Mildred Natwick

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Mildred Natwick
Mildred Natwick 1947.JPG
Natwick in 1947
Born (1905-06-19)June 19, 1905
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died October 25, 1994(1994-10-25) (aged 89)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1932—1988

Mildred Natwick (June 19, 1905 – October 25, 1994) was an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated American stage, film and television actress.[1]

Early life[edit]

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born to Joseph (a businessman) and Mildred Marion (née Dawes) Natwick. She graduated from the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore. After graduating from Bennett College with a degree in theater arts, Mildred Natwick toured with a number of stage productions before her first Broadway production, Carry Nation.[2]

Her grandfather, Ole Natwick, was one of the earliest Norwegian immigrants to the United States, arriving in Wisconsin in 1847. He had eleven children in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin, including Joseph Natwick, Mildred's father. Mildred Natwick was a first cousin of animator and cartoonist Myron "Grim" Natwick.[3]


Natwick in the film The Trouble with Harryin 1955

She began performing at age 21 with "The Vagabonds", a nonprofessional group in Baltimore. She soon joined the celebrated University Players on Cape Cod. Natwick got her start on Broadway in 1932, playing Mrs. Noble in Frank McGrath’s play Carry Nation, about the famous temperance crusader. Throughout the 1930s she starred in a number of plays, frequently collaborating with friend and actor-director-playwright Joshua Logan. On Broadway, she played "Prossy" in Katharine Cornell's production of Candida. She made her film debut in John Ford's The Long Voyage Home as a Cockney prostitute, and portrayed the landlady in The Enchanted Cottage (1945).

Natwick is remembered for small but memorable roles in several John Ford film classics, including 3 Godfathers (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1948), and The Quiet Man (1952). She played Miss Ivy Gravely, in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955), and a sorceress in The Court Jester (1956).[4]

She continued to appear onstage, and made regular guest appearances in television series. She was twice nominated for Tony Awards: in 1957 for The Waltz of the Toreadors, and in 1972 for the musical 70 Girls 70. She returned to film in Barefoot in the Park (1967) as the mother of the character played by Jane Fonda. The role earned Natwick her only Academy Award nomination. One of Natwick's memorable roles was in The House Without a Christmas Tree (1972), which starred Jason Robards and Lisa Lucas. The program's success spawned three sequels: The Thanksgiving Treasure, The Easter Promise, and Addie and The King of Hearts. She also appeared as the rather British "Nanny" in Eloise.[5]

In 1971, Natwick co-starred with Helen Hayes in Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate, in which their characters worked together as amateur sleuths. This may have inspired a television movie called The Snoop Sisters, starring Natwick and Hayes as two elderly sisters who routinely stumbled across mysteries which they solved. The success of that telefilm resulted in a 1973-74 series, also called The Snoop Sisters, which was part of The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie. For her performance, Natwick won the Emmy Award as Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series. Natwick later joined Hayes as the first members of the Board of Advisors to the Riverside Shakespeare Company during its formative years, attending and supporting several fund raisers for that off-Broadway theatre company.[6][7]

She guest-starred on such television series as McMillan & Wife, Family, Alice, The Love Boat, Hawaii Five-O, The Bob Newhart Show, and Murder She Wrote. Her final role was in the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons.


Mildred Natwick died of cancer at age 89 in New York City. She never married or had children.[8]

Select filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Biography for Mildred Natwick (Turner Classic Movies)
  2. ^ Carrie Nation: IBDb entry
  3. ^ Ole Natwick ("History of Wood County, Wisconsin". George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co., 1923)
  4. ^ Mildred Natwick profile,; accessed November 10, 2014.
  5. ^ Posthumous profile of Mildred Natwick, The New York Times,; accessed November 10, 2014.
  6. ^ Mildred Natwick profile,; accessed November 10, 2014.
  7. ^ Dickens lends the Bard a Hand, The New York Daily News, September 13, 1982.
  8. ^ Mildred Natwick obituary,; accessed November 10, 2014.

External links[edit]