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Favorite old-time Character Actors

Mine was Beluah Bondi - she was always OLD. Saw a film of hers the other night, from 1934, and she was old then. "It's A Wonderful Life " was over 10 years later - still old, and "A Summer Place", over another 10 years, and still old. Then she ended up on "The Waltons" over 10 years after that ! Freaky.

by TCM habituatereply 18907/07/2014

This thread could easily go to 500

by TCM habituatereply 109/26/2013

I loved Beulah in Penny Serenade and Finishing School

by TCM habituatereply 209/26/2013

Beulah was on the "Waltons" in 1976 - which means she was 87. When she played Jimmy Stewart's mother in "IAWL" , she would have been 57.

by TCM habituatereply 309/26/2013

Aline MacMahon. 1930s comic actress. Also did some serious work when she got the chance. Nominated for an Academy Award. She has a really touching quality to her that's hard to explain.

by TCM habituatereply 409/26/2013

R4 Saw her as an old woman, playing Judy's dresser in "I Could Go On Singing". Didnt know she had been around that long.

by TCM habituatereply 509/26/2013

S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall. He was in "Casablanca" (which I've never seen), but I know and love him as Mr. Otto Oberkugen, the music store owner who plays vile violin, in "In the Good Old Summertime" with DL favourite Judy Garland. Special mention to Spring Byington as Mr. Oberkugen's sweetheart.

by TCM habituatereply 609/26/2013

James Gleason.

by TCM habituatereply 709/26/2013

Paul Stewart

by TCM habituatereply 809/26/2013

Beulah was a natural beauty.

by TCM habituatereply 909/26/2013

Charles Coburn - made about 100 films, but I loved him in "In This Our Life", playing Bette Davis' lecherous, but generous, uncle. After she's had a hit & run, she goes to him for help - meanwhile, he's found out he doesn't have long to live, and is in shock. He quietly tells Bette that. Our girl, drama queen through, and through, stands up and says ' Dying ? Who cares if your're old uncle. But I'm in trouble !' Reminds me of lots of people I know.

by TCM habituatereply 1009/26/2013

DL favorite Majorie Main

by TCM habituatereply 1109/26/2013

I loved Bondi, who despite her career as a loving mother had a mean look under the softness that left her always looking like she hit the whisky straight when no one was looking. This played well in "Caged."

She shared this quality with the two Mothers in "Peter Gunn," Minerva Urecal and Hope Emerson.

Always old looking, yes. But handsome when young.

by TCM habituatereply 1209/26/2013

Hope Emerson - the huge, dykey prison matron in "Caged". Usually played really vile characters, but known in real life to be the nicest person. 6'2", 230 lbs.

by TCM habituatereply 1309/26/2013

Lloyd Nolan

by TCM habituatereply 1409/26/2013

R6 If you don't mind my asking, how or why have you never seen Casablanca? Just curious.

by TCM habituatereply 1509/26/2013

Gale Sondergaard!!

A great B-movie bitch/witch, and was unforgettable, even Oscar-worthy, in [italic] Anna and the King of Siam [italic/]

by TCM habituatereply 1609/26/2013

Claude Rains was always exceptional in every film I've ever seen him in - know Bette Davis always spoke really highly of him too.

by TCM habituatereply 1709/26/2013

Mary Wickes

Anne Revere (the understanding mother in National Velvet)

Gladys Cooper (the cold and hypercritical mother in Now, Voyager)

by TCM habituatereply 1809/26/2013

this one is too easy

by TCM habituatereply 1909/26/2013

Gabby Hayes

by TCM habituatereply 2009/26/2013

Beulah Bondi was also wonderful in "Remember the Night," which should shown during Christmas season along with "It's a Wonderful Life."

Great cast starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and written by the great Preston Sturges.

by TCM habituatereply 2109/26/2013


I was just about to mention Anne Revere. She always brilliantly portrayed mom characters - she could be a sweet and understanding mom (like in National Velvet or The Song of Bernadette) or a crazy religious mom (A Place in the Sun).

by TCM habituatereply 2209/26/2013

R15, it's due to an inexplicable gap in my otherwise encyclopaedic knowledge of good old b&w movies :) I blame my brother, who probably switched the channel to football just as it was coming on. Speaking of him, I once walked into the living room just in time to see the hero of the b&w movie currently on our TV put a ring on the finger of the heroine, who was languishing in bed. She then gave a contented sigh and a little smile and perished. I asked, "What happened? Why did she die???" My smart-ass brother replied, "The ring was too heavy." Maybe you had to be there. Thank you for asking, R15. It brought back that memory and made me smile.

by TCM habituatereply 2309/26/2013

I love Roland Young, especially as Blore in "And then there were none" and Uncle Willie in the Philadelphia Story.

by TCM habituatereply 2409/26/2013

Frank Morgan

Una Merkel

Allen Jenkins

Spring Byington

Lionel Barrymore

Lucile Watson

by TCM habituatereply 2509/26/2013

All those great old guys who played the 7 professors in Ball of Fire opposite Stanwyck.

