Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Whaddya Say We Talk Edna May...

With a face like a shoebox, Edna May Oliver was another one of those glorious character people from films of the thirties with a patented bit.  She was typically the gruff, sharp tongued spinster or widowed aunt.  Queen of the 'take', she had two facial reactions, shock and withering disapproval.

Born in 1883 as Edna May Nutter (who names their kid Edna, anyhow?) in Malden, Mass., she passed away on her 59th birthday in 1942.  She was also a descendent of John Quincy Adams.  Before film success, she'd made it on Broadway for quite a few years including creating the roll of Parthy in "Show Boat".  She turned down the film version of "Show Boat" in order to play Nurse in MGM's star spectacle of "Romeo and Juliet", in which she was wonderful.  She was also given a much deserved Oscar nomination for her performance in 1939's "Drums Along The Mohawk".

My favorite Oliver performance ironically didn't include Edna at all!  The 1940 Warner Bros. cartoon, "The Hardship Of Miles Standish" has Oliver's 'image' as Priscilla Mullens (voiced perfectly by Sara Berner), with Hugh Herbert's (I'm sure I'll get around to him sometime) image as Miles and Elmer Fudd as John Alden.

Made in the days of sterotypes, at least the Pilgrims are portrayed as goofy and inept as the Indians.






8 comments:

Kabuki Zero said...

even at an early age my eyes were already looking eastward. The land of the rising sun and all that jazz. I feel like such a total cretin, but don't you have any "Tobor - the 8th Man" clips? No? Astroboy? Johnny Sokko and his flying robot? Gigantor? Oh nevermind, I'll just go watch Ultraman. kabuki.

FelixInHollywood said...

Kabuki Zero aka He Who Lives To Torture Me.

Soon to be aka (in honor of the MGM silent film of the same name) He Who Gets Slapped.

Miss Janey said...

Who's last name is Nutter?

normadesmond said...

Who's last name is Nutter?


uh, fluffa's?

normadesmond said...

edna is one of my most favorites!

and that she is from malden, mass is amazing. if you went to malden, you'd think nothing edna-like could spring from it,.

FelixInHollywood said...

I never played Malden, so I'll take your word for it.

Anonymous said...

Edna Mae Oliver is a descendant of John Quincy Adams! Oliver is also a descendant of Priscilla Mullens and John Alden (John Quincy Adams himself is a direct descendant of Mullens and John Alden). Priscilla's character is modeled after Edna Mae Oliver, a descendant of Mayflower!

ilduce said...

Having grown up near Malden (and trying to distance myself from it and environs ever since) Ia m equally amazed!

I got my first Dose of Edna via the aforementioned cartoon and from childhood on my eyes pick ed up on her forever after. Loved her in "Pride & Prejudice"!