Margaret Wycherly


Actor
Margaret Wycherly

About

Also Known As
Margaret De Wolfe
Birth Place
London, England, GB
Born
October 26, 1881
Died
June 06, 1956
Cause of Death
Stroke

Biography

A distinguished actress in the New York theater, Wycherly was born in England but raised in the US, and was acting leading roles in vaudeville while still a teenager shortly before the turn of the century. Over the years, her genteel prettiness and acting talent graced plays ranging from "The Adding Machine" to "June Clegg" to "Six Characters in Search of an Author." Film work, though, d...

Family & Companions

Bayard Veiller
Husband
Playwright, screenwriter; also film producer and director. Born in Brooklyn, NY on January 2, 1869; died in New York City on June 16, 1943; wrote such plays as "The Primrose Path", "Within the Law", "The Thirteenth Chair", "The Trial of Mary Dugan" and "The Chatterbox"; produced and directed some films for Metro Pictures in the early 1920s and later worked as a producer of programmers at Paramount in 1934-35.

Biography

A distinguished actress in the New York theater, Wycherly was born in England but raised in the US, and was acting leading roles in vaudeville while still a teenager shortly before the turn of the century. Over the years, her genteel prettiness and acting talent graced plays ranging from "The Adding Machine" to "June Clegg" to "Six Characters in Search of an Author." Film work, though, did not begin for Wycherly until she was nearly 50, when she recreated the stage role her husband, playwright (and occasional film director and producer) Bayard Veiller wrote for her in "The Thirteenth Letter." As the psychic Madame LaGrange in Tod Browning's creaky but genuinely creepy early talkie rendition of 1929, Wycherly played with all the stops out, but her flamboyant work at least made for a barnstorming good time.

Apart from a supporting role in "Midnight" (1934), Wycherly did not work again in film until 1940. She had successfully managed the transition to character parts on stage, perhaps most memorably in "Tobacco Road" (1933), in the kind of role, a Georgia backwoods dweller, she would often play later in Hollywood. Her features interestingly hardened and her voice harsh and stony, Wycherly made a vivid, Oscar-nominated impression as the stoic mother of a gentle hillbilly (Gary Cooper) who becomes a WWI hero in the patriotic biopic "Sergeant York" (1941). Hollywood work was steady after that for the next dozen years; Wycherly played variations on stern rural earth mothers in films including "The Yearling" (1946), but she also played a decent variety of sympathetic and villainous ethnic roles in films like "Hangmen Also Die" (1943) and "The Loves of Carmen" (1948).

1949 saw Wycherly at her screen peak in what is thankfully her best-remembered film role. She may have played maternal types, but it was often tough love with her, and love between mother and son was never made of meaner stuff than in Raoul Walsh's galvanizing gangster landmark "White Heat." As the psychotic but simmering mother of the decidedly more demonstrative James Cagney, Wycherly made an unforgettable impression incestuously cradling her grown son on her lap while they plot their every heist. She made a handful of other films into the 50s, and played another possessive mother on the short-lived comedy-drama series "Claudia: The Story of a Marriage" (NBC, 1952) starring Joan McCracken, before her death in 1956.

Life Events

1929

Made feature film debut recreating her stage role in Tod Browning's film adaptation of "The Thirteenth Chair", written by her husband Bayard Veiller

1933

Acted on Broadway in one of her most notable successes as a character actress, "Tobacco Road"

1940

Began acting regularly in films with "Victory"

1941

Received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for "Sergeant York"

1949

Played best-remembered feature film role in "White Heat"

1952

Played Mrs. Brown, the heroine's mother, on the short-lived NBC comedy-drama series, "Claudia: The Story of a Marriage"

1953

Acted in last films, "The President's Lady" and "That Man from Tangier"