That film was character actor heaven.

by TCM habituatereply 2609/26/2013


by TCM habituatereply 2709/26/2013

DAMMIT! Beat me to it, r27!

by TCM habituatereply 2809/26/2013

Ian Wolfe.

by TCM habituatereply 2909/26/2013

I think the OP means the actors had long careers in which you can never recall them looking any younger. A lot of those '30s players don't really apply for they were dead by 1950.

by TCM habituatereply 3009/26/2013

Eugene Pallette, the frog-voiced father in My Man Godfrey and the friar in Mark of Zorro (1940).

by TCM habituatereply 3109/26/2013

Marie Dressler

IMO, the most interesting of the snooty actresses.

by TCM habituatereply 3209/26/2013

Una Merkel was a lot of fun, from her early days as Ginger Rogers' sidekick in 42ND ST. right through the 60s when she popped up in Disney films like THE PARENT TRAP which also featured the delightful Charles Ruggles in his usual role as an elegant but impish gentleman.

Grady Sutton was hilarious, usually cast as a befuddled but well-meaning oaf.

by TCM habituatereply 3309/26/2013

Thelma Ritter (unless she's too late for "old time.")

Doro Merande

ZaSu Pitts

Donald Meek

by TCM habituatereply 3409/26/2013

That old broad who played Kate Hepburn's auntie in Bringing Up Baby....was it May Robson? She's also fabulous in Dinner at Eight Billie Burke's drunk cook.

by TCM habituatereply 3509/26/2013

Billie Burke.

Don't take her for granted.

by TCM habituatereply 3609/26/2013

Charlotte Greenwood

by TCM habituatereply 3709/26/2013

How old is old-time? Thelma Ritter and Jessie Royce Landis.

by TCM habituatereply 3809/26/2013

Frank Nelson - he could hold his own with the Fab Four

by TCM habituatereply 3909/26/2013

Mary Boland Jane Darwell R27, yes Franklin Pangborn! R35, yes May Robson!

by TCM habituatereply 4009/26/2013

The phrase "still old" is brilliant.

by TCM habituatereply 4109/26/2013

Claude Rains was a big star; you can't put him in this category.

by TCM habituatereply 4209/26/2013

There was a great book on the subject: Who was that?

by TCM habituatereply 4309/26/2013

Guy Kibbee, Eric Blore, Ward Bond, Edward Everett Horton etc.

by TCM habituatereply 4409/26/2013

Una O'Connor. You may not recognize her name, but you'll know her face, She played old ladies from 1930's through 1950's. (Robin Hood; Witness for the Prosecution)

by TCM habituatereply 4509/26/2013

Bill Quinn.

He was Bob Newhart's father-in-law.

by TCM habituatereply 4609/26/2013

There has always been a rumor in hollywood that Zasu Pitts was Nancy Reagan's mother.

by TCM habituatereply 4709/26/2013

r47, Nancy's mom and Pitts were friends. Pitts gave Nancy her first acting role on Broadway that Pitts was in.

by TCM habituatereply 4809/26/2013

I think we'd all like to say Margaret Hamilton but would be hard pressed to name a second film. Why didn't get any god roles after WoO?

by TCM habituatereply 4909/26/2013

Will someone at DL turn off the italics please?

by TCM habituatereply 5009/26/2013

Judging from OP's OP, "Old time" means classic Hollywood - 1930s/40s. Thelma Ritter is probably borderline-too-late and an actor from the Bob Newhart Show would almost certainly not belong. Please correct me OP if I'm wrong.

by TCM habituatereply 5109/26/2013

Clarence Kolb. Usually the stuffy, old rich guy, but inside was sometimes a softie(especially for a pretty girl) And all those actors who played the crime reporters at the prison, in "His Girl Friday." Richard Lamparski's books are a goldmine for this topic, as well as the two "Character People" and "More Character People" books by Ken D.Jones, Arthur F. McClure and Alfred E.Twomey.

by TCM habituatereply 5209/26/2013

Edward Everett Horton film debut 1922, more than 120 films, worked nearly up until his death in 1970.

