Aline Macmahon


Actor
Aline Macmahon

About

Birth Place
McKeesport, Pennsylvania, USA
Born
May 03, 1899
Died
October 12, 1991
Cause of Death
Pneumonia

Biography

Tall, melancholy-looking character lead of exceptional versatility. MacMahon was moving in dramatic roles and, as a deft comedienne, excelled at playing wisecracking secretaries in "Five Star Final" (1931) and "The Mouthpiece" (1932). Immediately after graduating from Barnard College in 1920, she made her New York stage debut in "The Madras House" and her performance in the 1926 revival ...

Family & Companions

Clarence S Stein
Husband
Architect. Married in 1928; died in 1975; helped design Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, Temple Emmanuel in NYC, and helped plan Radburn, New Jersey.

Notes

"Aline MacMahon had a face like a tragic mask--heavy-lidded eyes under arched, thick brows, full lips. Perhaps that was why she was so unexpected as a comedienne, and why she was so good at it."--John Springer ("They Had Faces Then" 1974)

She is chairwoman, Equity Library Theater (1950), organized productions for community theaters.

Biography

Tall, melancholy-looking character lead of exceptional versatility. MacMahon was moving in dramatic roles and, as a deft comedienne, excelled at playing wisecracking secretaries in "Five Star Final" (1931) and "The Mouthpiece" (1932). Immediately after graduating from Barnard College in 1920, she made her New York stage debut in "The Madras House" and her performance in the 1926 revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Beyond the Horizon," was acclaimed by Noel Coward as "astonishing, moving and beautiful." Although MacMahon gave memorable performances as the forgotten first wife in "Silver Dollar" (1932) and won an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn's Chinese mother in "Dragon Seed" (1944), she is best remembered for playing sassy, snappy working women such as the fraudulent "voice-culture" teacher in George S. Kaufman's and Moss Hart's Hollywood spoof "Once in a Lifetime" (1932) and as the sarcastic, unemployed comedienne in "Gold Diggers of 1933."

After reprising her stage role as the grandmother in "All the Way Home," the 1964 film version of James Agee's memoir "A Death in the Family," MacMahon retired from film and returned to the stage, joining the Lincoln Center Repertory company in the 1960s and 70s.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Diamond Head (1963)
Kapiolani Kahana
I Could Go On Singing (1963)
Ida
All the Way Home (1963)
Aunt Hannah
The Young Doctors (1961)
Dr. Lucy Grainger
Cimarron (1960)
Mavis Pegler
The Man from Laramie (1955)
Kate Canaday
The Eddie Cantor Story (1954)
Grandma Esther
The Flame and the Arrow (1950)
Nonna Bartoli
Roseanna McCoy (1949)
Sarie McCoy
The Search (1948)
Mrs. Murray
The Mighty McGurk (1947)
Mamie Steeple
Dragon Seed (1944)
Ling's wife
Guest in the House (1944)
Aunt Martha Proctor
Stage Door Canteen (1943)
The Lady Is Willing (1942)
Buddy
Tish (1942)
Lizzie Wilkins
Out of the Fog (1941)
Florence Goodwin
Back Door to Heaven (1939)
Miss Williams
When You're in Love (1937)
Marianne Woods
While the Patient Slept (1935)
Sarah Keate
Mary Jane's Pa (1935)
Ellen Preston
Kind Lady (1935)
Mary Herries
Ah, Wilderness (1935)
Lily
I Live My Life (1935)
Betty [Collins]
Side Streets (1934)
Bertha [Krasnoff]
Heat Lightning (1934)
Olga
Babbitt (1934)
Myra Babbitt
Big Hearted Herbert (1934)
Elizabeth [Kalness]
The Merry Frinks (1934)
Mom [Hattie] Frink
The World Changes (1933)
Anna Nordholm
Heroes for Sale (1933)
Mary [Dennis]
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
Trixie [Lorraine]
The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933)
Auntie [Mrs. Moore]
The Heart of New York (1932)
Bessie
Week-end Marriage (1932)
Agnes
Silver Dollar (1932)
Sarah Martin
Once in a Lifetime (1932)
May Daniels
One Way Passage (1932)
[Barrel House] Betty [also known as Countess Berilhaus]
The Mouthpiece (1932)
Miss Hickey
Life Begins (1932)
Miss Bowers
Five Star Final (1931)
Miss Taylor

Cast (Special)

God Rest Ye Merry (1971)
Narrator

Life Events

1921

Stage debut in "The Madras House" at the Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC

1921

Broadway debut in "The Mirage"

1926

First stage success in revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Beyond the Horizon"

1931

Film debut, "Five Star Final"

1952

TV debut, "The Town" on "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse"

1975

Final stage role in New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Trelawny of the Wells"

