Alison Skipworth

Active - 1921 - 1938  |   Born - Jul 25, 1863   |   Died - Jul 5, 1952   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Formidable British comic actress Alison Skipworth became an actress in her early twenties to help support her starving-artist husband. A classic beauty in her youth, Ms. Skipworth served as decoration in such London stage productions as The Gaiety Girl and An Artist's Model. Her acting improved with each performance, and by 1908 she was co-starring with James K. Hackett in the prestige production The Prisoner of Zenda. She made her film debut in 1920, re-creating her long-running stage role in 39 East. Preferring the stage to films during the silent era, Skipworth did not become a full-time movie actress until 1930, when establishing herself as one of Hollywood's most reliable character actresses. Exuding aristocratic hauteur from every pore, Skipworth was an excellent foil for Mae West in Night After Night (1932) and for W.C. Fields in If I Had a Million (1932) and Tillie and Gus (1933). She had leading assignments as the title character Madame Racketeer (1932) and opposite Polly Moran in the Republic programmers Two Wise Maids (1937) and Ladies in Distress (1938). Leaving films in 1938, Alison Skipworth returned to the stage, retiring for good in 1942; she died ten years later at the age of 88.

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