With the body of a scarecrow, the contemptuous stare of a house detective, and the voice of an air-raid siren, Irish-born Una O'Connor was one of filmdom's most unforgettable character actresses. Beginning her career with Dublin's Abbey Players and extending her activities to the London's West End and Broadway, O'Connor was cast as the socially conscious housekeeper in Noel Coward's 1932 London production Cavalcade; it was this role which brought her to Hollywood in 1933. She rapidly became a favorite of two prominent directors, James Whale and John Ford, neither of whom were inclined to ask her to tone down her film performances. For Whale, O'Connor screeched her way through two major 1930s horror films, The Invisible Man (1933) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935); for Ford, O'Connor played the grieving mother of martyred IRA activist Wallace Ford in The Informer (1935) and Mrs. Grogan in The Plough and the Stars (1936). For those detractors who believe that O'Connor never gave a subtle, controlled performance in her life, refer to Lubitsch's Cluny Brown (1946), wherein Ms. O'Connor spoke not a single word as the glowering mother of upper-class twit Richard Haydn. Fourteen years after portraying Charles Laughton's overprotective mother in This Land is Mine (1943), Una O'Connor once more appeared opposite Laughton in 1957's Witness for the Prosecution, playing a hard-of-hearing housekeeper; it was her last screen performance.
by Hal Erickson biography