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Cathleen Nesbitt Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (8)

Overview (3)

Born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England, UK
Died in London, England, UK  (natural causes)
Birth NameKathleen Mary Nesbitt

Mini Bio (1)

Diminutive, genteel Cathleen Nesbitt was a grand dame of the theatre on both sides of the Atlantic in a career spanning seven decades. Among almost 300 roles on stage, she excelled at comic portrayals of sophisticated socialites and elegant mothers. Hollywood used her, whenever a gentler, sweeter version of Gladys Cooper was needed, yet someone still possessed of a subtly sarcastic wit and turn of phrase. Cathleen attended Queen's University in Belfast and the Sorbonne in Paris. Encouraged by a friend of her father - none other than the legendary Sarah Bernhardt - to enter the acting profession, she was taken on by Victorian actress and drama teacher Rosina Filippi (1866-1930). Cathleen's first appearance on stage was in 1910 at the Royalty Theatre in London. This was followed in November 1911 by her Broadway debut with the touring Abbey Theatre Players in 'The Well of the Saints'. From here on, and for the rest of her long life, she was never out of a job, demonstrating her range and versatility by playing anything from villainesses to being a much acclaimed Kate in Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew', Perdita in 'The Winter's Tale', Audrey Hepburn's grandaunt in 'Gigi', the Dowager Empress in 'Anastasia' and the gossipy 'humorously animated' Julia Shuttlethwaite of T.S. Eliot's 'The Cocktail Party'. Her Mrs. Higgins in 'My Fair Lady', Brooks Atkinson described as played with 'grace and elegance', which also pretty much sums up Cathleen's career in films.

Her first motion picture role was a lead in the drama The Faithful Heart (1922), adapted from an Irish play. She then absented herself from the screen for the next decade, resurfacing in supporting roles in British films, though rarely cast in worthy parts, possible exceptions being Man of Evil (1944) and Jassy (1947). Her strengths were rather better showcased during her sojourn in Hollywood, which began in 1952. In addition to prolific appearances in anthology television, she also appeared in several big budget films, most memorably as Cary Grant's perspicacous grandmother in An Affair to Remember (1957) and as gossipy Lady Matheson (alongside Gladys Cooper) in Separate Tables (1958). One of her last roles of note was as Julia Rainbird, who instigates the mystery in Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot (1976).

On the instigation of her friend Anita Loos, author of 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes', Cathleen wrote her memoirs, 'A Little Love and Good Company' in 1977. For her extraordinarily long career in the acting profession, she was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Honours List the following year. She retired just two years prior to her death in 1983 at the age of 93.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Cecil Ramage (1921 - 2 August 1982) ( her death) ( 2 children)

Trivia (8)

Engaged to English poet Rupert Brooke, who was killed during World War I, Cathleen Nesbitt was one of the great beauties of her day.
She repeated her original stage role as Henry Higgins' mother in the stage musical "My Fair Lady" on its 25th anniversary. She was well into her nineties, acting alongside a 70-ish Rex Harrison.
Older sister of actor Tom Nesbitt.
Her daughter by Cecil Ramage, Jennifer Ramage (born 24th September 1928, London) was a famous radio actress, character-impressionist and comedienne, as well as a thriller novelist under a pseudonym.
Although only 16 years older than Cary Grant, she played his grandmother in An Affair to Remember (1957).
Her two grand-nieces are actors - Vivian Nesbitt and Caroline Nesbitt.
Had a small part in Pygmalion (1938) and later played Higgins mother in the 1956 musical stage version of "My Fair Lady".
She was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1978 Queen's New Year Honours List for her services to drama.

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