From the trailer for Waterloo Bridge (1940). Note her name is spelled incorrectly in the movie credit still.
May 27, 1879|
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
|Died||June 24, 1962
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Louis Evan Shipman (1926–1933) (his death)
Rockliffe Fellowes (?-?) (divorced)
Lucile Watson (May 27, 1879 – June 24, 1962) was a Canadian-American actress. She was "famous for her roles of formidable dowagers."
Watson was Canadian-born, raised in Ottawa after having been born in Quebec, the daughter of an officer in the British Army. Despite his wishes, she traveled to New York City and enrolled in a dramatic school.
Watson began her career on the stage debuting on Broadway in the play Hearts Aflame in 1902. Her next play was The Girl With Green Eyes, the first of several Clyde Fitch stories. At the end of 1903, Watson appeared in Fitch's Glad of It. This play featured several young performers including Watson who would move on to major Broadway or motion picture prominence: Robert Warwick, John Barrymore, Thomas Meighan, and Grant Mitchell, to say the least. For the rest of the decade, she appeared in several more Fitch stories into the 1910s. Fitch would die in 1909.
Watson was primarily a stage actress, appearing in 39 Broadway plays. She starred in such plays as Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, Heartbreak House, Ghosts, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Pride and Prejudice.
Watson's first film role was in the 1916 silent film The Girl with Green Eyes, a film version of the Clyde Fitch play she had performed in on Broadway in 1902. She did not appear in another movie until 1930, when she had an uncredited role in The Royal Family of Broadway. In 1939, she played a memorable role as Norma Shearer's wise mother in the multi-Academy-Award-winning cultural comedy/drama from the Clare Booth Luce play, The Women, which has become a classic.
Watson reached the height of her adult acting career in playwright Lillian Hellman's anti-fascist dramatic stage play Watch on the Rhine on Broadway in 1941, starring Paul Lukas. Two years later in Hollywood, she and Lukas reprised their roles in the film adaptation. In perhaps her best known film role, Lucile Watson's performance as 'Mrs. Fanny Farrelly' was also acknowledged with a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but she lost to Greek-born actress Katina Paxinou for her performance as Pilar in For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Watson's first name, Lucile, is often misspelled in her movie credits as Lucille. Watson in her youth had an inordinate beauty but with a stern expression on her face. Photos taken during her Broadway years show a look to which movie audiences would become accustomed. It is not known if she cultivated this look for films or if she wanted to ward off a lot of male attention to her subtle beauty. Sometime in the 1910s, she was briefly married to silent film star Rockliffe Fellowes; they had no children. Her second husband was playwright Louis E. Shipman, whom she married in 1928 and who died in 1933.
- No More Ladies (1934) as Mrs. Fanny Townsend
- The Royal Family of Broadway (1930) - Actress Backstage (uncredited)
- What Every Woman Knows (1934) - La Contessa la Brierre
- The Bishop Misbehaves (1935) - Lady Emily
- The Garden of Allah (1936) - Mother Superior Josephine
- A Woman Rebels (1936) - Betty Bumble
- Three Smart Girls (1936) - Martha
- The Young in Heart (1938) - Mrs. Jennings
- Sweethearts (1938) - Mrs. Marlowe
- Made for Each Other (1939) - Mrs. Harriet Mason
- The Women (1939) - Mrs. Morehead
- Waterloo Bridge (1940) - Lady Margaret Cronin
- Florian (1940) - Countess
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) - Mrs. Custer
- Rage in Heaven (1941) - Mrs. Monrell
- Footsteps in the Dark (1941) - Mrs. Archer
- The Great Lie (1941) - Aunt Ada
- Model Wife (1941) - J.J. Benson
- Watch on the Rhine (1943) - Fanny Farrelly
- Uncertain Glory (1944) - Mme. Maret
- Till We Meet Again (1944) - Mother Superior
- The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) - Mrs. Charles
- Tomorrow Is Forever (1946) - Aunt Jessica Hamilton
- My Reputation (1946) - Mrs. Mary Kimball
- Never Say Goodbye (1946) - Mrs. Hamilton
- Song of the South (1946) - Grandmother
- The Razor's Edge (1946) - Louisa Bradley
- Ivy (1947) - Mrs. Gretorex
- The Emperor Waltz (1948) - Princess Bitotska
- Julia Misbehaves (1948) - Mrs. Packett
- That Wonderful Urge (1948) - Anut Cornelia Farley
- Little Women (1949) - Aunt March
- Everybody Does It (1949) - Mrs. Blair
- Let's Dance (1950) - Serena Everett
- Harriet Craig (1950) - Celia Fenwick
- My Forbidden Past (1951) - Aunt Eula Beaurevel
- "Famed actress dies at 83". California, Redlands. Redlands Daily Facts. June 26, 1962. p. 5. Retrieved March 14, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Lucile Watson, Type". D.C, Washington. The Washington Herald. February 9, 1919. p. 15. Retrieved March 14, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Lucile Watson". Playbill. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
- Watch on the Rhine at the Internet Broadway Database
- "Lucile Watson, Actress, 83, Dies". Connecticut, Bridgeport. The Bridgeport Post. June 25, 1962. p. 24. Retrieved March 14, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
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