May Whitty

Dame Mary Louise Webster, DBE (19 June 1865 – 29 May 1948), known professionally as May Whitty and later, for her charity work, Dame May Whitty, was an English stage and film actress. She was one of the first two women entertainers to become a Dame. The British actors union Equity was established in her home. After a successful career she moved over to Hollywood films at the age of 72. She went to live in America, where she won awards for her film roles.


May Whitty

Dame May Whitty.jpg
Born
Mary Louise Whitty

(1865-06-19)19 June 1865
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Died29 May 1948(1948-05-29) (aged 82)
Occupationstage and screen Actress
Years active1881–1948
Spouse(s)
(
m. 1892; died 1947)
Children2
RelativesMargaret Webster (daughter)

BackgroundEdit

Born in Liverpool, England, to William Alfred Whitty (ca. 1837–1876), a newspaper proprietor[1] and Mary Louisa (née Ashton, ca. 1837–1894). Her grandfather was, Michael James Whitty, Chief Constable in Liverpool and founder of the Liverpool Daily Post.[2] She made her first stage appearance in Liverpool in 1881, later moving to London to appear in the West End.[citation needed]

She married actor-manager Ben Webster on 3 August 1892 in St Giles's Parish Church, London.[3] 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 New York in 1905, Margaret Webster, was a producer and held dual US/UK citizenship. She was chair of the Actresses' Franchise League.[2] 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.[4] In March 1922, she played the role of Mrs. Bennet before the Queen in a benefit performance of Pride and Prejudice. She acted opposite her husband, who performed its Mr. Darcy.[5]

HonoursEdit

In the 1918 New Year Honours, 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 the First World War for the Three Arts Women's Employment Fund and the British Women's Hospitals Committee.[2] She was the first film and stage actress to receive a damehood, along with the opera singer Nellie Melba, who was also thus honoured in 1918.[citation needed]

Film career and deathEdit

I've got everything Betty Grable has—I've just had it longer.[4]

Whitty made her Hollywood film debut at the age of 72, recreating her 1935 stage role in the Hollywood film Night Must Fall (1937), which also starred Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell. She received an Oscar nomination. This led to several supporting roles in films, including that of the vanishing lady, Miss Froy, in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938).[2]

She moved permanently to the United States (although she never became a US citizen) in 1939 and appeared both on stage and in Hollywood films, usually playing 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.[2]

She continued to act for the remainder of her life and died on 29 May 1948 in Beverly Hills, California, from cancer at the age of 82;[2] her husband had died the previous year during surgery.

Stage rolesEdit

Dates are of the first performance.

