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Marie Dressler, Award Winner –

Dressler in Dinner At Eight.

Marie Dressler: Best Actress 1930/31:

Min and Bill (Drama – PG)

Marie Dressler received her Best Actress Oscar for playing Min, a good-hearted old boozer who runs a broken-down waterfront hotel, while constantly battling with her beau, played by Wallace Beery.

About Marie Dressler (1869 - 1934)

Marie Dressler was born in Ontario. Her father, an Austrian, was a music teacher and church organist. Dressler began her acting career on the stage, since she started her career before film had been invented. Her first job was as a touring chorus girl with the Nevada Stock Company, at age 14. By 1892, she was on Broadway. Marie Dressler went from light opera to vaudeville. In the late 1890s she married an American and this marriage, although it was short lived, it gave her American citizenship and the ability to work and live in the U.S.

Her first film role was in 1914, when she was 44 years old, in Tillie's Punctured Romance. She was cast because of her popularity on the stage. Charlie Chaplin was also in the feature movie.

Actor's Equity had been recently formed, in 1913. Dressler had been elected the first president of the Chorus Equity Association. At the time, it was the custom not to pay ensemble cast members of stage productions for rehearsals. Chorus girls, as well as stage hands, were demanding a limit to 4 weeks of unpaid rehearsal time. In spite of her enormous stage popularity, she was blacklisted in the theater after the chorus girls strike in 1917.

Through the influence of screenwriter Frances Marion, who she had worked with in silent films, she was cast in The Callahans And The Murphys (1927). The movie caused an uproar in the Irish community for its portrayals of the Irish and was pulled off the market by MGM. She then played with Greta Garbo in Anna Christie, a talkie movie. With her theater experience, her genius for comedy, her natural elegance and buxom figure, she had great success in the talkies and quickly became a top box office draw.

For her performance in Min And Bill, (1930) she won an Oscar for Best Actress. She played the owner of a worn down, dock side hotel, with Wallace Beery playing her partner in scrappy arguments, alternating with affectionate moments. The movie was a runaway hit. The two were paired again in similar roles in Tugboat Annie, as a middle aged couple whose affectionate squabbles take place on their tugboat.

Marie Dressler also played with Jean Harlow in the 1933 comedy, Dinner At Eight, where she played a grand dame of the theater, giving the following interchange with Harlow:

Harlow: Do you know, machinery is going to take the place of every profession?
Dressler: My dear, that is something you need never worry about.

She was nominated for an Oscar again for her performance in Emma in 1932, as a housekeeper who raises a family of children and then marries their father. Marie Dressler was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1933.

Dressler's silent credits include:

Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914)
Bringing Up Father (1928)
The Divine Lady (1929)

Marie Dressler's other notable movie credits include...

Anna Christie (1930)
The Girl Said No (1930)
Chasing Rainbows (1930)
Reducing (1931)
Politics (1931)
Prosperity (1932)
Tugboat Annie (1933)
Dinner At Eight (1933)
Christopher Bean (1933)

Maria Dressler in Chasing Rainbows (1930)... top picture with Polly Moran.

Dressler in Christopher Bean (1933)... With Lionel Barrymore
and Jean Hersholt in top picture... bottom picture with Lionel Barrymore.

With Polly Moran in Dangerous Females (1929).

In Dinner at Eight (1933)... top picture with Madge Evans
and Phillips Holmes... bottom picture with Madge Evans.

In Emma (1932)... picture 2 with Edith Fellows... picture 3 with Myrna Loy...
with Richard Cromwell and Jean Hersholt in pictures 5 and 6... picture 7 with
Myrna Loy and Richard Cromwell... picture 8 with Myrna Loy...
bottom picture with Jean Hersholt.

With Norma Shearer in Let Us Be Gay (1930)... top picture with William H. O'Brien.

With Wallace Beery in Min and Bill (1930)... top picture with
Dorothy Jordan... Dorothy Jordan also in pictures 5 and 9.

With Clair De Brey and Polly Moran in Politics (1931).

In Prosperity (1932) with Polly Moran.

In Reducing (1931)... top picture with Anita Page... bottom picture with Polly Moran.

With Sally O'Neil and Gertrude Olmstead in
The Callahans and the Murphys (1927).

With Victor Varconi in The Divine Lady (1929).

Marie Dressler in Tillie Wakes Up (1917) with Ruth Barrett.