Friday, November 12, 2010

Beulah Bondi

Beulah Bondi (1888 - 1981) is one of everyone's favorites when it comes to Bit Actors.  She started as a very successful stage actress on Broadway, and made her first movie at age 43, reprising her Broadway role in Street Scene (1931).

It must have been great being part of the new "Talkies."  Many silent stars were dimming due to voices that didn't match screen expectations, and that left openings for new stars.  It was a chance to work with Lionel Barrymore (1878 - 1954) and many other big names, establishing her reputation as someone you wanted to work with.

She made six films with Barrymore, and also worked with Boris Karloff (1887 - 1969) and Bela Lugosi (1882 - 1956) in The Invisible Ray in 1936; with Errol Flynn (1909 - 1959) and Bette Davis (1908 - 1989) in The Sisters in 1938; and was in the 1940 film version of Our Town.

In 1940 we see her in Remember the Night with Barbara Stanwick (1907 - 1990), and she works with Stanwick again in 1950's The Furies.  A part opposite Clark Gable (1901 - 1960) didn't come until Lone Star in 1952. 

Also in 1952, Bondi started working on TV in some teleplays.  It also agreed with her and most of her later work would be on TV, with occasional movie roles.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, remembers her in her motherly roles.  She played Jimmy Stewart's mother in no less than FOUR movies, and also on TV in "The Jimmy Stewart Show" in 1971!  Most notably in the movies Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

Sadly, at age 92 in 1981, she tripped over her cat and died of the resulting injuries.  Beulah Bondi had quite a career, and no one could doubt how much she added to the movies and TV shows she appeared in.  He last role was on "The Waltons" and she won an Emmy for her effort.


  1. Christopher Anne SamsonNovember 24, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    My husband and I have long wanted to see more recognition of the stellar bit actors who made the movies work. Some of the regulars that appeared in supporting roles in A movies sometimes got to play a lead in Bs. For example: James Gleason who worked more than once in Frank Capra films. He played comedy both comedy (Max Corkle in 'Here Comes Mr. Jordan') and drama (Uncle Bertie Steptoe 'The in Night of the Hunter') equally well. James Gleason got to play Inspector Oscar Piper in a series of mysteries, paired with Edna May Oliver.

    Beulah Bondi got to play a lead in the touching 'Make Way for Tomorrow.' Here she played the wife of Victor Moore. They are an aging couple who are forced to separate when they loose the family home and none of their children are able to take in both of them. The supporting cast included such strong notables as Fay Bainter and Thomas Mitchell. Lesser known, but equally good, is Maurice Moscovitch. It is not a great film, but it does have some delightful moments.

    I am so glad to have found this blog. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. The bit actors and actresses I have met have always impressed me with their sincerity and kindness, so I thought I should return the favor. Computer problems continue to plague me, so look again for tomorrow's post.


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