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Marie Dressler Biography

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Marie Dressler

Birthdate:   9 November 1868
Website: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0237597/
Category: Movies

Born Leila Marie Koerber in Cobourg, Ontario to parents Alexander Rudolph
Koerber (who was Austrian) and Anna Henderson. Being a rather overweight
child, she spent a lot of time developing the defense mechanisms many
overweight children become skilled at. The young Marie Dressler was able to
hone her talents to make other people laugh, and at 14 years old she began
her acting career in theatre. In 1892 she made her debut on Broadway. At
first she hoped to make a career of singing light opera, but then gravitated to

During the early 1900s, she became a major vaudeville star. In 1902, she met
fellow Canadian, Mack Sennett, and helped him get a job in the theater. In
addition to her stage work, Dressler recorded for Edison Records in 1909 and
1910. After Sennett became the owner of his namesake motion picture studio,
he convinced Dressler to star in his 1914 film Tillie's Punctured Romance
opposite Sennett’s newly discovered actor, Charlie Chaplin. Dressler appeared
in two more "Tillie" sequels plus other comedies until 1918 when she returned
to work in vaudeville.

In 1919, during the Actors' Equity strike in New York city, the Chorus Equity
Association was formed and voted Dressler its first president.

In 1927, she had been secretly blacklisted by the theater production
companies due to her strong stance in a labor dispute. It would turn out to be
another Canadian who gave her the opportunity to return to motion pictures,
MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer who called her "the most adored person ever
to set foot in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio."

A robust, full-bodied woman of very plain features, Marie Dressler’s comedy
films were very popular with the movie-going public and an equally lucrative
investment for MGM. Although past sixty years of age, she quickly became
Hollywood’s number one box office attraction and stayed on top for two
straight years. In addition to her comedic genius and her natural elegance,
she also demonstrated her considerable talents by taking on serious roles. For
her starring portrayal in Min and Bill, co-starring Wallace Beery, she won the
1931 Academy Award for Best Actress. Dressler was nominated again for Best
Actress for her 1932 role as Emma. With that film, Dressler demonstrated her
profound generosity to other performers: Dressler personally insisted that her
studio bosses cast a friend of hers, a then largely unknown young actor,
Richard Cromwell, in the lead opposite her. It was a break that helped launch
his career.

Dressler followed these successes with more hits in 1933 (like the wonderful
comedy Dinner at Eight, in which she played an aging and poor former stage
actress) and made the cover of the August 7, 1933 issue of Time magazine.
However, her career came to an abrupt end when she was diagnosed with
terminal cancer. MGM head Louis B. Mayer learned of Dressler's illness from
her doctor and asked that she not be told. To keep her home, he ordered her
not to travel on her vacation because he wanted to put her in a new film.
Dressler was furious but complied.

In all, Marie Dressler appeared in more than 40 films but only achieved
superstardom near the end of her life. Always seeing herself as physically
unattractive, she wrote an autobiography, The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling.

Marie Dressler died in Santa Barbara, California and is interred in a crypt in the
Great Mausoleum in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale,

from CKA famous canadian quotes

Quotes by Marie Dressler

  • By the time we hit fifty, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves.
  • Fate cast me to play the role of an ugly duckling with no promise of swanning. I have played my life as a comedy rather than the tragedy many would have made of it.
  • I contend that every woman has the right to feel beautiful, no matter how scrambled her features, or how indifferent her features.
  • No vice is so bad as advice.
  • There is a vast difference between success at twenty-five and success at sixty. At sixty, nobody envies you. Instead, everybody rejoices generously, sincerely, in your good fortune.

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Last updated: 14-09-07      Hits: 10981