From silent films, thru the talkies to TV. He always looked the same to me and I always enjoy seeing him.

His nickname: MARY

by TCM habituatereply 5309/26/2013


Bill Quinn was Bob Newhart's father-in-law in real life, not on the show.

He had 198 acting credits, but his career was in television, not movies.

by TCM habituatereply 5409/26/2013

R53, you read my mind. I love Edward Everett Horton.

Also Thelma Ritter.

by TCM habituatereply 5509/26/2013

Herbert Mundin, probably best known as the peasant who falls for Maid Marian's servant in Adventures of Robin Hood.

by TCM habituatereply 5609/26/2013

Elizabeth Patterson -- adorable as Mrs. Trumbull on "I Love Lucy" and equally adorable as Aunt Emma in "Remember the Night."

by TCM habituatereply 5709/26/2013

Adeline De Walt Reynolds.

She was born in 1862 and died in 1960. She didn't start acting until 1940, but MGM would trot her out to play really old women, and once you know who she is you'll see her a lot and you swear she might drop dead before the scene is over.

Probably best known as the old Irish mother of Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way.

by TCM habituatereply 5809/26/2013


by TCM habituatereply 5909/26/2013

You're welcome!

by TCM habituatereply 6009/26/2013

I thought E E Horton was known for doing voiceover work on Rocky & Bullwinkle?

by TCM habituatereply 6109/26/2013

Yes Rocky and B and Fractured Fairytales. The guy did everything.

by TCM habituatereply 6209/26/2013

Ernest Thesiger Marie Dressler (actually a huge box-office star at the beginning of her film career)

by TCM habituatereply 6309/26/2013

Until recently, I had no idea that Joan Blondell of "Here Come the Brides" had been a genuine actress years earlier.

by TCM habituatereply 6409/26/2013

The one who played the lady who killed that horrible woman who knitted while the guillotine was in operation, in "A Tale of Two Cities". Sorry, I don't know her name. I think she acted with another favorite of mine, James Gleason, in a whodunnit.

by TCM habituatereply 6509/26/2013

Glenda Farrell & Joan Blondell made every film better.

by TCM habituatereply 6609/26/2013

Elisha Cook, Jr.

John Qualen; esp. in "Out of the Fog".

Thomas Mitchell; in the same film, and as the father in "The Fighting Sullivans".

by TCM habituatereply 6709/26/2013

Bill Quinn played MTM's father in an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Their most famous scene:

Mary Richards' mother: Don't forget to take your pill.

Mary and her father at the same time: I won't.

by TCM habituatereply 6809/26/2013

Ditto for Eve Arden.

(Eve in Technicolor in drop-dead clothes & hats from COVER GIRL)

by TCM habituatereply 6909/26/2013

Edna May Oliver was a terrific hatchet-faced crone, usually prickly but also lovable when a role permitted. DL might know her best as Lady Catherine from the Greer Garson PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. She is perfect as the stern Aunt March in the Katherine Hepburn LITTLE WOMEN and sublime as Aunt Betsey Trotwood in the 1935 DAVID COPPERFIELD.

A previous poster thought Margaret Hamilton disappeared after OZ but she didn't. She plays a moral crusader in MY LITTLE CHICKADEE whose Temperance and Puritanism menace W.C. Fields and Mae West. She is the spooky maid in the camp classic THIRTEEN GHOSTS. She made nearly two dozen films before OZ and many dozens more afterwards. She had something of a renaissance on TV in the 70s, acting in programs and commercials and making many personal appearances.

by TCM habituatereply 7009/26/2013

Butterfly McQueen

Hattie McDaniel

Charles Bickford

Donald Crisp

Elsa Lanchester

by TCM habituatereply 7109/26/2013


You are thinking of Edna May Oliver, who played Miss Pross in "A Tale of Two Cities".

Edna actually made three comedy-mysteries with James Gleason: "Penguin Pool Murder", "Murder on the Blackboard", and "Murder on a Honeymoon".

by TCM habituatereply 7209/26/2013

(R72) Thanks, and I'll get to know more as I go. Anyway, an acquaintance told me that if there were supporting actress nominations in those days, the actress whose character was killed would be nominated. I think he said her name was Blanche Yurka. Will google that name.

by TCM habituatereply 7309/26/2013

Blanche Yurka was involved in one if the great murder scandals, the death of tobacco heir Smith Reynolds.

by TCM habituatereply 7409/27/2013

Jane Darwell sitting in front of the little fire that is burning up some of her memories in "The Grapes Of Wrath" is one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever.

