She wasn’t glamourous, but she held her own against the beauties of the 1930s- the Gold Diggers and Busby Berkeley girls of Warner Bros. And she was a damn good actress.
When we did several blogs about character actress Agnes Moorehead, one of our regular readers, Mike Sheridan, commented: I have always loved A.M.’ s work and think she’s much under appreciated. In my Hollywood comparisons I always team up Agnes with Aline MacMahon…. How about a column on her, fellas?
Yes Mike, MacMahon, too, is under appreciated. We’re here to help right that wrong. MacMahon worked continuously from 1921 until she retired in 1975. First on Broadway, later films and then television.
Catch her in 1932’s One Way Passage with Kay Francis, William Powell and Frank McHugh. Then watch her in Kind Lady, and Ah Wilderness. Her most famous film, however, is Dragon Seed, for which she received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress. It was the film version of Pearl Buck’s best selling novel about the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s. MacMahon got third billing after Katherine Hepburn and Walter Huston. By the way Agnes Moorehead was in this one too.
One of MacMahon’s last and best films was the Judy Garland/Dirk Bogarde melodrama, I Could Go On Singing.
Aline’s father was Irish, her mother Russian Jewish. Her mother lived to 105 and died only 7 years before MacMahon herself, who died at 92 in 1991.