Actress Jane Darwell was typecast as the matronly grandmother type for most of her film career, the award winning actress of stage and film was born Mary “Patti” Woodward on October 15, 1879 in Palmyra, Missouri. Her father a high level rail road executive disapproved of initial foray into show business as a mezzo-soprano opera singer. Not wanting to offend him or the family, she changed her name. Her true calling came late, when in 1912, at the age of thirty-three, Darwell made her stage acting debut. A year later, she began a successful motion picture career that would span five decades (1913-1964), that included nearly two hundred film and television appearances. She won the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 1941 for her portrayal of Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Darwell was able to make a smooth transition from silent films to talking pictures because of her versatility as a character actress, notable film credits include: Tom Sawyer (1930), Curly Top (1935), The Zero Hour (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), and Three Godfathers (1948). In 1964, she appeared in her final motion picture. Walt Disney personally persuaded her to come out of retirement to play the memorable role of “the bird woman” in Mary Poppins. Jane Darwell died at age eighty-seven on August 13, 1967 from a heart attack at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. Jane Darwell is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
Who died on this date:
On October 15, 1983, actor Pat O’Brien died. He was born on November 11, 1899 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. O’Brien appeared with James Cagney in nine feature films, including Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and Cagney’s last film, Ragtime (1981). The two originally met in 1926 and became lifelong friends. O'Brien began appearing in movies (many times playing Irish cops or priests) in the 1930s, in the original version of The Front Page (1931). O’Brien may be best remembered for his role as a police detective in Some Like It Hot and the title role of a football coach in Kute Rockne, All American (1940. O’Brien’s movie career more or less ended in the early 1950s but still managed to get work in television. O’Brien died from a heart attack on October 15, 1983 and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.