May 3, 1889
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||January 11, 1981 (aged 91)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Valparaiso University|
Beulah Bondi (born Beulah Bondy; May 3, 1889 – January 11, 1981) was an American character actress; she often played eccentric mothers and later grandmothers and wives, although she was known for numerous other roles. She began her acting career as a young child in theater, and after establishing herself as a Broadway stage actress in 1925, she reprised her role in Street Scene for the 1931 film version.
She played supporting roles in several films during the 1930s, and was twice nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She played the mother of James Stewart in four films: Of Human Hearts, Vivacious Lady, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Although at her height in Hollywood from the 1930s until the 1950s, Bondi never retired, and she continued acting well into her later years, at the age of 87 winning an Emmy Award for her guest-star role on The Waltons in 1976.
Life and career
Bondi was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Eva Suzanna (née Marble), an author, and Abraham O. Bondy, who worked in real estate. The family moved to Valparaiso, Indiana, when she was three, and Bondi began her acting career on the stage at age seven, playing Cedric Errol in a production of Little Lord Fauntleroy at the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso. She graduated from the Frances Shimer Academy (later Shimer College) in 1907, and gained her bachelor's and master's degrees in oratory at Valparaiso University in 1916 and 1918.
She made her Broadway debut in Kenneth Seymour Webb's One of the Family at the 49th Street Theatre on December 21, 1925. She next appeared in another hit, Maxwell Anderson's Saturday's Children, in 1926. Bondi's performance in Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning Street Scene, which opened at the Playhouse Theatre on January 10, 1929, brought Bondi to the movies at the age of 43. Her debut movie role was as Emma Jones in Street Scene (1931), which starred Sylvia Sidney, and in which Bondi reprised her stage role, followed by "Mrs. Davidson" in Rain (1932), which starred Joan Crawford and Walter Huston.
She was one of the first five women to be nominated for an Academy Award in the newly created category of "Best Supporting Actress" for her work in The Gorgeous Hussy, although she lost the award to Gale Sondergaard. Two years later she was nominated again for Of Human Hearts and lost again, but her reputation as a character actress kept her employed. She would most often be seen in the role of the mother of the star of the film for the rest of her career, with the exception of Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) as the abandoned Depression-era 'Ma' Cooper. She often played mature roles in her early film career even though she was only in her early 40s. In 1940 Bondi played Mrs. Webb in Our Town and Granny Tucker in The Southerner, directed by Jean Renoir and released in 1945.
Although Bondi played mothers and grandmothers on screen, she was a lifelong bachelorette with no children. She admitted, "I never regretted the choice of a career over marriage, it was a difficult decision and I've never been sorry."
Bondi's television credits include Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Howard Richardson's Ark of Safety on the Goodyear Television Playhouse. She appeared with Jan Clayton in "The Prairie Story" on NBC's Wagon Train. She made a guest appearance on Perry Mason in 1963 when she played the role of Sophia Stone in "The Case of the Nebulous Nephew".
Bondi made her final appearances as Martha Corinne Walton on The Waltons in the episodes "The Conflict" (September 1974) and "The Pony Cart" (December 1976). She received an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series for her performance in "The Pony Cart". When her name was called, it first appeared that she was not present, but she received a standing ovation as she walked slowly to the podium, from which she thanked the audience for honoring her while she was still living.