Nice page of pics of a lot of character actors on Pinterest.

by TCM habituatereply 7509/27/2013

Which character actor of yore possessed the manliest bulge?

by TCM habituatereply 7609/27/2013

Harry Davenport played Dr. Meade in Gone With The Wind, the grandfather in Meet Me in St. Louis and was in almost every other movie at several studios from the 1930s till his death in 1949 at 83.

Samuel S. Hinds also pops up a a lot.

by TCM habituatereply 7709/27/2013

Aline McMahon was terrific in I COULD GO ON SINGING, she made a lot out of a role that barely existed on the page.

Beulah was hilarious in MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW a terrible 1937 Leo McCarey schmaltzfest - where she was in her 40s and playing an old woman in her 70s, its hilarious seeing how they saw old then, as she shuffles around being very annoying!

by TCM habituatereply 7809/27/2013

Maria Ouspenskaya - from Garbo films in the 30s.

Marjorie Main

Charlotte Greenwood

Una Merkel

Una O'Connor

Jessie Royce Landis

Estelle Winwood

Elsa Lanchester

Thelma Ritter & Agnes Moorehead were big names so dont belong on here.

by TCM habituatereply 7909/27/2013

Blanche Yurka ! - what a name, great in THE FURIES and out west with Susan and Jeff in THUNDER IN THE SUN.

by TCM habituatereply 8009/27/2013

r70: Hamilton and Garland both went directly into BABES IN ARMS after finishing OZ.

Hamilton plays another Elmira Gultch who wants to send the parentless kids to go into a work farm, but Judy & Mickey want to put on a show! It's wonderfully strange seeing her and Judy together again!

by TCM habituatereply 8109/27/2013

Constance Collier, who plays the aged annoying drama coach in Stage Door.

Norma Varden, who plays Charles Coburn's wife "Mrs. Piggy" in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Frau Schmidt in The Sound of Music.

Dennie Moore, who plays Olga the Mancurist in The Women.

Dame May Whitty, who plays Miss Froy in The Lady Vanishes.

Sara Haden, who played Andy Hardy's maiden aunt.

by TCM habituatereply 8209/27/2013

MARY BOLAND (in everything)!!!!!!!!

You bitches are slipping.

by TCM habituatereply 8309/27/2013

Not a favorite, but Ellen Corby always played old and was in zillions of things before The Waltons.

by TCM habituatereply 8409/27/2013

Mary Young ...

Barbara Pepper

by TCM habituatereply 8509/27/2013

Ellen Corby's birth name was Hansen, the family in "I Remember Mama" in which she played Trina.

by TCM habituatereply 8609/27/2013

On NBC radio's "The Big Show" when asked where Libby Holman was Tallulah replied "between murders."

by TCM habituatereply 8709/27/2013

Nedra Voltz

Here is a scene of her, as Loretta, in 1985's "Moving Violations" . . .

by TCM habituatereply 8809/27/2013

Billie Burke, most famous as Glinda, but one of my favorite scenes ever is her aspic monologue. It's not funny viewed on its own but in the context of the movie it's hilarious.

by TCM habituatereply 8909/27/2013

Actually, it is pretty funny out of context. "Crab meat. CRAB MEAT!"

Billie Burke from Dinner at Eight.

by TCM habituatereply 9009/27/2013

But May Robson steals every scene she's in with Billie right out under her nose.

by TCM habituatereply 9109/27/2013

Edward Arnold - always felt he was underrated.

by TCM habituatereply 9209/27/2013

I guess my question is why don't movies have character actors today? If they need one, it's usually some big star putting on a putty nose and making a cameo. Why did Hollywood quit using character actors? The last one I can think of was Don Knotts.

by TCM habituatereply 9309/27/2013

R93 I think Hollywood stopped using character actors around the time it stopped using actors.

by TCM habituatereply 9409/27/2013

R92 I was going to mention Edward Arnold; he was a great one.

by TCM habituatereply 9509/27/2013

Charles Lane owns this thread!

by TCM habituatereply 9609/27/2013


by TCM habituatereply 9709/27/2013

Eric Blore and Melville Cooper--both in "The Lady Eve."

Selena Royle, so good in "The Damned Don't Cry."