Date (year, month, day) Title Author(s) City Theater Role
1890-02-14 The Home Feud Walter Frith London Comedy Theatre Helen Joliffe[6]
1890-07-04 Vanity of Vanities Justin Huntly McCarthy London Shaftesbury Theatre Princess Nicholas[7]
1891-01-07 Private Enquiry F. C. Burnand (based on Albert Valabrègue’s La Sécurité des Familles) London Royal Strand Theatre Mrs. Buckleigh[8]
1891-02-14 Turned Up Mark Melford London Royal Strand Theatre Sabina Medway[9]
1891-04-01 Linda Grey Sir Charles L. Young London Princes Lady Broughton[10]
1891-04-15 Our Daughters T.G. Warren & Willie Edouin London Royal Strand Theatre Nellie Mayhew[11]
1891-07-01 Mrs. Annesley J. F. Cooke London Criterion Theatre Estelle Brandreth[12]
1891-07-27 Fate and Fortune, or, The Junior Partner James J. Blood London Princess’s Grace Hasluck[13]
1892-01-06 The Showman’s Daughter"" Frances Hodgson Burnett London Royalty Theatre Linda Hurst[14]
1892-02-16 The Silver Shield Sydney Grundy London Vaudeville Theatre Lucy Preston[15]
1892-05-10 A Caprice Justin Huntly McCarthy, adapted from Alfred de Musset’s Un Caprice London Vaudeville Theatre Mathilde[16]
1892-05-25 The Noble Art Eille Norwood London Terry's Theatre Gertie Fullalove[17]
1892-05-26 In the Season Langdon Elwyn Mitchell London Vaudeville Theatre Sybil March[18]
1892-09-14 Our Boys Henry James Byron London Vaudeville Theatre Mary Melrose[19]
1893-01-28 The Guv’Nor Robert Reece (writing under the pseudonym “E.G. Lankester” London Vaudeville Theatre Aurelia[20]
1893-02-16 Flight Walter Frith London Terry's Theatre Mrs. Amherst[21]
1893-06-09 The Younger Son R.S. Sievier London Gaiety Theatre Evelyn Brookfield[22]
1893-06-19 The Adventures of a Night Meyrick Milton, adaptated from Los Empenos de Seis Horas by Pedro Calderón de la Barca London Royal Strand Theatre Donna Bianca[23]
1893-12-21 Beauty’s Toils Charles S. Fawcett, founded on Her Fatal Beauty by W.B. Maxell London Royal Strand Theatre Ethel Cumming[24]
1894-07-02 Our Flot Mrs. H. Musgrave London Royal Strand Theatre Margery Sylvester[25]
1895-03-12 A Loving Legacy Fred W. Sidney London Royal Strand Theatre Kitty O’Rourke[26]
1895-04-15 Fanny George Robert Sims and Cecil Raleigh London Royal Strand Theatre Grace Dormer[27]
1895-04-15 The Backslider Osmond Shillingford London Royal Strand Theatre Mrs. Agatha Dolomite[28]
1895-06-27 Louis XI Dion Boucicault, adaptated by Saimir Delavigne London Lyceum Theatre Marie[29]
1895-07-12 The Lyons Mail Charles Reader, adaptation of Le Courrier de Lyon, by Émile Moreau, Giraudin & Delacour London Lyceum Theatre Julie Lesurques[30]
1895-07-15 The Corsican Brothers Dion Boucicault, adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s The Corsican Brothers London Lyceum Theatre Emelie de l’Esparre[31]
1895-07-24 Macbeth William Shakespeare London Lyceum Theatre A gentlewoman[32]
1896-12-03 A Princess of Orange Fred James London Lyceum Theatre Louise, Princess of Orange[33]
1896-12-10 An Old Song Rev. Freeman Wills and A. Fitzmaurice King London Criterion Theatre Signora Sara Rosetti[34]
1897-12-23 Secret Service: A Romance of the Southern Confederacy William Gillette London Adelphi Theatre Edith Varney[35]
1898-12-03 Cupboard Love Henry V. Esmond London Court Rosamond Pilliner[36]
1899-06-06 The Heather Field Edward Martyn London Terry's Theatre Grace Tyrrell[37]
1899-09-04 The Last Chapter George H. Broadhurst London Royal Strand Theatre Katherine Blake[38]
1901-05-11 Toff Jim Fred Wright London Apollo Primrose[39]
1908-01-20 Irene Wycherley Anthony P. Wharton New York Astor Theatre Carrie Hardinge[40]
1910-03-01 The Sentimentalists George Meredith London Duke of York’s Dame Dresden[41]
1910-03-10 The Madras House Harley Granville-Barker London Duke of York’s Amelia Madras[42]
1910-04-05 Trelawny of the Wells Arthur Wing Pinero London Duke of York’s Miss Trafalgar Gower[43]
1910-11-18 The Home Coming Cicely Hamilton London Aldwych Mrs. Daly[44]
1911-05-08 The First Actress Christabel Marshall London Kingsway Peg Woffington[45]
1911-05-12 The Baron’s Wager Charles Young London Playhouse Clothislde, Marquise de Marsay[46]
1912-02-01 The Bear-Leaders R. C. Carton London Comedy Dowager Countess of Grimsdal[47]
1912-02-09 Edith Elizabeth Baker London Princess Mrs. Stott[48]
1912-08-12 Ready Money James Montgomery London New Mrs. John Tyler[49]
