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margaret dumont
(1889-1965)

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         margaret
         dumont

dumont

m a r g a r e t   d u m o n t  :   b i o g .  ]


"I'm a straight lady, the best in Hollywood."
- margaret dumont


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    m a r g a r e t   d u m o n t  f a c t s

  • Name: Margaret Dumont
  • Birth name: Daisy Baker
  • Sometimes credited as:
      Daisy Baker
      Daisy Dumont
  • Born: 20 October 1889, Brooklyn, New York, USA
  • Spouse:
      John Moller Jr (1910 - ?) (his death)
  • Died: 6 March 1965, Hollywood, California, USA
  • Cause of death: Heart attack






    margaret
    dumont

    smiling without
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    Margaret Dumont autographs, photographs and more @ ebay.com (direct link to signed items - they do appear from time to time)

    Margaret Dumont was a versatile actress who played a wide range of roles during her 60-year theatrical career, but she will always be remembered as the naive social climber who so confidently entrusted her rise in society to Groucho in seven Marx Brothers films.

    Born Daisy Baker in 1889 in Atlanta, Georgia, she was brought up in the home of her godfather, Joel Chandler Harris, creator of Uncle Remus, Brer Rabbit, and Brer Fox. While still in her teens she became an actress, choosing as her stage name Daisy Dumont. She trained first for the opera, and then served her theatrical apprenticeship for two years as a show girl in the music halls of England and France, making her debut at the Casino de Paris. Reviewers commented on the 'tall, statuesque and beautiful' Daisy Dumont. She was playing in a musical, The Summer Widowers, when she met John Moller Jr, son of a wealthy businessman and a member of New York's socially prominent '400' families. They were married in 1910.

    When her husband died, Margaret Dumont resumed her theatrical career; 'My husband's family didn't entirely approve of my return to the stage,' she used to say, and it was while she was acting the part of a social climber in The Four Flusher that Sam Harris, who was producing The Cocoanuts on stage, cast her as Mrs Potter which was to be the first of her many comic trysts with Groucho.

    Morrie Ryskind, co-author of The Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930) and A Night at the Opera (1935), recalled that Margaret Dumont really was the character she played so successfully on stage and screen:

      'She'd been a social lady, and her husband died, so she needed a job. Groucho would explain to her that something was funny, and she would walk out to the audience and ask them what was going on.'

    Groucho described his favourite leading lady in the same way:

      'I enjoyed all my romantic scenes with Margaret Dumont. She was a wonderful woman. She was the same offstage as she was on it - always the stuffy, dignified matron. She took everything seriously. She would say to me: "Julie, why are they laughing?"'

    Actress Margaret 0'Sullivan said that Margaret Dumont actually believed that A Day at the Races (1937) was a serious film:

      'I used to get a lot of fun out of Margaret Dumont. She had no idea why A Day at the Races was funny or even that it was funny. When we started, she told me: "It's not going to be one of those things, I'm having a very serious part this time".'

    But in fact Margaret Dumont herself was far from naive about her contribution to A Day at the Races, for which she won the Screen Actors Guild award in 1937.

      'I'm a straight lady, the best in Hollywood. There is an art to playing the straight role. You must build up your man but never top him, never steal the laughs.'

    She once expressed her own conception of her famous dignity:

      'It isn't the gown or its fine material that . makes a woman stylish or otherwise nowadays, but her carriage and the amount of clothing she has on beneath the gown.'

    Besides the 7 Marx Brothers films, Margaret Dumont appeared in 36 others, including memorable performances in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) with W.C. Fields and The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) with Jack Benny. In her last film, What a Way to Go (1964). she played Shirley MacLaine's shrewish mother so convincingly that few recognized her as the grande dame of the Marx Brothers comedies. She herself was happily resigned to being type-cast.

    She died of a heart attack on March 6, 1965, at the age of 76. That inimitable quality which set her apart from all other actresses was perhaps best described by George Cukor, who directed her in The Women:

      'Her elegance was so perfectly bogus.'







        filmography

      • 1917 A Tale of Two Cities
      • 1929 The Cocoanuts
      • 1930 Animal Crackers
      • 1931 The Girl Habit
      • 1933 Duck Soup
      • 1934 Fifteen Wives (GB: The Man With the Electric Voice)
      • 1934 Kentucky Kernels (GB: Triple Trouble)
      • 1934 Gridiron Flash (GB: Luck of the Game)
      • 1935 A Night at the Opera
      • 1935 Orchids to You
      • 1935 Rendezvous
      • 1936 Song and Dance Man
      • 1936 Anything Goes
      • 1937 A Day at the Races
      • 1937 Life of the Party
      • 1937 Youth on Parole
      • 1937High Flyers
      • 1937 Wise Girl
      • 1938 Dramatic School
      • 1939 The Women
      • 1939At the Circus
      • 1941 The Big Store
      • 1941 For Beauty's Sake
      • 1941 Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (GB: What a Man)
      • 1942 Born to Sing
      • 1942 Sing Your Worries Away
      • 1942 About Pace
      • 1942 Rhythm Parade
      • 1942 Dancing Masters
      • 1944 Up in Arms
      • 1944 Seven Days Ashore
      • 1944 Bathing Beauty
      • 1945 The Horn Blows at Midnight
      • 1945 Sunset in Eldorado
      • 1945 Diamond Horseshoe
      • 1946 Little Giant (GB: On the Carpet)
      • 1946 Susie Steps Out
      • 1952 Three for Bedroom C
      • 1953 Stop, You're Killing Me
      • 1956 Shake, Rattle and Rock
      • 1959 Auntie Mame (uncredited)
      • 1962 Zotz!
      • 1964 What a Way to Go!






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