Dorothy Tree, 1939
|Born||Dorothy Estelle Triebitz
May 21, 1906
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||February 13, 1992
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
|Other names||Dorothy Uris|
|Occupation||Actress, voice teacher|
|Spouse(s)||Michael Uris (19??-1967; his death); 1 child|
Her roles included Martha, mother of Knute Rockne in Knute Rockne, All American, and May Emmerich, the invalid wife of Louis Calhern in The Asphalt Jungle. After being blacklisted as a communist because of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings, she began a second career as a voice teacher in New York. Emphasizing good diction and clarity, and the subtleties of intonation, she published four books on the subject.
Early life and stage career
She was born in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest of three daughters of Herman Triebitz (1877–1943) and Bertha Hert (1885–1967). Her sisters were Sylvia Triebitz (1911–1949) and Mildred "Mimi" Triebitz (1918–?) Her parents were born in Austria, and immigrated to the United States. Their native language was Yiddish. He was the proprietor of a shoe store in Brooklyn, and later sold shoes wholesale.
Dorothy attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Taking the stage name Dorothy Tree, she began her acting career on the stage in 1926. She appeared in six plays on Broadway, including her role as Jessica (Shylock's daughter) in The Merchant of Venice (1930).
Tree made her motion picture debut playing a department store employee in the Famous Players-Lasky/Paramount Pictures silent era romantic comedy It (1927) starring Clara Bow and Antonio Moreno. Tree next played a wife of Bela Lugosi's Dracula (1931); she also played a bride of Dracula in the Spanish language version of the same title, which was shot at night with a different cast using the same sets at Universal.
Tree attracted attention as a feminine menace on the screen as the hairdresser-spy, Hilda Kleinhauer, in the Warner Bros. drama Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) starring Edward G. Robinson, which won the National Board of Review Award for Best Film – English Language. Her performance immediately won her the role as Reni Vonich, head of a spy ring attempting to steal the latest in technology, in Paramount's sci-fi drama Television Spy (1939). She was signed by RKO to portray the important role as Elizabeth Edwards, Mary Todd's sister, in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) starring Raymond Massey.
She portrayed Martha Rockne in the Warners biopic Knute Rockne, All American, the mother of the famous football coach played by Pat O'Brien. The movie also stars Ronald Reagan and Gale Page. In MGM's film noir crime/drama The Asphalt Jungle Tree played May Emmerich, a bedridden woman who is the very ingenuous and frustrated wife of Alonzo Emmerich (played by Louis Calhern), a crooked lawyer and double-crosser who, although he truly loves May, is having an adulterous affair with the character played by Marilyn Monroe.
Tree also appeared as Aunt Martha Dale in a teleplay of the live television anthology series The Silver Theatre (1950), which was titled Minor Incident. Her last role on the theater screen was as Marie Elsner in Columbia's crime/drama The Family Secret (1951) starring John Derek and Lee J. Cobb.
Blacklist and new career
She then began a second career teaching voice and diction in New York. She specialized in singing in English at the Metropolitan Opera and the Mannes College of Music, and also taught at the Manhattan School of Music, using her married name, Dorothy Uris. She was quoted as saying, "I left Dorothy Tree in Hollywood."
On November 4, 1956, an article written by Uris about English singing with good diction and its aiding a singer to clarify words for the listener was published in the New York Times. She published four books, Everybody's Book of Better Speaking (1960); To Sing in English, a Guide to Improved Diction (1971); A Woman's Voice: A Handbook to Successful Private and Public Speaking (1975); and Say it Again: Dorothy Uris' Personal Collection of Quotes, Comment & Anecdotes (1979).
