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Beulah Bondi

She was one of the first five women to be nominated for an Academy Award in the newly created category of “Best Supporting Actress” for her work in The Gorgeous Hussy.

Beulah Bondi

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Filmography

1931      

Street Scene

Arrowsmith

 

1932      

Rain

 

1933      

The Stranger’s Return

Christopher Bean

 

1934      

Two Alone

Registered Nurse

Finishing School

The Painted Veil

Ready for Love

 

1935      

The Good Fairy

Bad Boy

 

1936      

The Invisible Ray

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

The Moon’s Our Home

The Case Against Mrs. Ames

Hearts Divided

The Gorgeous Hussy

 

1937      

Maid of Salem

Make Way for Tomorrow

 

1938      

The Buccaneer

Of Human Hearts

Vivacious Lady

The Sisters

 

1939      

On Borrowed Time

The Under-Pup

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

 

1940      

Remember the Night

Our Town

The Captain Is a Lady

 

1941      

Penny Serenade

The Shepherd of the Hills

One Foot in Heaven

 

1943      

Tonight We Raid Calais

Watch on the Rhine

 

1944      

She’s a Soldier Too

I Love a Soldier

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay

The Very Thought of You

And Now Tomorrow

 

1945      

Back to Bataan

The Southerner

 

1946      

Breakfast in Hollywood

Sister Kenny

It’s a Wonderful Life

 

1947      

High Conquest

 

1948      

The Sainted Sisters

The Snake Pit

So Dear to My Heart

 

1949      

The Life of Riley

Reign of Terror

Mr. Soft Touch

 

1950      

The Baron of Arizona

The Furies

 

1952      

Lone Star

 

1953      

Latin Lovers

 

1954      

Track of the Cat

 

1956      

Back from Eternity

 

1957      

The Unholy Wife

 

1959      

The Big Fisherman

A Summer Place

 

1961      

Tammy Tell Me True

 

1962      

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm

 

1963      

Tammy and the Doctor

Awards

Beulah Bondi was nominated for two Best Actress in a Supporting Role Academy Awards:

  • The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)
  • Of Human Hearts (1938)

What distinguishes the real actor from the pseudo is the passionate desire to know what is going on in the hearts and minds of people. ~ Beulah Bondi

Beulah Bondi was born Beulah Bondy in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Eva Suzanna (née Marble), an author, and Abraham O. Bondy, who worked in real estate. The family moved to Valparaiso, Indiana when she was three, and Bondi began her acting career on the stage at age seven, playing Cedric Errol in a production of Little Lord Fauntleroy at the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso, Indiana. She graduated from the Frances Shimer Academy (later Shimer College) in 1907, and gained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in oratory at Valparaiso University in 1916 and 1918.

She made her Broadway debut in Kenneth S. Webb’s One of the Family at the 49th Street Theatre on December 21, 1925. She next appeared in another hit, Maxwell Anderson’s Saturday’s Children, in 1926. It was Bondi’s performance in Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Street Scene, which opened at the Playhouse Theatre on January 10, 1929, that brought Bondi to the movies at the age of 43. Her debut movie role was as “Emma Jones” in Street Scene (1931), which starred Sylvia Sidney, and in which Bondi reprised her stage role, followed by “Mrs. Davidson” in Rain (1932), which starred Joan Crawford and Walter Huston.

She was one of the first five women to be nominated for an Academy Award in the newly created category of “Best Supporting Actress” for her work in The Gorgeous Hussy, although she lost the award to Gale Sondergaard. Two years later she was nominated again for Of Human Hearts and lost again, but her reputation as a character actress kept her employed. She would most often be seen in the role of the mother of the star of the film for the rest of her career, with the exception of Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) as the abandoned Depression-era ‘Ma’ Cooper. She often played mature roles in her early film career even though she was only in her early 40s. In 1940, Bondi played Mrs. Webb in Our Town.

Bondi’s television credits include Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Howard Richardson’s Ark of Safety on the Goodyear Television Playhouse. She appeared with Jan Clayton in “The Prairie Story” on NBC’s Wagon Train. (This theme is also examined in the novel The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough; the episode aired on February 1, 1961, three months after the death of Ward Bond). She made a guest appearance on Perry Mason in 1963 when she played the role of Sophia Stone in “The Case of the Nebulous Nephew.”

Bondi made her final appearances as Martha Corinne Walton on The Waltons in the episodes “The Conflict” (September 1974) and “The Pony CartR