A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Helen Westley was a stage star before the turn of the century. In the teen years, she co-founded both the Greenwich Square Players and the Theatre Guild. She began her film career in 1934, spending the next eight years playing the grandest of grande dames. Westley was seen as the indomitable Granny Mingott in the 1934 version of The Age of Innocence, the couturier title character in Roberta (1935), and the shrill, shrewish Parthy Hawkes in Show Boat (1936). She was also effective as a stern authority figure opposite such sunny-dispositioned juveniles as Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) and Shirley Temple (Heidi, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm). Helen Westley remained active right up to her death at age 67.
photo credit: Warner Brothers
by Hal Erickson biography