Fortunio Bonanova, the voice teacher in "Citizen Kane."

by TCM habituatereply 9809/27/2013

Marion Lorne

by TCM habituatereply 9909/27/2013

Mary Nash,that bitch who tries to sell Shirley Temple to the gypsies, in "Heidi." Connie Gilchrist, everybody's favorite Irish apartment house neighbor, and played Nora in "Auntie Mame."

by TCM habituatereply 10009/27/2013

R83, Mary Boland was already mentioned here. See, R40.

by TCM habituatereply 10109/27/2013

Mischa Auer, Guy Kibbee and Laurel and Hardy's best foil, Jimmy Finlayson

by TCM habituatereply 10209/27/2013

Janet jackson

by TCM habituatereply 10309/27/2013

Jack Elam always makes me laugh.

He's even funnier when you know he was a cost accountant by training, and he had a glass eye because it was poked out with a pencil. He was working as an accountant for Hopalong Cassidy and they were short of extras one day.

by TCM habituatereply 10409/27/2013

Margaret Dumont

Edward Andrews

Cheerio Meredith

by TCM habituatereply 10509/27/2013

Edna May Oliver

by TCM habituatereply 10609/27/2013

No love for Walter Brennan?

He was possibly the most respected character actor of the 1930s, winning 3 Supporting Oscars in less than 6 years.

by TCM habituatereply 10709/27/2013

R107. He was also a rabid conservative who allegedly cheered wih happiness when he heard that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. And he didn't deserve an of those Oscars--he started out as an extra and, back then, extras could vote, so he had a very large voting base who wanted to support one of thir own.

by TCM habituatereply 10809/27/2013

There are so many. Charlie Ruggles--loved his interactions with Maureen O'Hara in THE PARENT TRAP. Cecil Kellaway, Ruth McDevitt, Elsa Lanchester, Monty Woolley, Thomas Mitchell.... THE BISHOP'S WIFE, in addition to being my favorite Christmas movie, is a gold mine of great character actors. Margaret Hamilton also played Hester Frump, Morticia's mother, on "The Addams Family."

by TCM habituatereply 10909/27/2013

Ida Moore, elderly, twinkle-eyed character actress in films from the mid-40s who specialized in playing eccentric old ladies.

by TCM habituatereply 11009/27/2013

William Demarest - Uncle Charlie from MY THREE SONS - played many a great character part earlier in his career. He is at his best as Betty Hutton's irascible father in THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK, directed by Hollywood's "Gayest Wizard," according to this trailer, Preston Sturges.

by TCM habituatereply 11109/27/2013

R107, the love for him and his Oscars all came from the trades, who exercised their votes as a bloc to show their strength against the studio preferences.

While I enjoyed some of his performances, he was a nasty conservative who would fit well in today's hate-filled political world. He had every right to actively support Goldwater in 1964 and call for school prayer and say things against the civil rights movement, claiming that Communists were behind agitating otherwise complacent blacks. But this anecdote tells the story behind the man I do not love:

"Those on the set of his last series, "The Guns of Will Sonnett" (1967) - in which he played the surprisingly complex role of an ex-army scout trying to undo the damage caused by his being a mostly absentee father - said that he cackled with delight upon learning of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, and several crew members recalled how he actually danced a spontaneous jig when he heard of King's murder."

In other words, a rotten-souled asshole.

by TCM habituatereply 11209/28/2013

Another vote for Marie Dressler. I recently read her autobiography--interesting life. She died right after she won an academy award when she was 60 I think.

by TCM habituatereply 11309/28/2013

The elders are coming out of their nursing homes for this thread.

by TCM habituatereply 11409/28/2013

Special mention to BILLY GILBERT who was in scores of films throughout the 30s to the 60s but might be most remembered for playing Joe Pettibone who comes in as a sort of deus ex machine to save he day at the end of His Girl Friday.

by TCM habituatereply 11509/28/2013

Whoever said Janet Jackson ... hahaha good one!

My fav older actor is Jerry Stiller. He basically plays the same damn character all the time but he's funny as hell.

by TCM habituatereply 11609/28/2013

The Wizard of Oz himself, Frank Morgan.

by TCM habituatereply 11709/28/2013

R113, I loved Marie Dressler. Her range between "Min and Bill" and "Tugboat Annie" on one side and "Dinner at Eight" on the other was wonderful, especially since she used a lot of the same schtick for both character types.

"Oh, my dear, that's something YOU need never worry about," was so perfectly delivered.

by TCM habituatereply 11809/28/2013

Wallace Beery

Freddie Bartholomew

J. Carroll Nash

Zachary Scott

C.Z. "Cuddles" Zakal

Marjorie Main

Sir Cedric Hardwick

by TCM habituatereply 11909/28/2013

Gladys Cooper and Cathleen Nesbitt, who were virtually interchangeable.

by TCM habituatereply 12009/28/2013

Cathleen Nesbitt was great as the mother of Congressman Morley on "The Farmer's Daughter" TV series with Inger Stevens. And then there was Mildred Natwick who, along with Helen Hayes, starred in "The Snoop Sisters."

by TCM habituatereply 12109/28/2013

Margaret Rutherford

by TCM habituatereply 12209/28/2013

(R87) LOL! You probably already know this Tallulah anecdote: Seems she was being interviewed on radio, by the powerful New York columnist, Earl Wilson.

