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Edna May Oliver

Edna May Oliver (November 9, 1883 – November 9, 1942) was an American stage and film actress. During the 1930s, she was one of the best-known character actresses in American films, often playing tart-tongued spinsters. ​She was born Edna May Nutter 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."

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Nov 9, 1883 In Malden, Massachusetts, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie Wife in Name Only 1923-08-25
Latest Project:
Movie Lydia 1941-09-18
Known For
Poster of Alice in Wonderland
Poster of Fanny Foley Herself
Poster of Cracked Nuts
Poster of Three O'Clock in the Morning
Movie Lydia Sarah MacMillan 1941-09-18
Movie Pride and Prejudice Lady Catherine de Bourgh 1940-07-26
Movie Second Fiddle Aunt Phoebe 1939-06-30
Movie The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle Maggie Sutton 1939-03-29
Movie Drums Along the Mohawk Mrs. Mc Klennar 1939-11-10
Movie Nurse Edith Cavell Countess de Mavon 1939-08-31
Movie Paradise for Three Mrs. Kunkel 1938-06-04
Movie Little Miss Broadway Sarah Wendling 1938-07-29
Movie Parnell Aunt Ben Wood 1937-06-04
Movie Rosalie Queen of Romanza 1937-12-24
Movie My Dear Miss Aldrich Mrs. Atherton 1937-09-17
Movie Romeo and Juliet Juliet's Nurse 1936-09-03
Movie A Tale of Two Cities Miss Pross 1935-12-25
Movie David Copperfield Aunt Betsey Trotwood 1935-01-18
Movie Murder on a Honeymoon Hildegarde Withers 1935-02-22
Movie No More Ladies Fanny 'Grandma' Townsend 1935-06-14
Movie The Poor Rich Harriet Spottiswood 1934-02-25
Movie The Last Gentleman Augusta Pritchard, Cabot's sister 1934-04-27
Movie Murder on the Blackboard Hildegarde Withers 1934-06-15
Movie We're Rich Again Maude Stanley 1934-07-13
Movie Ann Vickers Malvina Wormser 1933-09-26
Movie The Great Jasper Madame Talma 1933-03-03
Movie It's Great to Be Alive Dr. Prodwell 1933-07-08
Movie Meet the Baron Dean Primrose 1933-10-20
Movie Only Yesterday Leona 1933-11-01
Movie Alice in Wonderland Red Queen 1933-12-18
Movie Little Women Aunt March 1933-11-24
Movie Ladies of the Jury Mrs. Livingston Baldwin Crane 1932-02-02
Movie Hold 'Em Jail Violet Jones 1932-09-16
Movie The Conquerors Matilda Blake 1932-11-18
Movie Penguin Pool Murder Miss Hildegarde Martha Withers 1932-12-09
Movie Laugh and Get Rich Sarah Cranston Austin 1931-03-27
Movie Cracked Nuts Aunt Minnie Van Varden 1931-04-18
Movie Cimarron Mrs. Tracy Wyatt 1931-02-09
Movie Newly Rich Bessie Tate 1931-07-04
Movie Fanny Foley Herself Fanny Foley 1931-10-09
Movie Half Shot at Sunrise Mrs. Marshall 1930-10-04
Movie The Saturday Night Kid Miss Streeter 1929-10-25
Movie Let's Get Married J.W. Smith 1926-03-01
Movie The American Venus Mrs. Niles 1926-01-31
Movie The Lady Who Lied 1925-07-12
Movie Lovers in Quarantine Amelia Pincent 1925-10-11
Movie The Lucky Devil Mrs. McDee 1925-07-13
Movie Restless Wives Benson's Secretary 1924-01-06
Movie Icebound Hannah 1924-03-02
Movie Manhattan Mrs. Trapes 1924-10-28
Movie Wife in Name Only Mrs. Dornham 1923-08-25
Movie Three O'Clock in the Morning Hetty 1923-12-01