Videos

Movie Clip

Five Star Final (1931) - I Thought I Was Cynical Editor Randall (Edward G. Robinson) with sleazy reporter Isopod (Boris Karloff), sexpot new gal Kitty (Ona Munson) and world-weary secretary Miss Taylor (Aline MacMahon), launching a cruel exposè, in Five Star Final, 1931.
Cimarron (1960) - You're Gonna Get Buried Here Bustle on April 21, 1889, eve of the Oklahoma Land Rush, Yancey and Sabra (Glenn Ford, Maria Schell) meet his old friends the Peglers (Robert Keith, Aline MacMahon) and intervene as Yountis (Charles McGraw) and thugs hassle an Indian (Ben Red Feather) and family, also Harry Morgan as Jesse, in Cimarron, 1960.
When You're In Love (1937) - An Early Shaky Hudson Aline MacMahon is an assistant to the star (Metropolitan Opera singer and Columbia contract actress Grace Moore, not seen), who’s stuck in Mexico with visa problems, when she meets Cary Grant, an American artist with problems of his own, Billy Gilbert the barkeep, early in When You’re In Love, 1937.
Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) - I Hate Starving In Bed Broadway in a slump and the girls suffering, Carol (Joan Blondell), Trixie (Aline MacMahon) and Polly (Ruby Keeler) improvising when Fay (Ginger Rogers ) shows up with a glimmer of good news, wisecracking in Warner Bros. style, in the first in the series, Gold Diggers Of 1933, 1933.
Search, The (1948) - It Was A City In Czechoslovakia Something like a flashback, providing background on post-war refugee Karel (Ivan Jandl), in particular introducing his mother Hanna (Czech-born Metropolitan Opera soprano Jarmila Novotna), from Fred Zinnemann's The Search, 1948.
Five Star Final (1931) - I Know What You Think Editor Randall (Edward G. Robinson) in the city room, when his secretary Miss Taylor (Aline MacMahon) returns looped from the speakeasy, in Five Star Final, 1931, from newsman Louis Weitzenkorn's play.
World Changes, The (1933) - Ask For Buffalo Bill Racing through the 19th century to Paul Muni's first scene as adult Orin Nordholm, with mother and dad (Aline MacMahon, Henry O'Neill) and betrothed (Jean Muir), entertaining a visitor (Douglas Dumbrille) to their South Dakota farm, in Mervyn LeRoy's historical morality tale The World Changes, 1933.
Diamond Head (1963) - Who Owns The Ocean? Ship to Honolulu brings family friends and new lovers Paul (James Darren) and Sloan (Yvette Mimieux) home from school, his native Hawaiian mom (Aline MacMahon) and her prospective-senator brother Richard (Charlton Heston), with sister-in-law (Elizabeth Allan), greeting, in Diamond Head, 1963.
Ah, Wilderness -- (1935) - Don't Kiss Me Sister! Richard (Eric Linden) arrives home to the Miller clan, Lionel Barrymore and Spring Byington the parents, Bonita Granville his sister, Wallace Beery colorful uncle Sid, Frank Albertson the brother and Aline MacMahon aunt Lily, early in MGM's 1935 version of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness.
Search, The (1948) - A Right Taken From Them Director Fred Zinnemann's opening, shooting in the ruins of post-war Nuremberg, Aline MacMahon narrating as aid worker "Mrs. Murray," and glimpses at young Ivan Jandl, who will play the lead, in The Search, 1948.
Babbitt (1934) - Entering Zenith Opening sequence, the city of Zenith, the title character (Guy Kibbee) arising, wife (Aline MacMahon), daughter (Maxine Doyle) and son (Glen Boles) breakfasting, Hattie McDaniel the maid, from the Warner Bros.' 1934 version of Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt.

Trailer

Cimarron (1960) - (Original Trailer) A pioneer couple plays a major role in the settling of Oklahoma in Cimarron (1960), directed by Anthony Mann and starring Glenn Ford & Maria Schell.
Heroes For Sale - (Original Trailer) A war hero becomes a "forgotten man" after he loses his job in Heroes For Sale (1933).
Big Hearted Herbert - (Original Trailer) Character actor Guy Kibbee gets a starring comedy as Big Hearted Herbert (1934) whose business success makes him neglect his family.
Babbitt - (Original Trailer) Guy Kibbee is prefectly cast as Sinclair Lewis' small-town businessman, Babbitt (1934).
Silver Dollar - (Original Trailer) A farmer strikes it rich out West, then leaves his wife for a young beauty in Silver Dollar (1932).
While the Patient Slept - (Original Trailer) A nurse investigates murder at a mysterious mansion in While The Patient Slept (1935) starring Aline MacMahon and Lyle Talbot.
Gold Diggers of 1933 - (Original Trailer) Three chorus girls fight to keep their show going in order to rich bachelors in Gold Diggers of 1933 starring Joan Blondell.
Heart of New York, The - (Original Trailer) When he invents a new washing machine, a plumber becomes a millionaire in The Heart of New York (1932).
Side Streets - (Original Trailer) A businesswoman marries a sailor, then his former girlfriend shows up with a baby in Side Streets (1934).
Ah, Wilderness! - (Original Trailer) A small-town boy (Eric Linden) at the turn of the century, longs for a taste of the wild life in Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! (1935).
Heat Lightning - (Original Trailer) Lady gas station attendants (Aline MacMahon, Ann Dvorak) get mixed up with escaped murderers in Heat Lightning (1934).
Mary Jane's Pa - (Original Trailer) A newspaper publisher (Aline MacMahon) hires the husband (Guy Kibbee) who deserted her years earlier in Mary Jane's Pa (1935).

Family

William Marcus MacMahon
Father
Former broker, editor. Editor-in-chief of Munsey's Magazine.
Jennie MacMahon
Mother
Actor. Became a stage actor at the age of 53; died in 1984, three weeks before her 107 birthday.

Companions

Clarence S Stein
Husband
Architect. Married in 1928; died in 1975; helped design Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, Temple Emmanuel in NYC, and helped plan Radburn, New Jersey.

Bibliography

Notes

"Aline MacMahon had a face like a tragic mask--heavy-lidded eyes under arched, thick brows, full lips. Perhaps that was why she was so unexpected as a comedienne, and why she was so good at it."--John Springer ("They Had Faces Then" 1974)

She is chairwoman, Equity Library Theater (1950), organized productions for community theaters.