The word "formidable" seems to have been especially coined for American actress Alma Kruger, who for over a decade was the quintessential immovable society dowager. Alma had been a stage actress for nearly sixty years before making her first film, These Three (1936), in which she played the easily shocked grandmother who swallowed the scandalous lies told by spiteful little Bonita Granville. She was a bit nicer but no less forceful as the mother-in-law who saw right through Rosalind Russell's shallow kindliness in Craig's Wife (1936). Alma played Empress Maria Theresa in Marie Antoinette (1938), who supervised the arranged marriage of Marie and the dullwitted Louis XVI; while in His Girl Friday (1940) she was Ralph Bellamy's domineering mother, who underwent the indignity of being first kidnapped and then arrested thanks to the machinations of newspaper editor Cary Grant. From 1938 through 1943 Alma played head nurse Molly Byrd, the friendly adversary to crusty Lionel Barrymore in the Dr. Kildare series. Alma Kruger made her last film, Forever Amber, in 1947, in which, despite the presence of a stellar supporting cast, the septugenarian actress still managed to dominate her big scenes.
by Hal Erickson biography