[Maria Ouspenskaya portrait]

Maria Ouspenskaya

(aka Mme. Maria Ouspenskaya, Mariya Uspenskaya)
July 29, 1876 - December 3, 1949
Born in Tula, Russia

Studied under Stanislavski at the Moscow Art Theatre, and promoted his Method as a teacher.
Came to America with the Art Theatre in 1922. Founded her own School of Dramatic Arts
in New York in 1929, working in motion pictures after 1936 to keep it solvent, and
moving the school to Hollywood when her career in films flourished.
Students included John Garfield, Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg.

Two Oscar nominations as Best Supporting Actress: Dodsworth (1936) and Love Affair (1939).

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A Few Favorite Memories of Maria Ouspenskaya

Dodsworth (1936), a sensitive film about middle-aged angst and a failing marriage, based on Sinclair Lewis's novel, directed by William Wyler.
Mme. Maria Ouspenskaya plays the elderly German "Baroness Von Obersdorf," putting an end to her son's romance with the protagonist's frivolous older wife with a few devastating words. Mme. Ouspenskaya was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for her performance in this film.
Starring Walter Huston as the aging industrialist Dodsworth, Ruth Chatterton as his wife, and Mary Astor as the other woman, with Paul Lukas, Kathryn Marlowe, David Niven, Gregory Gaye, Odette Myrtil, John Payne, Spring Byington, Harlan Briggs and Dale Van Sickel.

Conquest (1937), based on a novel by Waclaw Gasiorowski, directed by Clarence Brown and Gustav Machatư.
An epic historical drama about the romance between the Emperor Napoleon (Boyer) and a Polish countess (Garbo).
Maria Ouspenskaya, as "Countess Pelagia Walewska," has a memorable scene playing cards with Napoleon and accusing him of cheating.
Starring Greta Garbo (as Countess Marie Walewska) and Charles Boyer, and many great character players that should interest classic horror fans, including Reginald Owen, Alan Marshal, Henry Stephenson, Leif Erickson, Dame May Whitty, C. Henry Gordon, Claude Gillingwater, Vladimir Sokoloff, George Houston, Stanley Andrews, Henry Brandon, Yakima Canutt, Lane Chandler , Harry Cording, D'Arcy Corrigan, Paul Fix, Ralf Harolde, Olaf Hytten, Noble Johnson, Henry Kolker, Adia Kuznetzoff, Frank Lackteen, Ivan Lebedeff, Mitchell Lewis, Francis McDonald, Charles Middleton, John Picorri, Ken Terrell, Roland Varno, Robert Warwick, Ian Wolfe and George Zucco!

Love Affair (1939), a classic romance directed by Leo McCarey.
The film is about a French playboy (Charles Boyer) and an American woman (Irene Dunne) who have a shipboard romance and plan to meet again six months later atop the Empire State Building. Their reunion is foiled by a tragic accident, but is tearfully overcome in the finale. The storyline was revisited in two other highly-successful romances: An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr (1957), and Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (1993).
Maria Ouspenskaya plays Boyer's "Grandmother Janou," encouraging him with her example of happy married life.
Mme. Ouspenskaya was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for her performance in this film.
Starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne, with Lee Bowman, Astrid Allwyn, Maurice Moscovich, Tom Dugan, Bess Flowers, Leyland Hodgson, Carol Hughes, Frank McGlynn Sr., Gerald Mohr and Henry Norton.

Beyond Tomorrow (1940), a romantic fantasy directed by A. Edward Sutherland.
Three rich but lonely old engineers take a supportive interest in the romance of a young couple, and continue to watch over them as benevolent ghosts after they die in a plane crash.
Maria Ouspenskaya plays "Mme. Tanya," a retainer to the three old friends.
Starring Harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith and Charles Winninger as the ghostly benefactors, and Richard Carlson and Jean Parker as the young lovers, ably supported by Alex Melesh, Helen Vinson, Rod La Rocque, J. Anthony Hughes, Robert Homans, Virginia McMullen, James Bush, William Bakewell, Dan White and Hank Worden.

