.
She was a direct descendant of John Quincy Adams.
Biography in "Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties" by Axel Nissen.
The actress's best friends were actors Grant Mitchell and Franklyn Pangborne and they were often guests at her home for dinner.
Died on her birthday, November 9.

Personal Quotes (2)

[when asked one day why, since she possessed a fine singing voice, she never went into musicals or opera] What? With a horse face like mine? What else can I do but play comedy?
Oh yes, I'm grateful in a way for this face, now that I've gotten used to it. I know it's brought me this success. I know it's given me the chance to make and save enough money so I won't spend the end of my days in an old ladies' home somewhere. But all the same I'm a woman, and what woman doesn't long to be beautiful?

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page