Jessie Royce Landis

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Jessie Royce Landis
Jessie Royce Landis.jpg
Born Jessie Medbury
(1896-11-25)November 25, 1896
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died February 2, 1972(1972-02-02) (aged 75)
Danbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Resting place Branchville Cemetery, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Years active 1930–1971
Spouse(s) Perry Lester Landis (1923–1935)
Rex Smith (1937–1944)
Maj. Gen. J.F.R. Seitz (1956–1972) (her death)

Jessie Royce Landis (November 25, 1896 – February 2, 1972) was an American actress.

Early life[edit]

Jessie Royce Landis was born Jessie Medbury in Chicago, Illinois,[1] to Paul, an orchestra musician, and Ella Medbury. As per, "Royce" does not appear to have been her middle name by birth; her middle initial is cited as either "J." or "T".[2] Her acting surname "Landis" derives from her first husband, although she was married twice more.


Landis was a stage actress for much of her career. In the 1950s, she began appearing in movies as a character actress, most notably in To Catch a Thief (1955), and North by Northwest (1959), both starring Cary Grant and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. In North by Northwest she played Grant's character's mother, and in To Catch a Thief and The Swan (1956), she played the mothers of Grace Kelly's characters. Landis also made many television appearances.

Age controversy[edit]

Landis's appearance in North by Northwest earned her publicity for portraying Cary Grant's mother despite claiming to be nearly a year younger. Landis listed 1904 as the year of her birth, a date now given by many printed biographies and online sources.[1][3] However, in the tradition of many actresses, she had actually shaved years off her age – in this instance, eight. She appears in the 1900 U.S. Census as a 3-year-old born in November 1896,[4] and so was seven years older than Grant.


Landis was married three times. Her third husband and widower was United States Army Major General John F. R. "Jeff" Seitz (died 1978).[5] Her autobiography, titled You Won't Be So Pretty (But You'll Know More), was published in 1954. She had no children.


Landis died of cancer in Danbury, Connecticut on February 2, 1972, aged 75.[1]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1930 Derelict Helen Lorber
1949 Mr. Belvedere Goes to College Mrs. Chase
1949 It Happens Every Spring Mrs. Greenleaf
1949 My Foolish Heart Martha Winters
1950 Mother Didn't Tell Me Mrs. Wright
1952 Meet Me Tonight Olive Lloyd Ransome: Ways and Means
1953 Main Street to Broadway Jessie Royce Landis - First Nighter Uncredited
1955 To Catch a Thief Jessie Stevens
1956 Climax! Olivia Chesney Episode: "An Episode of Sparrows"
1956 The Swan Princess Beatrix
1956 The Girl He Left Behind Mrs. Madeline Shaeffer
1957 My Man Godfrey Angelica Bullock
1958 I Married a Woman Mrs. Blake, Janice's Mother
1959 North by Northwest Clara Thornhill
1959 A Private's Affair Elizabeth T. Chapman
1960 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Claire Crane Episode: "Mother, May I Go Out to Swim?"
1960 Thriller Mrs. Killburn Episode: "The Mark of the Hand"
1961 Goodbye Again Mrs. Van der Besh
1962 Bon Voyage! Countessa 'La Comtesse' DuFresne
1962 Boys' Night Out Ethel Williams
1963 Critic's Choice Charlotte Orr aka Charlie
1963 Gidget Goes to Rome Albertina Blythe
1965 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Madame Olga Nemirovitch Episode: "The Adriatic Express Affair"
1970 Airport Mrs. Harriet DuBarry Mossman
1971 Columbo Mrs. Chadwick Episode: "Lady in Waiting", (Last appearance)

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1944 Grand Central Station NA[6]
1953 Theatre Guild on the Air Quiet Wedding[7]



  1. ^ a b c Nissen, Axel (2006). Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties. McFarland. p. 95. ISBN 0-7864-2746-9. 
  2. ^ Source Citation
    Year: 1900
    Census Place: Chicago Ward 4, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 248; Page: 16A
    Enumeration District: 0096; FHL microfilm: 1240248 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.
    Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.
  3. ^ The New York Times Biographical Service. 3. New York Times & Arno Press. 1972. p. 353. 
  4. ^ 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 4, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 248; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 96; FHL microfilm: 1240248.
  5. ^ "US Army Officers 1939–1945". Retrieved February 22, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Broadway Stars Heard on "Grand Central Station"". Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Harrisburg Telegraph. October 21, 1944. p. 15. Retrieved December 27, 2015 – via  open access publication – free to read
  7. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 – via  open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]