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Drawing on historical documents and newspaper reports, this book provides a fascinating portrait of a diverse group of character actresses who left their stamp on Hollywood from the early sound era through the 1960s. The lives of 35 actresses are explored in detail. Some are familiar: Margaret Hamilton starred in dozens of films before and after her signature role as the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz; Una Merkel nearly died when her mother committed suicide in 1945. Others are nearly forgotten: Maude Eburne owed her career to a spectacular fall on the Broadway stage in 1914; Greta Meyer, who played the quintessential German maid, came to Hollywood after years in New York’s Yiddish theater—though she wasn’t Jewish.
Dame Maggie Smith stands as a remarkable example of the concomitance – in a performer’s career – of typecasting and characterisation, that is the ability to impersonate ‘against type’ infinitely various screen or stage characters. This book of appreciation essentially aims at correcting the preconceived image that the general public has of Dame Maggie Smith. Focusing on the last twenty-five years, it examines, through the many parts she has played since the early 1990s, her ability to go beyond typecasting and give, thanks to her chameleon skills, nuanced and convincing portrays of infinitely diverse characters. From The Importance of Being Earnest to Gosford Park and Becoming Jane, to Downton Abbey and Sister Act, to The Last September and the Harry Potter saga, Dame Maggie Smith has had a wide spanning career in TV and Film. Not to mention her theatrical work on the stage. Author Caroline Fevrier lives in Paris, France and has a passion for theatre and performing. Caroline holds a PhD in Literature and Humanities and an MA in Literature and Drama. She was also trained as a professional performer and has been involved in several stage productions and short movies. Caroline regularly gives lectures on theatre and performance to academic audiences and had published several books on literature and humanities, and now focuses closely on the performing arts.
In a career spanning six decades, Agnes Moorehead (1900–1974) was perhaps unique among 20th-century American actresses in making her name in four entertainment media—radio, theater, film and television—after age 40. Focusing on 25 of her most representative performances, this retrospective analyzes her work on radio serials like Mayor of the Town (1942–1949) and Suspense (1942–1962), her stage productions of Don Juan in Hell and Gigi, her television appearances on Bewitched and The Twilight Zone and her Emmy-winning appearance on The Wild Wild West. The author presents Moorehead's roles in the context of her personal life, discusses her relationship with directors, producers and other performers and provides little known facts about the productions.
Continuing the exploration which began in Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties (McFarland, 2006), this companion volume analyzes the contributions of female supporting players in the films of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The twenty-five actresses profiled herein range from the easily recognizable (Marie Dressler, Ethel Waters) to the long forgotten (Esther Howard, Evelyn Varden), and from the prolific (Clara Blandick, Mary Forbes) to the “one-work wonders” (Jane Cowl, Queenie Vassar). Each profile captures the essence of the individual performer’s on-screen persona, unique talents and popular appeal—with special emphasis on a single definitive performance of the actress’s motion picture career (who, for example, could ever forget Josephine Hull in Harvey?). The appendix offers a list of “The 100 Top Performances by Character Actresses in Hollywood, 1930–1960.”

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