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.