The Wolf Man (1941), based on an original screenplay by Curt Siodmak, and directed by George Waggner.
Universal's mythic masterpiece of classic horror, more bleak and cynical than any film noir.
Maria Ouspenskay plays "Maleva," the Gypsy woman, mother of one poor doomed soul and surrogate mother to another, bearing her sorrow with the patient resignation born of age and tragic experience.
With one of the finest casts in classic horror: Lon Chaney Jr. in his best-known role, Evelyn Ankers, Maria Ouspenskaya, Bela Lugosi, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, J.M. Kerrigan, Fay Helm, Forrester Harvey, Jessie Arnold, Caroline Cooke, Harry Cording, Margaret Fealy, Gibson Gowland, Leyland Hodgson, Olaf Hytten, Kurt Katch, La Riana, Connie Leon, Doris Lloyd, Ottola Nesmith, Eddie Polo, Ernie Stanton, Tom Stevenson, Harry Stubbs and Eric Wilton.
An inspired script by Siodmak, a great score by Hans J. Salter, Charles Previn and Frank Skinner, and the usual fabulous makeup we always expect from Jack P. Pierce.

Mystery of Marie Roget (1942), based on the classic story of detection by Edgar Allan Poe, directed by Phil Rosen.
Maria Ouspenskaya plays "Madame Cecile Roget," mother of a missing girl (Montez) who hires a scientific detective to investigate and reveal the identitity of the Phantom Mangler of Paris.
With Patric Knowles, Lloyd Corrigan, Nell O'Day, John Litel, Edward Norris, Maria Montez, Clyde Fillmore, Norma Drury, Charles Middleton, Paul E. Burns, Frank Reicher, Paul Dubov, Raymond Bailey, Joseph E. Bernard, Paul Bryar, Caroline Cooke, Lester Dorr, Reed Hadley, Alphonse Martell, John Maxwell, Frank O'Connor, Beatrice Roberts, Dorothy Triden and Charles Wagenheim.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), with a screenplay by Curt Siodmak, directed by Roy William Neill.
A definite step in the fright direction toward Universal's forthcoming Monster Rally spectaculars.
Maria Ouspenskaya reprises her immortal "Maleva" the Gypsy woman role, with a monstrously fine supporting cast including Bela Lugosi (as The Frankenstein Monster, a role he was bored to play), Lon Chaney Jr. (dramatically returning from the dead as the Wolf Man, Lawrence Stewart Talbot), Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Dennis Hoey, Don Barclay, Rex Evans, Dwight Frye, Harry Stubbs, David Clyde, Jeff Corey, Sonia Darrin, Cyril Delevanti, Lance Fuller, Charles Irwin, Adia Kuznetzoff, Doris Lloyd, Torben Meyer, Beatrice Roberts, Tom Stevenson and Martha Vickers, with thrilling monster-doubling stunts by Eddie Parker and Gil Perkins.
Produced by George Waggner, with a terrific score by Hans J. Salter, makeup by Jack P. Pierce, special effects by John P. Fulton, and lyrics for the unforgettable song "Faro la, faro li" by Curt Siodmak.

Tarzan and the Amazons (1945), based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, directed by Kurt Neumann.
Mme. Maria Ouspenskaya plays the "Amazon Queen," who needs Tarzan's help to protect her tribe of female warriors from the exploitation of outsiders.
Starring Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Brenda Joyce (Jane) and Johnny Sheffield (Boy), with Henry Stephenson, Barton MacLane, Don Douglas, Steven Geray, J.M. Kerrigan, Shirley O'Hara, Frederic Brunn, Frank Darien and Lionel Royce.

Go Back to BOOS WHO Classic Horror Players Directory List

Last revised August 22, 2005 by George "E-gor" Chastain.

Maintained by George "E-gor" Chastain (E-mail: chastain@mail.wvnet.edu)