Beulah Bondi


Actor
Beulah Bondi

About

Also Known As
Beulah Bondy
Birth Place
Valparaiso, Indiana, USA
Born
May 03, 1889
Died
January 11, 1981
Cause of Death
Injuries Sustained In A Fall

Biography

Chicago-born Beulah Bondi spent many years appearing in theatrical stock companies throughout the USA before making her Broadway debut in 1925 as a 70-year old servant in "One of the Family" (while still in her mid-30s!). After creating the role of the slovenly, gossipy neighbor in the stage play "Street Scene," Bondi earned kudos reprising it in the 1931 film version. With her plain, un...

Photos & Videos

Remember the Night - Scene Stills
It's a Wonderful Life - Lobby Card Set
The Stranger's Return - Lobby Card

Notes

Bondi tested for the role of Ma Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) and was led to believe she had the part. The actress donned appropriate garb and went to live in a migrant camp in Bakersfield, California as research only to return to discover that the role had gone to Jane Darwell.

Bondi also did a couple of days shooting as Aunt Polly replacing an ill May Robson in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1938) but Robson recovered and resumed the part.

Biography

Chicago-born Beulah Bondi spent many years appearing in theatrical stock companies throughout the USA before making her Broadway debut in 1925 as a 70-year old servant in "One of the Family" (while still in her mid-30s!). After creating the role of the slovenly, gossipy neighbor in the stage play "Street Scene," Bondi earned kudos reprising it in the 1931 film version. With her plain, undistinguished but malleable features, the actress was often cast in older parts: At age 45, she offered a heartbreaking performance as an elderly woman in a nursing home in "Make Way for Tomorrow" (1937). One of Hollywood's truly priceless character players, Bondi was twice Oscar-nominated for her supporting performances in "The Gorgeous Hussy" (1936, as the backwards wife of President Andrew Jackson) and in "Of Human Hearts" (1938, as the doormat wife of stern minister Walter Huston). In the latter, Bondi played mother to James Stewart, which she would later do in the classics "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939), and "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), both for director Frank Capra. Whether as the Puritan mother of troublemaking Bonita Granville in "Maid of Salem" (1937), or the mother of the ill-fated Emily Webb in the 1940 screen adaptation of "Our Town," Bondi personified not just the American maternal ideal as the backbone of the culture, but also the common woman of dignity and great strength.

As she aged, Bondi grew into playing the types of parts in which she had often been cast. She played the grandmother of "On Borrowed Time" in three different media in two different decades: in the 1939 feature film and the 1953 Broadway revival and the 1957 NBC adaptation. She remained a frequent presence on the small screen, including a memorable series of commercials for Oxydol detergent, until her 1963 "retirement" following her appearance in "Tammy and the Doctor." Bondi was lured back before the cameras in the 1970s, though, first for the TV-movie "She Waits" (CBS, 1972), which reteamed her with "A Summer Place" co-star Dorothy McGuire, and later for an occasional guest role on the CBS family drama "The Waltons" from 1974 to 1976. For her latter appearance, the actress earned an Emmy award. She died from injuries sustained in a fall in her California home in January 1981.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

She Waits (1972)
Tammy and the Doctor (1963)
Mrs. Call
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)
The Gypsy
Tammy Tell Me True (1961)
Mrs. Call
The Big Fisherman (1959)
Hannah
A Summer Place (1959)
Mrs. Hamilton Hamble
The Unholy Wife (1957)
Emma Hochen
Back from Eternity (1956)
Martha Spanger
Track of the Cat (1954)
Ma Bridges
Latin Lovers (1952)
Woman analyst
Lone Star (1952)
Minniver Bryan
The Furies (1950)
Mrs. Anaheim
The Baron of Arizona (1950)
Loma [Morales]
The Black Book (1949)
Grandma
So Dear to My Heart (1949)
Granny Kincaid
Mr. Soft Touch (1949)
Mrs. Hangale
The Life of Riley (1949)
Miss [Martha] Bogle
The Snake Pit (1948)
Mrs. Greer
The Sainted Sisters (1948)
Hester Rivercomb
High Conquest (1947)
Clara Kingsley
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Mrs. Bailey
Breakfast in Hollywood (1946)
Annie Reed
Sister Kenny (1946)
Mary Kenny
Back to Bataan (1945)
Miss Barnes
The Southerner (1945)
Granny [Tucker]
I Love a Soldier (1944)
Etta Lane
She's a Soldier Too (1944)
Agatha Kittredge
And Now Tomorrow (1944)
Aunt Em
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1944)
Miss Abigail Horn
The Very Thought of You (1944)
Mrs. Wheeler
Tonight We Raid Calais (1943)
Madame Bonnard
Watch on the Rhine (1943)
Anise
Penny Serenade (1941)
Miss Oliver
One Foot in Heaven (1941)
Mrs. Lydia Sandow
The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
Aunt Mollie [Matthews]
Our Town (1940)
Mrs. Webb
The Captain Is a Lady (1940)
Angie Peabody
Remember the Night (1940)
Mrs. Sargent
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Ma Smith
The Underpup (1939)
Miss Thornton
On Borrowed Time (1939)
Nellie, Granny
The Buccaneer (1938)
Aunt Charlotte
The Sisters (1938)
Rose Elliott
Of Human Hearts (1938)
Mary Wilkins
Vivacious Lady (1938)
Mrs. Morgan
Maid of Salem (1937)
Abigail, his wife
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
Lucy Cooper
The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)
Rachel Jackson
The Invisible Ray (1936)
Lady Arabella Stevens
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936)
Melissa Tolliver
The Case Against Mrs. Ames (1936)
Mrs. Livingston Ames
The Moon's Our Home (1936)
Boyce Medford
Hearts Divided (1936)
Madame Letizia
Bad Boy (1935)
Mrs. Larkin
The Good Fairy (1935)
Doctor Schultz
Registered Nurse (1934)
McKenna
Finishing School (1934)
Miss Van Alstyne
Two Alone (1934)
Mrs. Slag
Ready for Love (1934)
Mrs. [Louella] Burke
The Stranger's Return (1933)
Beatrice [Storr]
Christopher Bean (1933)
Mrs. [Hannah] Haggett
Rain (1932)
Mrs. Davidson
Street Scene (1931)
Emma Jones
Arrowsmith (1931)
Mrs. Bondi