|1927||It||romantic comedy||Waltham employee||uncredited role|
|1931||Dracula||fantasy/horror||Dracula's wife||English-language version; uncredited|
|Dracula||fantasy/horror||Bride of Dracula (in catacombs)||Spanish-language version; uncredited|
|Here Comes the Navy||romantic comedy||Gladys|
|Madame Du Barry||historical drama||Adelaide|
|The Firebird||murder mystery||Mrs. Jolan Brandt|
|The Dragon Murder Case||crime/mystery||Ruby|
|The Case of the Howling Dog||crime/mystery||Lucy Benton|
|1935||The Woman in Red||drama||Mrs. Olga Goodyear|
|While the Patient Slept||murder mystery/comedy||Mittie Federie|
|Four Hours to Kill!||drama||Mae Danish|
|1936||Three Godfathers||western||Blackie Winter|
|Navy Born||drama/romance||Daphne Roth|
|1937||Marked Woman||crime/drama||woman in raid|
|The Great Garrick||romantic comedy||Mme. Moreau|
|1938||Having Wonderful Time||romantic comedy||Frances|
|The Mystery of Mr. Wong||mystery||Valerie Edwards|
|Confessions of a Nazi Spy||drama||Hilda Kleinhauer|
|Television Spy||science fiction/drama||Reni Vonich|
|Charlie Chan in City in Darkness||mystery||Charlotte Ronnell|
|1940||Abe Lincoln in Illinois||biopic/drama||Elizabeth Edwards|
|Little Orvie||comedy||Clara Stone|
|Knute Rockne, All American||biopic/sports||Martha Rockne|
|1942||Nazi Agent||drama||Miss Harper|
|Hitler - Dead or Alive||drama||Else von Brandt|
|1943||Edge of Darkness||war/drama||Solveig Brategaard|
|Crime Doctor||crime/drama||Pearl Adams|
|1944||Casanova Brown||comedy||Nurse Clark|
|1950||The Asphalt Jungle||crime/drama||May Emmerich|
|The Men||drama||Harriet (Ellen's mother)|
|A Life of Her Own||drama||Caraway's secretary|
|1951||The Family Secret||crime/drama||Marie Elsner|
- 1910 Kings Co., NY, U.S. Federal Census, Borough of Brooklyn, New York City, Ward 26, 173 Pitkin Ave., April 19, Enumeration Dist. 736, Sheet 9 B, Page 16 B, Line 68.
- 1920 Kings Co., NY, U.S. Federal Census, Borough of Brooklyn, 1734 Pitkin Ave., January 2, Enumeration Dist. 1499, Sheet 1 A, Page 189 A, Line 8.
- 1930 Kings Co., NY, U.S. Federal Census, Brooklyn Borough, Assembly Dist. 18, Block A, 1316 President St., April 3, Enumeration Dist. 743, Sheet 1 A, Page 163 A, Line 42.
- "Cherry Pie' Contains Some Amusing Skits --- Agnes Lumbard Carries Off Chief Honors in Simi-Professional Revue, With Attractive Tunes." New York Times. Apr. 15, 1926. p. 24.
- "Michael Uris Dies at 65; Ex-Screenwriter and Editor", New York Times. July 18, 1967, p. 38.
- California Birth Index, Name: Joseph Michael Uris, Birth Date: Oct. 25, 1943, Sex: Male, Mother's Maiden Name: Triebitz [sic], Birth County: Los Angeles.
- "Dorothy Tree Runs Wide Range of Characters." Los Angeles Times, Jan. 14, 1940. p. C 4.
- "Shocked Into Reds, Film Writer Says --- He Testifies He Joined in Grief at Roosevelt Death, Quit When Party Line Changed." New York Times. Aug. 20, 1952. p. 10.
- "Lisper Learns How at Mom's Knee." Los Angeles Times. Jun. 18, 1961 New York (UPI). p. N 1.
- Uris, Dorothy. "English Can Be Sung --- Good Diction in Speech Would Aid Singer to Clarify Words for Listener." New York Times. Nov. 4, 1956. p. 149.
- Dorothy Tree at the Internet Broadway Database
- Dorothy Tree at the Internet Movie Database
- Dorothy Tree at AllMovie