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Marie Dressler Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trivia (18)  | Personal Quotes (7)  | Salary (4)

Overview (4)

Born in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
Died in Santa Barbara, California, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameLeila Marie Koerber
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Once you saw her, you would not forget her. Despite her age and weight, she became one of the top box office draws of the sound era. She was 14 when she joined a theater group and she went on to work on stage and in light opera. By 1892, she was on Broadway and she later became a star comedienne on the vaudeville circuit. In 1910, she had a hit with 'Tillie's Nightmare' which Mack Sennett adapted to film as Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) with Charles Chaplin. Marie took top billing over a young Chaplin, but her film career never took off and by 1918, she was out of films and out of work. Her role in the chorus girls' strike of 1917 had her blacklisted from the theaters. In 1927, MGM screenwriter Frances Marion got her a small part in The Joy Girl (1927) and then a co-starring lead with Polly Moran in The Callahans and the Murphys (1927) (which was abruptly withdrawn from circulation thanks to objections of Irish-American groups over its depiction of gin-guzzling Irish). Her career stalled and the 59-year old actress found herself no longer in demand. In the late 1920s she had been largely forgotten and reduced to near-poverty. Despite her last film being a financial disaster, Irving Thalberg, somewhat incredibly, sensed her potential was determined to re-build her into a star. It was a slow return in films but her popularity continued to grow. But it was sound that made her a star again. Anna Christie (1930) was the movie where Garbo talks, but everyone noticed Marie as Marthy. In an era of Harlow, Garbo and Crawford, it was homely old Marie Dressler that won the coveted exhibitor's poll as the most popular actress for three consecutive years. In another film from the same year, Min and Bill (1930) she received a best actress Oscar for her dramatic performance. She received another Academy Award nomination for Emma (1932). She had more success with Dinner at Eight (1933) and Tugboat Annie (1933). In 1934, cancer claimed her life.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Family (1)

Spouse James H. Dalton (1908 - 29 November 1921)  (his death)
George Hoppert (6 May 1894 - 29 October 1896)  (divorced)  (1 child)

Trivia (18)

Dressler reportedly had one child, a daughter who died in infancy. No details exist.
Lived with James Dalton from 1914 until his death
She appears as a character in the musical play "In Hell with Harlow" by Paul L. Williams.
Reportedly suffered from stage fright throughout her career.
According to most census sources and the document as to the history of the house, Dressler was born in 1868. Other sources have traditionally cited 1869. The year 1871 is given as her year of birth on her gravestone in in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale, California).
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. Pg. 141-143. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Dressler won the 4th Academy Award for Best Actress (for her very serious performance in the dramatic film Min and Bill (1930)) and received the statuette at the ceremony held on November 10, 1931, the day after her 63rd birthday.
Was named the top box-office star of 1933 by the Motion Picture Herald, based on an annual poll of exhibitors as to the drawing power of movie stars at the box-office conducted by Quigley Publications.
She is commemorated on a 2008 Canadian postage stamp, one of four stamps honoring the achievements of Canadians in Hollywood. The other stamps depict Norma Shearer, Chief Dan George, and Raymond Burr.
Always credited her good friend, screenwriter Frances Marion, with literally saving her life. After much time spent trying to find her, Marion contacted Dressler about a major role in The Callahans and the Murphys (1927). Dressler reportedly contemplated suicide but other sources state that, in fact, she was considering working as a housekeeper at a Long Island estate. The Callahans and the Murphys (1927) marked a personal and professional comeback for her. It brought her to MGM, where she would remain a major star until her death.
Dressler's father was Alexander Rudolph Koerber, a German-born former officer in the Crimean War. Her mother was Anna "Annie" Henderson. She had an elder sister, Bonita Louise Koerber (1864-1939) wed playwright Richard Ganthony, and lived in Richmond, Surrey, England. The family lived at 212 King Street West, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. The house is an historical site and museum.
Profiled in book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman. [1999]
Trade paper articles in November 1933 stated that Dressler's next film would be "Mrs. Van Kleek", a South Seas story. The film was never made; already ailing, Dressler died the following year from cancer at the age of 65.
Of the first four Academy Awards for Best Actress, after Janet Gaynor, the following three consecutive winners were all Canadian-born Americans: Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer, and Dressler. No Canadian-born actress has won an Oscar as Best Actress since Dressler. Canadian-born New Zealand-reared Anna Paquin won the 1993 Best Supporting Actress Award, however, for The Piano (1993).
In 1919, during the Actors' Equity strike in New York City, the Chorus Equity Association was formed and voted Dressler its first president. Dressler was blacklisted by the theater production companies due to her strong stance. Dressler found it difficult to find work during the 1920s. She left New York for Hollywood in search of work in films.
Dressler left an estate worth $310,000, the bulk left to her older sister, Bonita. Dressler left her 1931 automobile and $35,000 in her will to her maid of twenty years, Mamie Cox, and $15,000 to Cox's husband Jerry, who had served as Dressler's butler for four years. The two used the funds to open the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Savannah, Georgia, in 1936, named after the nightclub in Los Angeles. Dressler left $3,000 to fellow film actress Claire Du Brey.
In 1910, Dressler scored her greatest Broadway hit with "Tillie's Nightmare", which four years later served as the basis of her first motion picture, Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914).
The Canadian-based Marie Dressler Foundation, which includes Marie Dressler House, hosts an annual Vintage Film Festival.

Personal Quotes (7)

If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?
By the time we hit fifty, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves.
Old age is an insult. It's like being smacked.
Any fact is better established by two or three good testimonies than by a thousand arguments.
I'm too homely for a prima donna and too ugly for a soubrette.
You're only as good as your last picture.
[on winning the Best Actress Award for Min and Bill (1930)] Like an old Model-T Ford, I had to be cranked up. I was scared stiff.

Salary (4)

Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) $35,000
The Callahans and the Murphys (1927) $1,500 /week
The Joy Girl (1927) $1,500 /week
Min and Bill (1930) $500 /week

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