Cast (Special)

On Borrowed Time (1957)
Granny

Life Events

1895

Moved to Valparaiso, Indiana

1919

Professional stage debut as member of Stuart Walker's stock company in Indianapolis, Indiana; remained with company until 1921

1925

New York stage debut in "Wild Birds"

1925

Broadway debut in "One of the Family", playing a 70-year old servant

1931

Feature film debut, recreating stage role of the slovenly, gossipy tenament resident in "Street Scene"

1936

Earned first Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for "Gorgeous Hussy", playing the wife of US President Andrew Jackson

1937

Offered a rich, beautifully nuanced performance as an elderly woman ignored by her children in "Make Way for Tomorrow"

1938

Received second Best Supporting Actress Oscar nod as James Stewart's mother in "Of Human Hearts"; also played Stewart's mom in "Vivacious Lady"

1939

Played Granny in the film version of "On Borrowed Time"

1939

Portrayed James Stewart's mom in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

1940

Cast as Mrs. Webb in the film version of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town"

1943

Appeared in "Watch on the Rhine"

1946

Again cast as James Stewart's mother in "It's a Wonderful Life"

1948

Was featured in "The Snake Pit"

1953

Played Granny in Broadway revival of "On Borrowed Time"

1953

Made TV debut in episode of "Medallion Theatre" (CBS)

1954

Portrayed a bigot in "Track of the Cat"

1957

Reprised role of Granny in the NBC "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production of "On Borrowed Time"

1959

Cast as Dorothy McGuire's aunt in "A Summer Place"

1963

Made final screen appearance in "Tammy and the Doctor"

1972

TV-movie debut, "She Waits" (CBS)

1974

Acted in "Sandburg's Lincoln" (NBC)