Videos

Movie Clip

Hangmen Also Die (1943) - Our LIves Becoming Forfeit For His Professor Novotny (Walter Brennan) allows himself to be arrested in a Nazi roundup in Prague, protecting Svoboda (Brian Donlevy) and panicking his wife (Nana Bryant) and daughter (Anna Lee) in Fritz Lang's Hangmen Also Die, 1943.
Johnny Angel (1946) - I Didn't Come Here For Regrets Ashore in New Orleans, Captain Angel (George Raft), looking to find out how his father, who worked for the same shipping line, was killed, visits the main office, where we meet doyenne Miss Drumm (Margaret Wycherly), boss “Gusty” (Marvin Miller) and his wife Lilah (Claire Trevor), in Johnny Angel, 1946.
White Heat (1949) - Red Hot Buzz Saw The first "domestic" scene, featuring Cody (James Cagney) and Ed (Steve Cochran) and introducing Ma (Margaret Wycherly) and Verna (Virginia Mayo) and foreshadowing troubles, in Raoul Walsh's White Heat, 1949.
Sergeant York (1941) - Old Time Religion Returned to drinking after being beaten in a land deal by a romantic rival, Tennesseean Alvin York (Gary Cooper, title character), who has made clear he feels religion ought to come to a man unbidden, ventures into a storm, then preacher Walter Brennan’s church, in Sergeant York, 1941.
Sergeant York (1941) - Render Unto Caesar Sent home to Tennessee by his superiors to consider whether, as a gifted marksman, he ought to serve in combat in World War One, Alvin York (Gary Cooper title character) hears various influences, then returns with his decision to Major Buxton (Stanley Ridges), in Howard Hawks' Sergeant York, 1941.
Keeper Of The Flame, The (1942) - Most Women Spoil You Life From Margaret Wycherly’s noted performance as the deranged mother of deceased national hero Robert Forrest, with mystified but compassionate reporter O’Malley (Spencer Tracy), when widow Christine (Katharine Hepburn) intervenes, in George Cukor’s The Keeper Of The Flame, 1942.
White Heat (1949) - Ruins The Movies From hot pursuit, Cody (James Cagney), Ma (Margaret Wycherly) and Verna (Virginia Mayo) pull into the Drive-In, director Raoul Walsh having a joke, in White Heat, 1949.

Trailer

White Heat - (Original Trailer) A government agent infiltrates a gang run by a mother-fixated psychotic in White Heat (1949) starring James Cagney and Edmond O'Brien.
Yearling, The - (Re-issue Trailer) A Florida boy's pet deer threatens the family farm in The Yearling (1948), starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman.
Experiment Perilous - (Original Trailer) A small-town doctor (George Brent) tries to help a beautiful woman (Hedy Lamarr) with a deranged husband (Paul Lukas).
Crossroads (1942) - (Original Trailer) A French diplomat (William Powell) who's recovered from amnesia is blackmailed over crimes he can't remember.
Keeper of the Flame - (Original Trailer) A reporter digs into the secret life of a recently deceased political hero in Keeper of the Flame (1942) with Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy.
Sergeant York - (Re-issue Trailer) Gary Cooper won his first Best Actor Oscar portraying Sergeant York (1941), the pacifist who becomes a war hero.
Man with a Cloak, The - (Original Trailer) A mystery man (Joseph Cotten) tries to help a young innocent (Leslie Caron) escape a murderous housekeeper (Barbara Stanwyck).
Loves of Carmen, The - (Original Trailer) It's The Loves of Carmen (1948) without the opera but with Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford and beautiful Technicolor.
Assignment in Brittany - (Original Trailer) Jean-Pierre Aumont (Day For Night) made his U.S. movie debut playing a French Resistance fighter who's a dead ringer for a Nazi official in Assignment in Brittany (1943).
Random Harvest - (Original Trailer) A woman's happiness is threatened when she discovers her husband has been suffering from amnesia in Random Harvest (1942) starring Greer Garson & Ronald Colman.
Johnny Angel - (Original Trailer) George Raft plays a sailor who sets out to get the guys who murdered his father in Johnny Angel (1945).

Companions

Bayard Veiller
Husband
Playwright, screenwriter; also film producer and director. Born in Brooklyn, NY on January 2, 1869; died in New York City on June 16, 1943; wrote such plays as "The Primrose Path", "Within the Law", "The Thirteenth Chair", "The Trial of Mary Dugan" and "The Chatterbox"; produced and directed some films for Metro Pictures in the early 1920s and later worked as a producer of programmers at Paramount in 1934-35.

Bibliography