Actress. She is best remembered for her role of Auntie Em in the 1939 film classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” Born Clara Dickey, she was the daughter of Isaac B. and Hattie Mudgett Dickey. Her father was Captain of a small American merchant ship, the “Willard Mudgett,” and she was born aboard her father’s ship while it was anchored in Hong Kong harbor. She grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and began her acting career there in the play “Richard Lovelace” about 1898. In 1900, she moved to New York City, where she was cast in the play, “If I Were King” at the Garden Theater. On December 7, 1905, in Manhattan, New York City, she married mining engineer Harry Staunton Elliott, but they divorced about seven years later, having no children. In 1911, she acted in her first movie, a silent film entitled “The Maid’s Double.” The next year, she acted on Broadway in the play “Widow by Proxy,” which ran for nearly two years in George M. Cohan’s Broadway Theater. She then performed on various stages on the east coast as an actress in the stock theater company, The Poli Players. She achieved critical fame in the lead role of “Madame Butterfly” two years later. In 1914, she was back in silent movies, in the role of Emily Mason in “Mrs Black is Back.” During World War I, she volunteered for the American Expeditionary Force, and served in France, although she returned to work in silent films following the war. In 1929, Blandick moved to Hollywood, and quickly became a dependable supporting actress, landing roles such as Aunt Polly in “Tom Sawyer” (1930), and reprising the same role in “Huckleberry Finn” (1931). Blandick would act for most every major studio in Hollywood, rather than sign with just one studio, and would often appear uncredited in her films. It is estimated that she appeared in between 100 to 200 films during her career in Hollywood, almost all as a supporting character. Her final role came as a landlady in “Love that Brute” (1950). Following that movie, she retired from acting at the age of 69 and spent the remainder of her life living at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. During the 1950s, her health began to deteriorate, and she suffered from impending blindness and severe arthritis. On April 15, 1962, at the age of 81 and following Palm Sunday church services, she took an overdose of sleeping pills, and lay down on her couch. She left behind a note, in which she stated, “I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.” She was found later that day by her landlady and friend, Helen Mason. She was interred in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
- June, 04, 1881
- April, 15, 1962
- Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)