Wilson: "Has anyone ever mistaken you for a man?" Tallulah: "No, darling; how 'bout you?"

by TCM habituatereply 12309/28/2013

As a child, I had a crush on Henry Hull.

by TCM habituatereply 12409/28/2013

R112 never knew any of this about Walter Brennan - watched "The Real McCoys" as a kid, and now have a totally different take on this guy. If true, good riddance. No RIP for him.

by TCM habituatereply 12509/28/2013

I used to watch repeats of Guns of Will Sonnet, largely for eye candy Dack Rambo and his tight kakhis. For someone whose son became a gun slinger, Brennan's character was holier than thou, often judgmental, spouting moral platitudes and often citing scripture. I think every episode ended with him thanking the Lord as the rode off. If he had any input into that character, I can definitely see him being ultra conservative

by TCM habituatereply 12609/28/2013

Mary Wicks

by TCM habituatereply 12709/28/2013

I'm with R127: Mary Wickes. From her first appearances in "Now Voyager" and "Man Who Came to Dinner" until her last ones in Sister Act and Postcards from the Edge, a great character actress.

by TCM habituatereply 12809/28/2013

For those of you interested, please watch the documentary That guy who was in that thing. It tells a lot about the life of character actors.

by TCM habituatereply 12909/28/2013

Walter Brennan was great the first time he was the mystery guest on "What's my Line." The panelists that episode were Dorothy Kilgallen, Adolph Menjou, Greer Garson and Bennett Cerf.

by TCM habituatereply 13009/28/2013

They were each inimitable in their own way but I wonder if Mary Wickes and Thelma Ritter were up for any of the same roles?

I'm thinking Thelma had the slight edge of being able to effortlessly project a certain pathos into comedy that would have eluded Mary.

by TCM habituatereply 13109/28/2013

Kathleen Freeman

by TCM habituatereply 13209/28/2013

Rosemary deCamp played idealized and endearing mothers in Yankee Doodle Dandy and those 2 early Doris Days musicals By the Light of the Silvery Moon and On Moonlight Bay. I just loved her!

Leon Ames played the father in the last two, as well as in Meet Me in Saint Louis. He was also great.

by TCM habituatereply 13309/28/2013


And then the usuals from Warners: Peter Lorre (who sometimes starred), Sydney Greenstreet, Conrad Veidt, etc.

by TCM habituatereply 13409/28/2013

Raymond Massey!


by TCM habituatereply 13509/28/2013

No one has any love for Florence Bates?

First female lawyer in Texas, her first role in Rebecca is amazing, and then she goes on to work for her friend Joe Mankiewicz and others playing these amazing dowagers.

by TCM habituatereply 13609/28/2013

Burt Mustin was in every 60s & 70s sitcom multiple times; according to Wikipedia, he didn't even start acting until he was 67.

by TCM habituatereply 13709/28/2013

OH, and I found him by googling, "old man on All in the Family."

by TCM habituatereply 13809/28/2013

R126, love Florence Bates. In Rebecca's it's the image of her putting her cigarette out in the cold cream, plus her speech before she leaves, "You haven't deluded yourself into thinking he loves you?.....Mrs. DeWinter? Hmmf. Goodbye dear and good luck."

Also Florence Bates in Heaven Can Wait.

by TCM habituatereply 13909/28/2013

What a great thread. Every single one of my favorites has been mentioned.

by TCM habituatereply 14009/28/2013

Has Iris Adrian been mentioned?

by TCM habituatereply 14109/28/2013

[quote]Has Iris Adrian been mentioned?


by TCM habituatereply 14209/28/2013

Another vote for Iris Adrian. I'll throw in Patsy Kelly and Reta Shaw for good measure.

by TCM habituatereply 14309/28/2013

Mildred Natwick was the best.

