May Whitty

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Dame May Whitty
BornMary Louise Whitty
(1865-06-19)19 June 1865
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Died29 May 1948(1948-05-29) (aged 82)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
OccupationActress
Years active1914–1948
Spouse(s)Ben Webster (1892-1947; his death); 2 children
 
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Dame May Whitty
BornMary Louise Whitty
(1865-06-19)19 June 1865
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Died29 May 1948(1948-05-29) (aged 82)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
OccupationActress
Years active1914–1948
Spouse(s)Ben Webster (1892-1947; his death); 2 children

Dame May Whitty DBE (19 June 1865 – 29 May 1948) was an English stage actress who appeared in numerous films in later life, achieving recognition in several character roles.

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Background

Born in Liverpool to William Alfred Whitty (c. 1837–1876) and Mary Louisa (née Ashton, ca. 1837–1894), she made her first stage appearance in Liverpool in 1881, later moving to London to appear on the West End.

She married the actor-manager Ben Webster in 1892 in St Giles' Parish Church, London and in 1895 they visited the United States where Whitty appeared on Broadway. Their first child, a son, died at birth. Their only surviving child, a daughter born in the USA in 1905, Margaret Webster, was a stage actress and held dual US/UK citizenship. Whitty's stage career continued for the rest of her life. In March 1910, she made her transition to middle-aged and elderly character roles, playing Amelia Madras in Harley Granville-Barker's four act comedy The Madras House.[1]

In 1918 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE, gazetted under her legal married name Mary Louise Webster) in recognition of her charitable work during World War I. She was the first film and stage actress to receive a damehood, along with opera singer Nellie Melba, who were both so honoured in 1918.

Film career

I have everything Betty Grable has—I've just had it longer.[citation needed]

She made her first major Hollywood film appearance, recreating her stage role in the film Night Must Fall (1937), which also starred Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell, and received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. This led to several supporting roles in films including that of the 'vanishing lady', "Miss Froy", in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938).

She moved permanently to the USA (although she never became a U.S. citizen) in 1939 and appeared both on stage and in Hollywood films where she usually played wealthy dowagers. It was one such part, as "Lady Beldon" in Mrs Miniver (1942), that brought her a second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

She continued to act for the remainder of her life and died in Beverly Hills, California from cancer at the age of 82; her husband had died the previous year during surgery.

Filmography

References

External links