Born Mary Robison. In her late teens she moved to the U.S. with no intention of becoming an actress; a few years later she became a widow, and in 1884 she took up acting to support her three children. She played both leads and supporting roles on the road and on Broadway, and over several decades she became highly respected as a character actress. From 1914-19 she appeared in a few silent films (sometimes billed as Mrs. Stuart Robson), then returned to the screen for good in 1926 and fourished in the subsequent sound era. She was usually cast as crusty, gruff, domineering society matrons or grandmothers. For her portrayal of Damon Runyon's Apple Annie in Frank Capra's Lady for a Day (1933), one of her rare starring roles, she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Ultimately she appeared in more than 60 films, the last of which was released the year of her death.