Also, Judith Lowry, who played Mother Dexter on the "Phyllis" spinoff, as well as many other character roles.

by TCM habituatereply 14409/28/2013

Reta Shaw!! Yes!!

by TCM habituatereply 14509/28/2013

Elsa Lanchester

by TCM habituatereply 14609/28/2013

Everyone who cares enough about this topic to have read this far in the thread should definitely check out the new biography MARY WICKES: I KNOW I'VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. I saw it in Barnes and Noble and picked it up to glance at it, and hours later I was still there reading. The author clearly did years of research of archives, letters, and interviews with whoever that knew her would talk to him, so - however interested you may or may not be in Mary Wickes specifically - it just becomes engrossing to see the level of detail usually reserved only for stars instead lavished on somebody who lived the life of a character actor.

It's sort of a sad book, too - she seems to have been sort of a bitter and unhappy person. She was extremely close to Lucille Ball, so there's a lot in there from Lucie Arnaz about their relationship. The author also basically asked everybody whether or not they thought Mary was a lesbian, which there are differing guesses on - but either way, there doesn't seem to be any evidence she ever had an intimate relationship. There are conflicting accounts about whether she once had sex with a man in her twenties.

by TCM habituatereply 14709/28/2013

Barry Fitzgerald

Hugely popular Oscar-winning character actor in his day but, I'm guessing, not very fondly remembered today.

by TCM habituatereply 14809/29/2013

Don't forget me!

by TCM habituatereply 14909/29/2013

I vote for Aline McMahan too. Just the best

by TCM habituatereply 15010/21/2013

Barry Fitzgerald's twinkly Irish codger shtick hasn't worn well.

Allan Jenkins and Glenda Farrell: Two more smart-talking Warner's wiseasses.

Does Jack Carson count? One of the most versatile and underrated actors of The Golden Age. The man could do anything: Drama, comedy, musical, Westerm, Noir.

by TCM habituatereply 15110/21/2013

The horse-faced Edna May Oliver, one of the greats. My favorite is the 1939 uber-patriotic "Drums along the Mohawk" as World War II was looming on the horizon.

Marjorie Main was wonderful in Tugboat Annie and Ma Kettle, roles that were perfect for her unique charms..

by TCM habituatereply 15210/21/2013

r120 Two of my faves, but Cooper always had that "edge" that Nesbitt never seemed to. They must've been the beauties of their day. A shout out for Beah Richards, she played Sidney Poitier's mother in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." She spent many a movie providing loving and tearful maternal affection.

by TCM habituatereply 15310/22/2013

Judi Dench - she is so stupendous!

by TCM habituatereply 15410/22/2013

Any Preston Sturges film is loaded with great character actors.

by TCM habituatereply 15510/22/2013

Love this thread.

by TCM habituatereply 15606/28/2014

Mary Wickes. She was just outstanding in everything she ever was in.

by TCM habituatereply 15706/28/2014

So many but among my favorites:

Thelma Ritter

Agnes Moorehead

Dame Judith Anderson

Eve Arden

Norma Varden

Gladys Cooper

Alice Pearce

Jack Carson

Charles Coburn

Fred Clark

Dan Duryea

by TCM habituatereply 15806/28/2014


by TCM habituatereply 15906/29/2014

Ruth McDevitt

Peggy Ann Garner

Janet Munro

Deborah Whalley

by TCM habituatereply 16006/29/2014

Henry Daniell George Sanders

by TCM habituatereply 16106/29/2014

Numerous favorites in the character actor category. I saw a silent film which featured young, Donald Crisp. He was almost shirtless, and his muscular, shiny physique was dreamboat material.

Also loved Charles Bickford.

And the less physically impressive, but stll appealing John Qualen.

by TCM habituatereply 16206/29/2014

No love for Bess Flowers here? You seldom got to hear her speak, but you noticed her in the background of some 700+ films. She's the silver-haired elegant lady you see in the elevator, or the theater, or seated at the next table. She played the leading lady in the play that launched Lana Turner's character's career in "Imitation of Life"....she sat behind Lucy and Ethel when they went to see "Over the Teacups" for Ethel's birthday. She was everywhere!

by TCM habituatereply 16306/30/2014

Sydney Greenstreet

Gladys George

Diana Lynn

Eric Blore

Melville Cooper

Roland Young

Selena Royle

Misha Auer

Peter Lorre

Claude Rains

by TCM habituatereply 16406/30/2014


by TCM habituatereply 16506/30/2014

Re: Judith Lowery, it was a treat to see her as a young nurse rushing towards the camera at the climax of 1944's Miracle of Morgan;s Creek, shouting "FIVE! ALL BOYS!"

by TCM habituatereply 16606/30/2014

Mary Jackson and Helen Kleeb who portrayed Emily and Mamie Baldwin on "The Waltons," while sipping "The Recipe."

by TCM habituatereply 16706/30/2014

Max Von Sydow. Ancient, but going strong! Also, old Christopher Plummer, though not as a young man.

by TCM habituatereply 16806/30/2014

Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre are favorites of mine, too.

