Vera Lewis

Active - 1914 - 1947  |   Born - Jan 10, 1873   |   Died - Feb 8, 1956   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Crime

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Affectionately described by film historian William K. Everson as "That lovable old wreck of a busybody," actress Vera Lewis was indeed quite lovable in person, even though most of her screen characters were sharp-tongued and spiteful in the extreme. Lewis first appeared in films in 1915, playing bits in such historical spectacles as D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916) and the privately-funded Argonauts of California. By the 1920s, she was well-established in such venomous characterizations as the remonstrative stepmother in the 1926 Colleen Moore starrer Ella Cinders. She continued playing small-town snoops, gimlet-eyed landladies, irksome relatives and snobbish society doyennes well into the talkie era. Even when unbilled, Lewis was unforgettable: in 1933's King Kong, she's the outraged theater patron who mercilessly browbeats an usher upon finding out that the mighty Kong will be appearing in person instead of on film. When all is said and done, Vera Lewis was never better than when she was playing a gorgon-like mother-in-law, as witness her work as Mrs. Nesselrode in W.C. Fields' Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935) and as Andy Clyde's vituperative mom-by-marriage in the 1947 2-reeler Wife to Spare.

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