Memorable butlers, maids or similar of TV/film

by christopherbkk | created - 11 Aug 2011 | updated - 24 Apr 2014 | Public

This is not the be-all-and-end-all listing every maid or butler or servant in movie/TV history. I am going for, what I think, are the more memorable ones. As I think of other memorable butlers, maids or similar of the movies or TV I will add them in.

1. Erich von Stroheim

Actor | Sunset Blvd.

Erich von Stroheim was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in 1885, in Vienna, Austria, to Johanna (Bondy), from Prague, and Benno Stroheim, a hatter from Gleiwitz, Germany (now Gliwice, Poland). His family was Jewish.

After spending some time working in his father's hat factory, he emigrated to America ...

Arguably the most famous butler of the screen. Max in 'Sunset Boulevard'.

2. Hattie McDaniel

Actress | Gone with the Wind

After working as early as the 1910s as a band vocalist, Hattie McDaniel debuted as a maid in The Golden West (1932). Her maid-mammy characters became steadily more assertive, showing up first in Judge Priest (1934) and becoming pronounced in Alice Adams (1935). In this one, directed by George ...

Arguably the most famous maid of the screen. Mammie in 'Gone With The Wind' and several other maid roles.

3. Agnes Moorehead

Actress | Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Agnes was born of Anglo/Irish ancestry 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 ...

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'.

4. Ian Wolfe

Actor | Witness for the Prosecution

Respected character actor whose on-screen work included everything from Shakespeare to Dick Tracy (1990) (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 (1934), recreating his Broadway role. He then toiled...

Played several butlers, but I always assumed he was Charles Laughton's valet in 'Witness For The Prosecution'.

5. Butterfly McQueen

Actress | Gone with the Wind

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 ...

One of the most famous lines in movie history came from a maid. "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies, Miss Scarlet."

6. Louise Beavers

Actress | Imitation of Life

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 ...

7. Leila Bennett

Actress | Taxi!

Leila Bennett was born on November 17, 1892 in Newark, New Jersey, USA. She was an actress, known for Taxi (1931), Doctor X (1932) and Mark of the Vampire (1935). She was married to Francis M. (Frank) Keough. She died on January 5, 1965 in New York, New York, USA.

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.

8. Ann B. Davis

Actress | The Brady Bunch

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 ...

The center square in 'The Brady Bunch' who often held the family together.

9. Sebastian Cabot

Actor | The Jungle Book

Sebastian Cabot was an English actor, often working as a voice actor in animation.

On 6 July, 1918, Cabot was born in London. He dropped out of school in 1932, to work in an automotive garage. He was eventually hired as both a chauffeur and a valet for actor Frank Pettingell (1891-1966). He learned ...

Family Affair

10. Maidie Norman

Actress | What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

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 ...

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'.

11. Isabel Sanford

Actress | The Jeffersons

Isabel Sanford was a Broadway actress for over thirty years before moving to Hollywood. She made numerous guest appearances on TV, including a stint as a supporting cast member on The Carol Burnett Show (1967). Until her passing, Isabel continued to act frequently, most recently in a series of ...

Stole scenes in her first movie role opposite Sidney Poitier, with Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn, in 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?'

12. John Gielgud

Actor | Arthur

Born in London, England, John Gielgud trained at Lady Benson's Acting School and RADA, London. Best known for his Shakespearean roles in the theater, he first played Hamlet at the age of 26. He worked under the tutelage of Lilian Bayliss with friend and fellow performer Laurence Olivier and other ...

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'.

13. Helen Mirren

Actress | The Queen

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. ...

The only life she had was to serve others in 'Gosford Park', including committing murder to save her son from committing murder

14. Amy Gaipa

Actress | Titanic

Amy Gaipa was born in 1970 in St. Joseph, Michigan, USA. She is an actress and producer, known for Titanic (1997), Whiskey Kills the Hunger (2018) and Dirty Rhetoric.

I don't think she actually had a line in the movie, but everyone remembers Trudy from 'Titanic'.

15. Vanessa Brown

Actress | The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

The attractive daughter of Austrian-Jewish émigrés who fled their homeland to Paris in 1937 before coming to the United States, "B" actress Vanessa Brown grew up exceptionally fluent in German, French, Italian and English. She developed an early interest in acting.

Auditioning for Lillian Hellman at...

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.

16. Ted Cassidy

Actor | Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Ted Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Philippi, West Virginia. He was a well respected actor who portrayed many different characters during his film and television career. His most notable role was Lurch, the faithful butler on the television series The Addams Family (1964)....

Lurch in 'The Addams Family' needs no introduction.

17. Daniel Davis

Actor | Star Trek: The Next Generation

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 "...

Niles in 'The Nanny'

18. Charlotte Rae

Actress | The Facts of Life

Charlotte Rae was born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in 1926, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the middle daughter of three sisters, between Beverly and Mimi. Her parents, Esther (nee Ottenstein) and Meyer Lubotsky, were Russian Jewish immigrants. Her father owned an automobile tire business. Her mother had been ...

Mrs. Garrett in 'Diff'rent Strokes'.

19. Jean Vander Pyl

Actress | The Flintstones

Jean Thurston Vander Pyl was an American actress and voice actress. Although her career spanned many decades, she is best known as the voice of Wilma Flintstone for the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Flintstones (1960). In addition to Wilma Flintstone, she also provided the voices of Pebbles Flintstone,...

The voice of the only mechanical maid I can think of, Rosie the Robot Maid in 'The Jetsons'.

