MILDRED NATWICK was an American actress born on this date (d: 1994). She won a Primetime Emmy Award and was nominated for an Academy Award and two Tony Awards. Natwick was a lesbian whose gayness was an open secret in the theatre community. She appeared in 40 Broadway shows: musicals, classics, dramas and comedies, plus 30 films.
Natwick began performing on the stage at age 21 with “The Vagabonds”, a non-professional theatre group in Baltimore. She soon joined the University Players on Cape Cod. Natwick made her Broadway debut in 1932 playing Mrs. Noble in Frank McGrath’s play Carry Nation, about the famous temperance crusader Carrie Nation. Throughout the 1930s she starred in a number of plays, frequently collaborating with friend and actor-director-playwright Joshua Logan. On Broadway, she played “Prossy” in Katharine Cornell’s production of Candida. She made her film debut in John Ford’s The Long Voyage Home as a Cockney slattern, and portrayed the landlady in The Enchanted Cottage.
Natwick is remembered for small but memorable roles in several John Ford film classics, including 3 Godfathers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and The Quiet Man. She played Miss Ivy Gravely, in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry, and a sorceress in The Court Jester.
She continued to appear onstage, and made regular guest appearances in television series. In May 1950, she starred in “Listen, Listen” on Suspense.
She was twice nominated for Tony Awards: in 1957 for The Waltz of the Toreadors, the same year she also starred in Tammy and the Bachelor with Debbie Reynolds and Leslie Nielsen and in 1972 for the musical 70 Girls 70. She returned to film in Barefoot in the Park as the mother of the character played by Jane Fonda. The role earned Natwick her only Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting actress. One of Natwick’s memorable roles was in The House Without a Christmas Tree, which starred Jason Robards and Lisa Lucas. The program’s success spawned three sequels: The Thanksgiving Treasure, The Easter Promise, and Addie and The King of Hearts.
In 1971, Natwick co-starred with Helen Hayes in the ABC Movie of the Week, Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate, in which their characters worked together as amateur sleuths. The success of that telefilm resulted in a similar team-up the next year, portraying two mystery-writing and solving sisters; this spawned the 1973-74 series The Snoop Sisters, which was part of The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie. For her performance, Natwick won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. In 1981, Natwick joined Hayes as the first members of the Board of Advisors to the Riverside Shakespeare Company. Both attended and supported several fund raisers for that off-Broadway theatre company.
She guest-starred on such television series as McMillan & Wife, Family, Alice, The Love Boat, Hawaii Five-O, The Bob Newhart Show and Murder, She Wrote. She made her final film appearance at age 83 in the historical drama Dangerous Liaisons.
Natwick lived in a duplex on Park Avenue in Manhattan for the majority of her life. She was a devout Christian Scientist. A Republican, she supported Dwight Eisenhower during the 1952 presidential election. She died of cancer at her home in Manhattan at age 89.