1913-03-31 A Matter of Money(First played in Glasgow under the title The Cutting of the Know) Cicely Hamilton London Little Mrs. Channing[50]
1913-03-11 Open Windows A.E.W. Mason London St. James’s Lady Cluffe[51]
1913-10-04 The Grand Seigneur Edward Ferris and Bertram P. Matthews London Savoy Comtesse Malise[52]
1914-09-08 The Impossible Woman C. Haddon Chambers London Savoy Mrs. Talcot[53]
1915-04-15 The Green Flag Keble Howard London Vaudeville Theatre Mrs. Kesteven[54]
1915-10-16 Iris Intervenes John Hastings Turner London Kingsway Mary Cumbers[55]
1916-02-28 The Arm of the Law Arthur Bourchier, adapted from La Robe Rouge by Eugène Brieux London His Majesty’s Mme. Vagret[56]
1916-05-28 The Eternal Snows Michael Orme [pseudonym for Alix Augusta Grein] London Criterion Theatre Mary Chartwell[57]
1917-04-09 The Passing of the Third Floor Back Jerome K. Jerome London Playhouse Cheat, Mrs. Sharpe, Lady of the House[58]
1917-07-27 Trelawny of the Wells Arthur W. Pinero London New Miss Trafalgar Gower[59]
1917-09-07 Trelawny of the Wells Arthur W. Pinero London New Miss Trafalgar Gower[60]
1922-03-01 The Enchanted Cottage Arthur Pinero London Duke of York’s Mrs. Corsellis[61]
1922-03-24 Pride and Prejudice Eileen H.A. Squire & J.C. Squire, adatped from Jane Austen’s novel London Palace Mrs. Bennett[62]
1922-05-18 Life’s a Game Michael Orme [pseud. Alix Augusta Grein] London Kingway Lady Raunds[63]
1922-12-04 Destruction Agnese de Llana London Royalty Theatre Ella Singleton[64]
1924-09-18 The Fool Channing Pollock London Apollo Mrs. Henry Gilliam[65]
1925-05-11 My Lady’s Dress Edward Knblock London Adelphi La Grisa[66]
1925-06-22 March Hares (The Temperamentalists) Harry Wagstaff Gribble London Little Mrs. Janet Rodney[67]
1925-09-22 The Last of Mrs. Cheyney Frederick Lonsdale London St. James’s Mrs. Ebley[68]
1927-12-27 Sylvia James Dyrenforth London Vaudeville Theatre Mrs. Considine[69]
1928-04-19 Come With Me Basil Dean and Margaret Kennedy London New Lady Alethea Zaidner[70]
1929-06-01 Sybarites H. Dennis Bradley London Arts Lady Byfleet[71]
1929-07-24 Gentlemen of the Jury Francis A. Campton London Arts Lady Blakeney[72]
1929-09-05 Dear Brutus J. M. Barrie London Playhouse Mrs. Coade[73]
1929-12-03 The Major Explains W.R. Walkes London Prince of Wales’s [unnamed role][74]
1929-12-03 The Amorists H. Dennis Bradley London Royalty Theatre Lady Byfleet[75]
1930-12-26 A Business Marriage Anonymous London Court Mrs. Mabley Jones[76]
1931-10-12 There's Always Juliet John Van Druten London Apollo Florence[77]
1931-10-12 There’s Always Juliet John Van Druten New York Empire Florence[78]
1932-08-16 Behold, We Live John van Druten London St. James’s Dame Frances Evers[79]
1932-10-02 Please Don’t Be Nervous Ann Stephenson London Shaftesbury Mother[80]
1933-08-08 In Vino Veritas Walter Hudd London Arts Oakley[81]
1933-08-08 The Long Christmas Dinner Thornton Wilder London Arts Mother Bayard[81]
1933-08-01 The Lake Dorothy Massingham (with Murray Macdonald) London Arts Mildred Surrege[82]
1933-08-01 The Lake Dorothy Massingham (with Murray Macdonald) London Westminster Mildred Surrege[83]
1933-11-29 Man Proposes Warren Chetham-Strode London Wyndham’s Mary Railton[84]
1934-05-03 The Voysey Inheritance Harley Granville-Barker London Sadler’s Wells Mrs. Voysey[85]
1934-06-14 Meeting At Night Marjorie Sharp London Globe Mrs. Crowborough[86]
1934-07-04 The Maitlands Ronald Mackenzie London Wyndham’s May Maitland[87]
1934-11-08 It Happened To Adam David Boehm London Duke of York’s Mrs. Sloane[88]
1935-03-11 Ringmaster Keith Winter London Shaftesbury Mrs. West[89]
1935-04-07 One Must Go On George Porter London Comedy Mrs. John Brown[90]
1935-05-31 Night Must Fall Emlyn Williams London Duchess Mrs. Bramson[91]
1935-12-01 Farm of Three Echoes Noel Langley London Wyndham’s Ouma Gerart[92]
1936-09-28 Night Must Fall Emlyn Williams New York Ethel Barrymore Theatre Mrs. Bramson[91]
1938-01-10 Your Obedient Husband Horace Jackson New York Broadhurst Theatre Mrs. Scurlock[93]
1938-05-23 Here’s To Our Enterprise Edward Knoblock London Lyceum Theatre [herself][94]
1940-05-09 Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare New York 51st Street Theatre Nurse to Juliet[95]
1941-04-08 The Trojan Women Euripides New York Cort Theatre Hecuba[96]
1945-10-09 Therese Thomas Job, based on Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola New York Biltmore Theatre Madame Raquin[97]

FilmographyEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ L.H.J., "Histrionic Geography," The Stage (2 March 1893), p. 9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Casson.
  3. ^ Grimalkin, "Chit Chat," The Stage (4 August 1892), p. 11.
  4. ^ a b Nissen.
  5. ^ Looser, Devoney (2017). The Making of Jane Austen. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 106. ISBN 1421422824.
  6. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 11.
  7. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 52.
  8. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 87.
  9. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 95.
  10. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 109.
  11. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 112.
  12. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 141.
  13. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 148.
  14. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 185.
  15. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 194-95.
  16. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 216.
  17. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 221.
  18. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 222.
  19. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 250.
  20. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 284.
  21. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 288.
  22. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 319.
  23. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 341.
  24. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 367.
  25. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 413.
  26. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 463.
  27. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 468.
  28. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 469.
  29. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 492-93.
  30. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 499-500.
  31. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 500.
  32. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 502.
  33. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 614.
  34. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 618.
  35. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 708-9.
  36. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 773.
  37. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 811.
  38. ^ Wearing 1976, p. 827.
  39. ^ Wearing 1981, p. 91.
  40. ^ Wearing 1981, p. 597.
  41. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 13.
  42. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 14.
  43. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 16.
  44. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 85.
  45. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 130.
  46. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 132.
  47. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 207-8.
  48. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 211.
  49. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 273.
  50. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 313.
  51. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 323.
  52. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 389.
  53. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 489.
  54. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 562.
  55. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 586.
  56. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 619.
  57. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 642.
  58. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 715.
  59. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 740.
  60. ^ Wearing 1982, p. 743-44.
  61. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 249.
  62. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 258.
  63. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 277.
  64. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 328.
  65. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 531-32.
  66. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 604.
  67. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 623.
  68. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 645.
  69. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 933-34.
  70. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 985.
  71. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 1141.
  72. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 1169.
  73. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 1175.
  74. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 1210.
  75. ^ Wearing 1984, p. 1210-11.
  76. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 127-28.
  77. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 250.
  78. ^ There's Always Juliet at the Internet Broadway Database
  79. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 364.
  80. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 377.
  81. ^ a b Wearing 1990, p. 425.
  82. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 442.
  83. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 446.
  84. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 530.
  85. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 588-89.
  86. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 608.
  87. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 615.
  88. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 650.
  89. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 701.
  90. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 710.
  91. ^ a b Wearing 1990, p. 731.
  92. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 801.
  93. ^ Your Obedient Husband at the Internet Broadway Database
  94. ^ Wearing 1990, p. 1124.
  95. ^ Romeo and Juliet at the Internet Broadway Database
  96. ^ The Trojan Women at the Internet Broadway Database
  97. ^ Therese Raquin at the Internet Broadway Database

Works consultedEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Alistair, Rupert (2018). "May Whitty". The Name Below the Title : 65 Classic Movie Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age (softcover) (First ed.). Great Britain: Independently published. pp. 252–254. ISBN 978-1-7200-3837-5.

External linksEdit