20. Richard Haydn

Actor | The Sound of Music

London-born character actor George Richard Haydon was noted for his put-on nasal delivery and pompous, fussy manner. 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 ...

The butler and forth victim in 'And Then There Were None'

21. Oprah Winfrey

Producer | The Oprah Winfrey Show

Oprah Gail Winfrey , often known simply as Oprah, is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ...

Sofia didn't take kindly to the mayor's wife saying, "Would you like to be my maid?", in 'The Colour Purple'.

22. Una O'Connor

Actress | Witness for the Prosecution

Delightful character actress who held her own against such acting heavyweights as Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Tyrone Power, Barbara Stanwyck, and Sydney Greenstreet. Often cast by studio heads as comic relief thanks to her thick Irish accent and rubber-faced expressions, most notably in ...

Played the cranky but hilarious housekeeper to Norma Varden in 'Witness For The Prosecution' who tried to have Tyrone Power sent to jail.

23. Ryan Phillippe

Actor | Gosford Park

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 ...

The valet who wasn't really a valet in 'Gosford Park.

24. Cyril Delevanti

Actor | Soylent Green

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 ...

The butler in the background was the only one who knew what Bette Davis was really up to in 'Dead Ringer'.

25. Esther Rolle

Actress | Driving Miss Daisy

Best known for the role of Florida Evans on the 1970s sitcoms Maude (1972) and Good Times (1974), 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 ...

Maid Florida Evans on the hit 70s sitcoms 'Maude' and 'Good Times'.

26. Estelle Evans

Actress | To Kill a Mockingbird

Estelle Evans was born on October 1, 1906 in Rolle Town, Bahamas. She was an actress, known for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), The Learning Tree (1969) and The Clairvoyant (1982). She was married to Willam Evans. She died on July 20, 1985 in New York City, New York, USA.

Esther Rolles' real life sister was Estelle Evans who was another fictional maid. Estelle Evans was Calpurnia in 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.

27. Embeth Davidtz

Actress | Bicentennial Man

Embeth Davidtz was born on August 11, 1965 in Lafayette, Indiana. She is known for her role as Miss Honey in the film Matilda (1996).

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 ...

Imprisoned Jew Helen Hirsch had to become the maid for the concentration camp's Commandant in a very memorable performance.

28. James 'Gypsy' Haake

Actor | The Morning After

James 'Gypsy' Haake is an actor, known for The Morning After (1986), To Be or Not to Be (1983) and Clifford (1994).

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'.

29. Maggie Smith

Actress | Gosford Park

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 ...

Maggie Smith plays any role perfectly, and that includes her memorable role as Bette Davis' servant in 'Death On The Nile'

30. Alice Nunn

Actress | Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Very little is known about Alice Elizabeth Nunn with the exception that she appeared in one of the 1980s most famous films, Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), as the infamous truck driver, 'Large Marge'.

She was born on October 10, 1927 in Jacksonville, Florida to parents N.G. Nunn and Alice Bush. ...

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.

31. Lee Bergere

Actor | Star Trek

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 ...

He was quite a significant member of the cast, playing majordomo "Joseph Anders" in the 1980s television series "Dynasty".

32. Jennifer Lopez

Producer | Hustlers

Jennifer Lynn Lopez was born on July 24, 1969 in The Bronx, New York City, New York to teacher Lupe López & David López, a computer technician. The two Puerto Ricans were brought to the continental United States during their childhoods and, eventually, met while living in New York City. Their ...

Not often is a hotel maid the leading role, but it was in 'Maid in Manhatten'.

33. Sandra Dee

Actress | Gidget

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 ...

Another maid with a leading role, this time a maid-for-hire in 'That Funny Feeling'.

34. Alan Napier

Actor | Marnie

Alan Napier was born on January 7, 1903 in Kings 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 ...

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).

35. Burt Kwouk

Actor | Kiss of the Dragon

Burt Kwouk was a British actor, who was best known for his role as Cato in the Pink Panther films, and for playing Mr Ling in the third James Bond film, Goldfinger.

Kwouk was born in Warrington, but was brought up in Shanghai. He made his film debut in the 1957 film Windom's Way. In Goldfinger (1964...

Cato was the unforgettable valet to Inspector Clouseau.

36. Joseph Marcell

Actor | The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Joseph Marcell was born on August 14, 1948 in St. Lucia, Caribbean. He is an actor and director, known for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), The Exorcism of God (2021) and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019). He has been married to Joyce T. Walsh since June 1995. They have one child. He was ...

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.

37. Viola Davis

Actress | The Help

Viola Davis is a critically revered actress of film, television, and theater and has won rave reviews for her multitude of substantial and intriguingly diverse roles. Audiences across the United States and internationally have admired her for her work- including her celebrated, Oscar-nominated ...

Aibeleen the maid in The Help (2011)

38. Octavia Spencer

Actress | Hidden Figures

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, ...

Minny the Maid in The Help (2012)

39. Glenn Close

Actress | Fatal Attraction

Eight time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Bettine (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families.

Glenn was a noted Broadway ...

Albert Nobbs the butler in Albert Nobbs (20120

40. Roddy McDowall

Actor | Fright Night

Roddy McDowall was born in Herne Hill, London, England, to Winifriede Lucinda (Corcoran), an Irish-born aspiring actress, and Thomas Andrew McDowall, a merchant seaman. Roddy was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his first film, Murder in the Family (1938), ...

Played butler roles is several movies.

41. Alec Guinness

Actor | Star Wars

Alec Guinness was an English actor. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence...

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'.

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