A lot of work goes into getting the movies loaded on the site. While most of the information is pulled in from a database, you have to check and make sure that what is pulled is complete, add links, and locate the trailers. While I was doing this for the last big movie update, I kept seeing one name listed in almost every movie: Bess Flowers. I admit that I had never heard of her and being the inquisitive person that I am, I had to investigate.
You are probably thinking, so who was Bess Flowers? As a result of my research, I discovered that she was called “The Queen of the Extras” and rightly so.
Flowers’ film debut came in 1923, when she appeared in Hollywood (1923). She made three films that year, and then began working extensively. Many of her appearances are uncredited, as she generally played non-speaking roles.
By the 1930s, Flowers was in constant demand. Her appearances ranged from Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford thrillers to comedic roles alongside of Charley Chase, the Three Stooges, Leon Errol, Edgar Kennedy, and Laurel and Hardy.
She appeared in the five films which won the Academy Award for Best Picture: It Happened One Night, You Can’t Take it with You, All About Eve, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Around the World in Eighty Days. In each of these movies, Flowers was uncredited. Including these five movies, she had appeared in twenty-three Best Picture nominees in total, making her the record holder for most appearances in films nominated for the award. Her last movie was Good Neighbor Sam in 1964.
Outside her acting career, in 1945, Flowers helped to found the Screen Extras Guild (active: 1946-1992, then merged with the Screen Actors Guild), where she served as one of its first vice-presidents and recording secretaries.
It seems like she was in EVERY movie between 1923 and 1964. Here are a few of the more notable films and most of her roles were uncredited. You should be able to identify her.
- Monkey Business (1931) as wife of man dressed as Indian at party
- It Happened One Night (1934) Agnes – Gordon’s Secretary
- The Awful Truth (1937) as Viola Heath
- You Can’t Take It With You (1938) as Martin’s Neighbor in Courtroom
- I Love You Again (1940) Woman in Lingerie Department
- Meet John Doe (1941) as Mattie
- Double Indemnity (1944) as Norton Secretary.
- The Big Sleep (1946) Woman with Bumped Man
- Cass Timberlane (1947) as Mary Ann Milligan
- Born to Be Bad (1950) as Mrs. Worthington
- Calamity Jane (1953) as Officer’s Wife in Reception Line
- Dial M for Murder (1954) Woman Departing Ship
- Rear Window (1954) Songwriter’s Party Guest with Poodle
- Imitation of Life (1959) as Geraldine Moore
- The Manchurian Candidate (1962) as Gomel’s Lady Counterpart
Now I want to go watch all of these movies and see if I can pick out the Queen of the Extras.
Did you know who Bess Flowers was? Have you spotted her in any of these movies?