Photo Collections

Remember the Night - Scene Stills
Here are a few Scene Stills from Paramount's Remember the Night (1940), starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.
It's a Wonderful Life - Lobby Card Set
Here is a lobby card set from Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Stranger's Return - Lobby Card
Here is a lobby card from MGM's The Stranger's Return (1933), starring Lionel Barrymore. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Back From Eternity (1956) - In The Base Of The Skull The stewardess (Adele Mara) visits gangster-escorting-child Jesse White, the professor and his wife (Cameron Prud’homme, Beulah Bondi) who converse with convict Vasquel (Rod Steiger), who seems cheery considering he’s traveling for his execution, his bounty hunter (Fred Clark) tolerant, as pilots (Keith Andes, Robert Ryan) cope with big weather problems, in Back From Eternity, 1956.
Back From Eternity (1956) - Our Chances? After crash-landing, convict Vasquel (Rod Steiger) and bounty hunter Crimp (Fred Clark) tangle, pilots Bill (Robert Ryan) and Joe (Keith Andes) speak to survivors (Cameron Prud'homme, Phyllis Kirk, Jesse White, Anita Ekberg et al), John Farrow directing, in Back From Eternity, 1956.
Rain (1932) - I Came From Kansas Once Myself Director Lewis Milestone doing a roll call introducing W. Somerset Maugham's characters, notably Dr. MacPhail (Matt Moore), "reformer" Davidson (Walter Huston), innkeeper Horn (Guy Kibbee) and finally the star Joan Crawford as "Sadie Thompson," in Rain, 1932.
Back to Bataan (1945) - You Will Haul Down The Flag! In case any viewer had doubts about the depravity the enemy or colonial loyalty, a Japanese officer (Abner Biberman) hangs a defiant Filipino schoolmaster (Vladimir Sokoloff), Beulah Bondi the compassionate American teacher, in Edward Dmytryk's Back to Bataan, 1945.
Make Way For Tomorrow (1937) - There's A Bank For You Introducing the cast and circumstance, George (Thomas Mitchell) joins mother (Beulah Bondi), father (Victor Moore) sisters (Minna Gombell, Elisabeth Risdon) and brother (Ray Mayer), opening Leo McCarey's Make Way For Tomorrow, 1937.
Make Way For Tomorrow (1937) - You Know I Worry Rhoda (Barbara Read) checks with usherette (Terry Ray) thinking she's ditched Granny (Beulah Bondi) at the movies, then returning home to George and Anita (Thomas Mitchell, Fay Bainter) at their bridge game, in Make Way For Tomorrow, 1937.
Of Human Hearts (1938) - Other People's Clothes Just arrived on the Ohio frontier, young Jason (Gene Reynolds) meets Annie (Leatrice Gilbert, John's daughter) as his preacher father (Walter Huston) and mother (Beulah Bondi) get settled, early in Of Human Hearts, 1938.
Southerner, The (1945) - As Good As Any Man Granny (Beulah Bondi) griping as Sam (Zachary Scott) and Nona (Betty Field) arrive at their new share-cropping farm, artfully presented in director Jean Renoir's American pastoral, The Southerner, 1945.
Lone Star (1952) - Annexation Means War Lionel Barrymore is a cranky, benevolent ex-president Andrew Jackson, Beulah Bondi his gal Friday, and they’re pleased that Clark Gable as Burke, supporting their plan to annex Texas, is arriving in Tennessee to wrangle spineless politicians (Charles Cane, Roy Gordon et al), early in Lone Star, 1952.
Penny Serenade (1941) - She's Our Child! Roger (Cary Grant, in his Academy Award-nominated role) pleads with a judge (Wallis Clark) for a chance to keep his adopted child, when he's lost his job after a one-year probation period, in George Stevens' Penny Serenade. 1941, from a story by Martha Cheavens.
So Dear To My Heart (1948) - Black As A Lump Of Coal Jerry (Bobby Driscoll) and hardworking Granny (Beulah Bondi) check to see if the lambs have been born, on her Indiana farm, and we meet the black sheep who will become the boy’s true pet-project, in Walt Disney’s live-action plus animation feature So Dear To My Heart, 1948.
Finishing School (1934) - So Smart And Proper Forceful opening credits and harsh, if humorous take on society mom Billie Burke, delivering top-billed Frances Dee to the school run by Miss Van Alstyne (Beulah Bondi), in RKO’s Finishing School, 1934, co-directed and co-written by Wanda Tuchock, with Ginger Rogers and Bruce Cabot.

Trailer

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington - (Original Trailer) Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939), Frank Capra's masterpiece about a naive young senator (James Stewart) who uncovers political corruption.
Back From Eternity (1956) -- (Original Trailer) When an airliner crashes in the jungle, the repaired plane can only hold five of the survivors in Back From Eternity, 1956, with Robert Ryan and Rod Steiger, director John Farrow's remake of his own feature Five Came Back, 1939.
Remember the Night -- (Original Trailer) Assistant D.A. Fred MacMurray takes shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck home for Christmas in Remember the Night (1940).
Latin Lovers - (Original Trailer) Expect Ricardo Montalban to give Lana Turner a taste for Latin Lovers (1953) in this Technicolor romance.
Make Way For Tomorrow - (Original Trailer) An elderly couple are forced to move in with their children in Leo McCarey's Make Way For Tomorrow (1937).
Sisters, The - (Original Trailer) Errol Flynn and Bette Davis in love and it's all capped off with the San Francisco earthquake, as promoted by Warner Bros. in the original theatrical trailer for The Sisters, 1938, directed by Anatole Litvak.
Sister Kenny - (Original Trailer) Rosalind Russell gives an Oscar nominated performance as Sister Kenny (1946), the true story of the Australian nurse who fought to gain acceptance for her polio-treatment methods.
Track Of The Cat - (Original Trailer) A panther haunts a dysfunctional pioneer family in Track of the Cat (1954) starring Robert Mitchum.
On Borrowed Time - (Original Trailer) Old Gramps (Lionel Barrymore) traps Death (Cedric Hardwicke) in a tree in MGM's fantasy On Borrowed Time (1939).
Unholy Wife, The - (Original Trailer) Am ambitious beauty marries a vintner, then falls for one of his workers in The Unholy Wife (1957) starring Diana Dors & Rod Steiger.
Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, The - (Teaser Trailer) Laurence Harvey stars in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), a film biography of the German storytellers.
Vivacious Lady - (1941 Re-release Trailer) After a whirlwind courtship, a night club singer meets her conservative new in-laws in Vivacious Lady (1937), starring Ginger Rogers & James Stewart.

Family

Eva Marble Bondy
Mother
Poet. Lived with Bondi from 1935 until her death in 1941; Bondi managed to get a volume of her mother's poems published in the early 1960s under the title "Worldkins".

Bibliography

Notes

Bondi tested for the role of Ma Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) and was led to believe she had the part. The actress donned appropriate garb and went to live in a migrant camp in Bakersfield, California as research only to return to discover that the role had gone to Jane Darwell.

Bondi also did a couple of days shooting as Aunt Polly replacing an ill May Robson in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1938) but Robson recovered and resumed the part.