Beulah Bondi

Active - 1931 - 1972  |   Born - May 3, 1888   |   Died - Jan 11, 1981   |   Genres - Drama, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actress Beulah Bondi entered the theatre at age 7, playing the male role of Little Lord Fauntleroy; it would be her last role "in drag" and one of the very few times that she'd play a character her own age. Upon graduation from Valparaiso University, she joined a stock company, working throughout the US until her 1925 Broadway debut in Wild Birds. Even in her late twenties and early thirties, Bondi specialized in playing mothers, grandmothers and society dowagers. She made her first film, Street Scene, in 1931, concentrating on movies thereafter. She is best known to modern film fans for her role as James Stewart's mother in the Christmastime favorite It's a Wonderful Life (1946). It was but one of several occasions (among them Vivacious Lady [1938] and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939]) that the actress played Stewart's mother; as late as 1971, Bondi was essaying the same role in the short-lived sitcom The Jimmy Stewart Show. Even after her "official" screen retirement - her last film was Tammy and the Doctor (1963), in which, not surprisingly, she played a wealthy old invalid - Bondi kept herself open for television roles, including an Emmy-winning 1977 performance on the dramatic TV series The Waltons.

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