Gertrude Hoffmann (actress)

  (Redirected from Gertrude Hoffman (actress))
Note: Often confused with Gertrude Hoffmann, the American-born dancer.

Gertrude W. Hoffmann (born Eliza Gertrude Wesselhoeft; May 17, 1871 – February 13, 1968) was a German-born American character actress who began her Hollywood career as she was entering her later years.

Gertrude W. Hoffmann
Eliza Gertrude Wesselhoeft

(1871-05-17)May 17, 1871
DiedFebruary 13, 1968(1968-02-13) (aged 96)
OccupationCharacter Actress
Years active1933-1963
Spouse(s)Ralph Hoffmann (1870-1932; his death); 3 children
ChildrenEleanor Hoffmann (1895-1990)
Walter Wesselhoeft Hoffmann (1897-1977)
Gertrude "Trude" Hoffmann (1904-2008)


Hoffmann was born on May 17, 1871,[1] at Heidelberg (German Empire), the daughter of Walter and Mary Sara Silver (née Fraser) Wesselhoeft.[2][3] Her father was a German-born doctor who at the time of her birth had left his medical practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia, behind to volunteer his services after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. He returned to North America in early 1873 and opened a general practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Gertrude was raised along with her six siblings.

Though German by birth, Dr. Wesselhoeft was raised in Cambridge where a number of his relatives had established themselves in the medical community there. He received his medical degree from Harvard University in 1859 and upon graduation began his practice in Halifax. In time he became associated with the Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital and a frequent lecturer at Boston University Medical School.[4] At the time of his death in 1920, aged 80, Dr. Wesselhoeft was Emeritus Professor of Clinical Medicine in the School of Medicine, a position he had held since 1908.[5]

Mary Fraser was a native of Halifax, and died in 1886, around the age of 40.[6][7][8][9] Dr. Wesselhoeft remarried in 1896 to Mary A. Leavitt, a native of Lowell, Massachusetts, and only a few years older than his eldest child.[10][11] Gertrude's youngest sister, Eleanor Wesselhoeft (1882–1945),[12] was a stage actress and playwright who also found some success late in life as a character actor in Hollywood.[13][14] Eleanor was married to Albert Christian Henderson von Tornow (1867–1938), a Shakespearean actor who performed under the stage name Albert Henderson.[15]


On June 23, 1894, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gertrude married Ralph Hoffmann (1870–1932), a native of Stockbridge, whose family had emigrated from Germany a generation earlier. He was a teacher of natural history and had a keen interest in ornithology. He co-founded the Alstead School of Natural History in Alstead, New Hampshire, and taught there for several summers while the rest of his year was spent teaching at Buckingham Browne and Nichols in Cambridge.[16]

From the spring of 1910 until 1917, he was headmaster of the Country Day School founded by Vassie Ward (1875-1954) in Kansas City, Missouri. He later was named director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in California. Ralph Hoffmann died from a fall while on a scientific expedition to California's Channel Islands in 1932.[17][18]

The couple had two daughters and a son. Eleanor Hoffmann was born on December 21, 1895, in Belmont, Massachusetts, and died on December 20, 1990, in Santa Barbara, California. Walter Wesselhoeft Hoffmann was born on December 20, 1897, in Belmont, Massachusetts, and died on May 7, 1977, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And their youngest child, Gertrude "Trudy" Hoffmann, was born on April 2, 1904, in Belmont, Massachusetts. Trudy married British composer Sir Arthur Bliss on June 1, 1925, in Santa Barbara, California, and relocated to London, England, where she lived until her death in 2008.[19]

Acting careerEdit

Gertrude W. Hoffmann's first Hollywood role was playing Mattie in Before Dawn that premiered on August 4, 1933. She would go on to have a thirty-year career as a character actor appearing in a number of movies and television shows. Among her credits are such films as Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent, which was nominated for Best Picture Oscar in 1941, as well as The File on Thelma Jordon (1950), Caged (1950), and The War of the Worlds (1953). She played Mrs. Odetts in the 1950s sitcom My Little Margie and made her final performance in an episode of the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? that aired in 1963.


Gertrude W. Hoffmann died on February 13, 1968 in Santa Barbara, California. She was interred at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.[20][21]


Year Title Role Notes
1917 Ein nasses Abenteuer
1918 The Blue Lantern Hilde
1919 Prinzessin Tatjanah Tatjana
1919 Sie können bei mir schlafen
1919 Heddas Rache
1919 Prostitution
1919 Die ums Leben spielen Ilona
1920 Das Geheimnis der Mitternachtsstunde
1920 Tagebuch meiner Frau
1920 Auri Sacra Fames, 1. Teil - An der Liebe Narrenseil
1920 Humanity Unleashed Rita, Clarenbachs Frau
1920 Auri Sacra Fames, 2. Teil - Das Testament eines Exzentrischen
1920 Satans Peitsche
1920 Rafaello - Das Rätsel von Kopenhagen 1
1920 Lepain - 6. Teil
1920 Lepain - 5. Teil
1920 Lepain, der König der Verbrecher - 4. Teil
1920 Lepain, der König der Verbrecher - 3. Teil
1920 Der Spitzel
1920 Der Schrecken der Millionäre
1921 Die Ratten
1921 Das Gewissen der Welt, 1. Teil - Schattenpflanzen der Großstadt Dama
1921 The Handicap of Love
1921 Kaschemmenadel
1922 Louise de Lavallière Marquise François Athenais von Montespan
1922 Der Fall Gembalsky
1923 Die Schlucht des Todes Countess Gabriela
1933 Before Dawn Mattie
1933 Hell and High Water Mom Wealin
1934 I'll Tell the World Aunt Louise Uncredited
1934 The Cat's-Paw Mrs. Noon - Cobb's Landlady Uncredited
1934 6 Day Bike Rider Old Lady Uncredited
1935 Les Misérables Nurse Uncredited
1936 A Son Comes Home Effie Wimple
1936 The Gentleman from Louisiana Miss Langley
1937 Mountain Justice Granny Burnside Uncredited
1938 Cassidy of Bar 20 Ma Caffrey
1939 Laugh It Off Carrie Uncredited
1940 East Side Kids Old Lady in Montage Uncredited
1940 Untamed Miss Rhine
1940 Foreign Correspondent Mrs. Benson
1940 The Ape Jane - Adrian's Housekeeper
1941 Lydia Mrs. Fairfield Uncredited
1941 One Foot in Heaven Elderly Woman Uncredited
1941 Suspicion Mrs. Wetherby Uncredited
1941 No Hands on the Clock Passerby Below Clock Uncredited
1942 North of the Rockies Flora Bailey
1942 The Wife Takes a Flyer Mrs. Gruyson Uncredited
1942 Texas Trouble Shooters Granny Wilson
1942 I Married an Angel Lady Gimcrack Uncredited
1942 Tish Spinster Uncredited
1942 Commandos Strike at Dawn Elderly Village Woman Uncredited
1943 The Moon Is Down Villager Uncredited
1943 Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case Grandmother Uncredited
1943 A Guy Named Joe Old Woman Uncredited
1943 What a Woman! Night Maid Uncredited
1944 The Heavenly Body Mrs. Potter's Mother Uncredited
1945 The Clock Old Woman Painter Uncredited
1946 The Bride Wore Boots Mrs. Harvey - Mason-Dixon Dames Club Woman Uncredited
1947 California Old Woman Uncredited
1947 Welcome Stranger Miss Wendy Uncredited
1949 Roseanna McCoy Old Woman at Campfire Uncredited
1950 The File on Thelma Jordon Aunt Vera Edwards
1950 Caged Millie Lewis Uncredited
1951 The Company She Keeps Mrs. Kaufman Uncredited
1951 Close to My Heart Mrs. Madison Uncredited
1953 The War of the Worlds Elderly News Vendor Uncredited
1955 Not as a Stranger Mrs. Payton Uncredited

External linksEdit


  1. ^ California Death Index
  2. ^ US Passport Application - October 15, 1889
  3. ^ 1880-1900 US Census Records
  4. ^ Cleveland Medical and Surgical Reporter, Volume 17-1906
  5. ^ Bostonia: Volumes 19-21
  6. ^ US Passport Application - 15 October 1889
  7. ^ 1880-1900 US Census Records
  8. ^ Walter Wesselhoeft - History of Homœopathy Biographies Presented by Sylvain Cazalet
  9. ^ Anniversary report, Volumes 3-4 by Harvard College; Class of 1890
  10. ^ US Passport Application for Mary Leavitt Wesselhoeft, April 17, 1922
  11. ^ 1900 US Census Records
  12. ^ California Death Jindex
  13. ^
  14. ^ 1900 US Census Records
  15. ^ The Hartford Courant, December 29, 1938
  16. ^ Anniversary report, Volumes 3-4 By Harvard College; Class of 1890
  17. ^ North Adams Transcript (July 23, 1932)
  18. ^ The Nevada State Journal (July 23, 1932)
  19. ^ The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts), March 28, 1975
  20. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 104. ISBN 9780786409839.
  21. ^ Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 345. ISBN 9780786479924.