Florence Bates

Active - 1937 - 1953  |   Born - Apr 15, 1888   |   Died - Jan 31, 1954   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actress Florence Bates had been a moderately successful lawyer for two decades when, as a lark, she started acting at California's Pasadena Playhouse in the mid 1930s. After playing a small role in the 1937 film Man In Blue (1937), Bates was "officially" discovered by Hollywood when she was cast as vainglorious dowager Mrs. Van Hopper in Alfred Hitchcock's Oscar-winning Rebecca (1940). From that point onward, Bates became one of Hollywood's favorite "society dragons," most effectively cast in comedies like Heaven Can Wait (1943), as one of Don Ameche's hell-bound old flames, and in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1948), as Danny Kaye's terrifying future mother-in-law. Her most significant "straight" part was in I Remember Mama (1948), as the forbiddingly famous author Florence Dana Morehead, whom Irene Dunne, as Mama, timidly approaches on behalf of Dunne's aspiring-writer daughter. Though in fragile health, Florence Bates entered television with the same forcefulness as she'd invaded movies, providing a welcome touch of professionalism to the otherwise atrocious early 1950s situation comedy The Hank McCune Show.

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