Playing both star parts and choice supporting roles, Mary Boland was one of the most engaging and popular character actresses of the 1930s and '40s. She often played addle-pated matrons and is probably best remembered for her roles as the snobbish Effie Floud in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), the bawdy Countess De Lave in The Women (1939) and the anxious Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1940). Another memorable -- and typical -- role came in Three-Cornered Moon (1933), in which Boland plays the pixilated Mrs. Rimplegar, who gives away the family fortune to a swindler because he seemed "such a nice young man."
Born Marie Anne Boland in Philadelphia, Boland (1880-1965) was the daughter of an actor and began her career onstage at the age of 15. After appearing on Broadway in roughly a dozen productions, she made her debut in silent films in 1915. Five years later she returned to Broadway and made her mark as a comedienne. After an 11-year absence from films, she returned to Hollywood in 1931 under a contract with Paramount Pictures. For the next quarter of a century she continued working onstage, in such movies as Julia Misbehaves (1948), and on television.
By Roger Fristoe