|1931||Street Scene||Emma Jones|
|1933||The Stranger's Return||Beatrice Storr|
|Christopher Bean||Mrs. Hannah Haggett|
|1934||Two Alone||Mrs. Slag|
|Registered Nurse||Miss McKenna|
|Finishing School||Her Teacher / Miss Van Alstyne|
|The Painted Veil||Frau Koerber||Scenes cut|
|Ready for Love||Mrs. Burke|
|1935||The Good Fairy||Dr. Schultz|
|Bad Boy||Mrs. Larkin|
|1936||The Invisible Ray||Lady Arabella Stevens|
|The Trail of the Lonesome Pine||Melissa Tolliver|
|The Moon's Our Home||Mrs. Boyce Medford|
|The Case Against Mrs. Ames||Mrs. Livingston Ames|
|Hearts Divided||Madame Letizia|
|The Gorgeous Hussy||Rachel Jackson|
|1937||Maid of Salem||Abigail – His Wife|
|Make Way for Tomorrow||Lucy Cooper|
|1938||The Buccaneer||Aunt Charlotte|
|Of Human Hearts||Mary Wilkins|
|Vivacious Lady||Martha Morgan|
|The Sisters||Rose Elliott|
|1939||On Borrowed Time||Nellie – Granny|
|The Under-Pup||Miss Thornton|
|Mr. Smith Goes to Washington||Ma Smith|
|1940||Remember the Night||Mrs. Sargent|
|Our Town||Mrs. Webb|
|The Captain Is a Lady||Angie Peabody|
|1941||Penny Serenade||Miss Oliver|
|The Shepherd of the Hills||Aunt Mollie Matthews|
|One Foot in Heaven||Mrs. Lydia Sandow|
|1943||Tonight We Raid Calais||Mme. Bonnard|
|Watch on the Rhine||Anise|
|1944||She's a Soldier Too||Agatha Kittredge|
|I Love a Soldier||Etta Lane|
|Our Hearts Were Young and Gay||Miss Horn|
|The Very Thought of You||Mrs. Harriet Wheeler|
|And Now Tomorrow||Aunt Em|
|1945||Back to Bataan||Bertha Barnes|
|The Southerner||Granny Tucker|
|1946||Breakfast in Hollywood||Mrs. Annie Reed|
|Sister Kenny||Mary Kenny|
|It's a Wonderful Life||Ma Bailey|
|1947||High Conquest||Clara Kingsley|
|1948||The Sainted Sisters||Hester Rivercomb|
|The Snake Pit||Mrs. Greer|
|So Dear to My Heart||Granny Kincaid|
|1949||The Life of Riley||Miss Martha Bogle|
|Reign of Terror||Grandma Blanchard|
|Mr. Soft Touch||Mrs. Clara Hangale|
|1950||The Baron of Arizona||Loma|
|The Furies||Mrs. Anaheim|
|1952||Lone Star||Minniver Bryan|
|1954||Track of the Cat||Ma Bridges|
|1956||Back from Eternity||Martha Spangler|
|1957||The Unholy Wife||Emma Hochen|
|On Borrowed Time||'Granny' Northrup||TV movie|
|1959||The Big Fisherman||Hannah|
|A Summer Place||Mrs. Emily Hamilton Hamble|
|1961||Tammy Tell Me True||Mrs. Annie Call|
|1962||The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm||The Gypsy||('The Dancing Princess')|
|1963||Tammy and the Doctor||Mrs. Annie Call|
|1972||She Waits||Mrs. Medina||TV movie|
|1974–1976||The Waltons||Martha Corinne Walton||Episodes: "The Conflict", "The Pony Cart"|
|1952||Stars in the Air||"On Borrowed Time"|
- Nissen, A. (2007). Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties. Mcfarland & Company. p. 43. ISBN 9780786427468. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
- According to the State of California. California Death Index, 1940–1997. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At Ancestry.com
- Obituary Variety, January 21, 1981.
- Thompson, D.E. (1981). Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1967-1980. Wabash College. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
- "Explore Historical Newspaper Archives Online | NewspaperARCHIVE.com". newspaperarchive.com. Retrieved September 13, 2015.[permanent dead link]
- Shimer College (March 1976). "Beulah Bondi Stars at Shimer Film Tribute". Shimer College Bulletin. p. 8.
- "Beulah Bondi", filmography, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner, Inc., New York, N.Y. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame – Beulah Bondi". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- Kirby, Walter (April 6, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 52. Retrieved May 16, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Young, Jordan R. (1986) [First published 1975]. "Beulah Bondi". Reel Characters : Great Movie Character Actors (softcover) (Sixth ed.). Beverly Hills, CA: Moonstone Press. pp. 57–70. ISBN 978-0-940410-79-4.
- Alistair, Rupert (2018). "Beulah Bondi". The Name Below the Title : 65 Classic Movie Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age (softcover) (First ed.). Great Britain: Independently published. pp. 47–49. ISBN 978-1-7200-3837-5.