Hope Emerson

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Hope Emerson
Emerson in trailer to Caged (1950)
Born (1897-10-29)October 29, 1897
Hawarden, Iowa, U.S.
Died April 25, 1960(1960-04-25) (aged 62)
Hollywood, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1910s – 1960

Hope Emerson (October 29, 1897[1] – April 25, 1960[2]) was an American actress.

Early life[edit]

Emerson was born in Hawarden, Iowa. Following her graduation from West High School in Des Moines in 1916, she moved to New York City, where she performed in vaudeville.


Emerson made her Broadway début in Lysistrata in 1930, when theatrical producer Norman Bel Geddes cast her for the role of the amazonian Lamputo. She made her film début in Smiling Faces (1932) but then returned to the theater. In the 1940s, Emerson became well known as the voice of Elsie the Cow in Borden Milk commercials on radio.[3]

Standing 6 ft.-2 in. (1.88m), Emerson's most memorable roles were as a circus strongwoman in the film Adam's Rib (1949), lifting actor Spencer Tracy up in the air; a strong masseuse-conspirator in the noirish Cry of the City (1948); and a mail-order bride in Westward the Women (1952). Her most famous role, as sadistic prison matron Evelyn Harper in Caged (1950), garnered her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

On television, Emerson guest starred on the series finale ("The Housekeeper") of It's a Great Life, playing a bossy housekeeper who temporarily takes charge while Amy Morgan, played by Frances Bavier, is away on vacation.[4] She also had a regular role in Peter Gunn (1958), for which she received an Emmy nomination,[5] and the CBS sitcom The Dennis O'Keefe Show (1959), starring with Dennis O'Keefe and Ricky Kelman.[6]


Emerson died of liver disease in 1960 at age 62 in Hollywood. She is interred in Grace Hill Cemetery in her hometown of Hawarden, Iowa. She never married or had children.[7]


  1. ^ Some sources indicate October 30, 1897
  2. ^ NOTE: Some sources indicate she died on April 24, 1960
  3. ^ "Hope Emerson profile". Soylent Communications. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ ""It's a Great Life": "The Housekeeper"". tv.com. Retrieved March 19, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hope Emerson". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Hope Emerson". Hollywood.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Hope Emerson". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 2012. 

External links[edit]