Both gave really arresting performances every single time it seems.

by TCM habituatereply 16906/30/2014

With "Anthony" from Designing Women dying, it reminded me of a great role that Beah Richards had on that series. She played a 102 year old woman on her death bed who still had her mind intact and she imparted some of life's lessons to the women and Anthony as they waited for the birth of Charlene's baby in the hospital.

When she died, she was escorted off this world by a spirit played by the one and only Dolly Parton as Linda Ronstadt sang "Somewhere Out There." Very touching.

by TCM habituatereply 17006/30/2014

r170 If you want to see a great performance by Beah Richards(and especially Conchata Farrell), check out "The Bridge" episode of the sitcom "Frank's Place." Heart rending,and coming from truth. A real winner. I wonder how many actors had Miss Richards for a mom?

by TCM habituatereply 17106/30/2014

Gosh there were so many greats. Thelma Ritter I guess

by TCM habituatereply 17206/30/2014

Andy Devine

by TCM habituatereply 17306/30/2014

Bess Flowers was an extra

by TCM habituatereply 17406/30/2014

The funny Gay Divorcée guys: Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes, and Eric Blore.

by TCM habituatereply 17506/30/2014

Alan Hale Sr. was a decent and versatile actor who could be quite funny.

It's always fun to see William Frawley pop up in one of his many small film roles, knowing that TV immortality awaits him at a later age.

by TCM habituatereply 17606/30/2014

I love old Westerns, so two of my favorites are Eli Wallach and Jack Elam.

Although he worked on the stage and was sometimes cast as the lead, Walter Huston was an excellent character actor.

by TCM habituatereply 17707/01/2014

Another vote for Gale Sondergaard who gets all stabby on Bette Davis at the end of "The Letter."

Great performance.

by TCM habituatereply 17807/01/2014

Maria Ouspenskaya

Marjorie Main

Mary Wickes

Helen Broderick

Joan Blondell

Eve Arden

Agnes Moorehead

Themla - of course

Blanche Zurka

Beulah Bondi - hilarious in her 40s made up to look "old" in 1937's Make Way For Tomorrow, a gruesome Capra so-called comedy about old people. Beulah is excruciating shuffling around not realising how irritating she is.

Fay Bainter !

by TCM habituatereply 17907/01/2014

Florence Bates in both Rebecca and A Letter to 3 Wives.

Charles Bickford, I love his studio head in A Star Is Born, plus in The Big Country, Days of Wine & Roses

Vincent Price

Dame Flora Robson

Dame Edith Evans

Dame Celia Johnson.

by TCM habituatereply 18007/01/2014

Gladys Cooper - another Dame. Nasty to Bette and Deborah (Separate Tables).

by TCM habituatereply 18107/01/2014

I disagree with R87's assessment of MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW. If you haven't seen it, do so and make sure you keep the tissues handy. Beulah Bondi is amazing in that film.

by TCM habituatereply 18207/01/2014

oops, not R87. Whatever, someone said MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW was bad and I disagree.

by TCM habituatereply 18307/01/2014

Beaulah Bondi was also delightful as the sour-prune submissive wife of the moralizing missionary in Joan Crawford's RAIN.

Funny story about Beaulah: She got tremendous praise for her screen test as Ma Joad in THE GRAPES OF WRATH. Confident she had won the role, Bondi bought an old flivver and spent a week living in an actual migrant laborers' encampment in the rural desert. She returned from her immersion exercise only to learn that the part of Ma Joad had gone to Jane Darwell.

by TCM habituatereply 18407/01/2014

What makes me laugh about Make Way For Tomorrow is the 1930s version of "old" and how 70 year olds live today.

by TCM habituatereply 18507/02/2014

Jane Withers. I met her at a party once -- super nice lady.

by TCM habituatereply 18607/02/2014

Margaret Dumont. Wonderful character actor from the Marx Bros. movies. The consummate foil for Marx Bros. shenanigans. She did it so well, I used to wonder if she was acting.

by TCM habituatereply 18707/02/2014

Just read today in the Helen Gahagen Douglas bio that Zasu Pitts converted Ronald Reagan from Hollywood liberal to 1950 Republican Nixon fan!

by TCM habituatereply 18807/07/2014

How come no one started a thead about Bob Hasting's dying. Is it because he's not a negro?

by TCM habituatereply 18907/07/2014
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