Bess Flowers

Active - 1923 - 1964  |   Born - Jan 1, 1900   |   Died - Jul 28, 1984   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Musical, Crime

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

The faces of most movie extras are unmemorable blurs in the public's memory. Not so the elegant, statuesque Bess Flowers, who was crowned by appreciative film buffs as "Queen of the Hollywood Dress Extras." After studying drama (against her father's wishes) at the Carnegie Inst of Technology, Flowers intended to head to New York, but at the last moment opted for Hollywood. She made her first film in 1922, subsequently appearing prominently in such productions as Hollywood (1922) and Chaplin's Woman of Paris (1923). Too tall for most leading men, Flowers found her true niche as a supporting actress. By the time talkies came around, Flowers was mostly playing bits in features, though her roles were more sizeable in two-reel comedies; she was a special favorite of popular short-subject star Charley Chase. Major directors like Frank Lloyd always found work for Flowers because of her elegant bearing and her luminescent gift for making the people around her look good. While generally an extra, Flowers enjoyed substantial roles in such films as Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934), Gregory La Cava's Private Worlds and Leo McCarey's The Awful Truth (1937). In 1947's Song of the Thin Man, the usually unheralded Flowers was afforded screen billing. Her fans particularly cherish Flowers' bit as a well-wisher in All About Eve (1950), in which she breaks her customary screen silence to utter "I'm so happy for you, Eve." Flowers was married twice, first to Cecil B. DeMille's legendary "right hand man" Cullen Tate, then to Columbia studio manager William S. Holman. After her retirement, Bess Flowers made one last on-camera appearance in 1974 when she was interviewed by NBC's Tom Snyder.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography