Marie Dressler

Marie Dressler was born Leila Marie Koerber November 9, 1868, in Cobourg, Canada. Her family moved about frequently during her childhood, and she lived at one time or another in Michigan and Ohio. She left home at the age of 14 and began her acting career with the Nevada Stock Company. She worked with several theatrical companies throughout the late 19th century in various parts of the country and increasing in popularity. She made her Broadway debut in 1892 in "Waldemar, the Robber of the Rhine." Reportedly, she desired to be an operatic diva or tragedienne, but she was persuaded by the writer of "Waldemar," Maurice Barrymore, the father of John, Lionel and Ethel Barrymore, that her future lay in comedy. In 1896, she got her first starring role in "The Lady Slaver" which proved to be a success and ran for two years on Broadway. She continued to be a success and eventually went to England to perform in 1907. In 1909, she appeared on Broadway in "Tillie's Nightmare" which proved to be her greatest success. Dressler owned the rights to "Tillie's Nightmare" and was receptive when Mack Sennett, whom she had helped get a job in a theater years earlier, approached her about a movie based on the play. "Tillie's Punctured Romance," which co-starred Charlie Chaplin, was a great success. She appeared in two "Tillie" sequels. In the twenties, Dressler's movie career was relegated to a few shorts until 1927 when Allan Dwan cast her in "The Joy Girl." Screenwriter Frances Marion was a friend and convinced MGM to use her in "The Callahans and the Murphys" (1927), an Irish comedy co-starring comedienne Polly Moran. She also appeared with Moran in "Bringing Up Father," but her appearance as Marion Davies' mother in "The Patsy" (1928) brought her the greatest critical praise. Her acting career was solidified at MGM when Marion convinced Irving Thalberg to cast Dressler as Marthy in Greta Garbo's "Anna Christie" (1930). During the silent era, she rose to her greatest stardom in a number of comedies, the most popular of which co-starred Wallace Beery. She won the Best Actress Academy Award for 1930-31 for her role in "Min and Bill" which co-starred Beery. She died of cancer in 1934 at the age of 65.

Selected films of this star available for viewing:

Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914)

Tillie Wakes Up (1917)

The Joy Girl (1927)

The Patsy (1928)

The Divine Lady (1929)


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