Westley, c. 1915
Henrietta Remsen Meserole Manney
March 28, 1875
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 12, 1942 (aged 67)|
Middlebush, New Jersey, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||John Westley (ca. 1900 – 1912; divorced)|
Helen Westley (born Henrietta Remsen Meserole Manney; March 28, 1875 – December 12, 1942) was an American character actress.
She was born Henrietta Remsen Meserole Manney in Brooklyn, New York on March 28, 1875, she later went onto become Helen Westley; she was a founding member of the original board of the Theatre Guild, and appeared in many of their productions, among them Peer Gynt, and some of their productions of plays by George Bernard Shaw— Caesar and Cleopatra, Pygmalion, Heartbreak House, Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and The Apple Cart. She appeared in the original Broadway productions of two plays which, after her death, turned into classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals: Green Grow The Lilacs, which became Oklahoma!, and Liliom, which became Carousel. Westley played Aunt Eller in the former, and Mrs. Muskat (who became Mrs. Mullin in Carousel) in the latter. She also appeared in the original Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude.
Westley played roles, both comic and dramatic, in many films. They included Death Takes a Holiday, All This and Heaven Too, four films opposite child star Shirley Temple (including Dimples and Heidi), the 1934 surprise hit Anne of Green Gables, the 1935 film version of Roberta, and the 1936 film version of Show Boat, in which she replaced Edna May Oliver, when Ms. Oliver declined to repeat her stage role as Parthy Ann Hawks. She also appeared in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm in 1938 with Shirley Temple and Randolph Scott as Aunt Miranda. In 1936, she played in Banjo on My Knee with Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Brennan and Buddy Ebsen.
After Westley retired from acting in 1942, she later moved into her daughters home in Middlebush, New Jersey, where they both lived together until her death on December 12, 1942, from an undisclosed illness. Upon her death, she was cremated at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey, and on December 17 of that same year, her daughter had her ashes buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, in Section 9, Lot 26 (the same site where Westley's own mother and father were buried).
- Moulin Rouge (1934) - Mrs. Morris
- The House of Rothschild (1934) - Gudula Rothschild
- Looking for Trouble (1934) - Pearl's Landlady (uncredited)
- Death Takes a Holiday (1934) - Stephanie
- The Age of Innocence (1934) - Granny Mingott
- Anne of Green Gables (1934) - Marilla Cuthbert
- Captain Hurricane (1935) - Abbie Howland
- Roberta (1935) - Aunt Minnie aka Roberta
- Chasing Yesterday (1935) - Therese
- The Melody Lingers On (1935) - Franceska Manzoni
- Splendor (1935) - Mrs. Emmeline Lorrimore
- Show Boat (1936) - Parthy Ann Hawks
- Half Angel (1936) - Mrs. Martha Hargraves
- Dimples (1936) - Mrs. Caroline Drew
- Banjo on My Knee (1936) - Grandma
- Stowaway (1936) - Mrs. Hope
- Café Metropole (1937) - Margaret Ridgeway
- Sing and Be Happy (1937) - Mrs. Henty
- Heidi (1937) - Blind Anna
- I'll Take Romance (1937) - Madame Della aka Madella
- She Married an Artist (1937) - Martha Moriarty
- The Baroness and the Butler (1938) - Countess Sandor
- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) - Aunt Miranda Wilkins
- Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938) - Aunt Sophie
- Keep Smiling (1938) - Mrs. Willoughby
- Zaza (1938) - Anais
- Wife, Husband and Friend (1939) - Mrs. Blair
- Lillian Russell (1940) - Grandma Leonard
- The Captain Is a Lady (1940) - Abigail Morrow
- All This, and Heaven Too (1940) - Madame LeMaire
- Lady with Red Hair (1940) - Mrs. Frazier
- Adam Had Four Sons (1941) - Cousin Philippa
- Lady from Louisiana (1941) - Blanche Brunot
- Sunny (1941) - Aunt Barbara
- Million Dollar Baby (1941) - Mrs. Galloway
- The Smiling Ghost (1941) - Grandmother Bentley
- Bedtime Story (1941) - Emma Harper
- My Favorite Spy (1942) - Aunt Jessie (final film role)
- Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland – via Google Books.
- Helen Westley: North American Theatre Online, site available to most colleges and universities for free
- "Ethel Westley – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Helen Westley.|
- Helen Westley on IMDb
- Helen Westley at the Internet Broadway Database
- Helen Westley portrait NYP Library
- portrait of Helen Westley(corbis)
- dress portrait(University of Washington, Sayre collection)