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Jane Darwell

From Academic Kids

Jane Darwell (October 15, 1879August 13, 1967) was an American theater and film actress.

Born Patti Woodward in Palmyra, Missouri, Darwell originally intended to become a circus performer, however her family objected and she compromised by becoming an actress. She began her acting career in theater productions in Chicago and made her first film appearance in 1913. She appeared in almost twenty films over the next two years before returning to the stage.

After a 15 year absence from films, she resumed her film career in 1930 with a role in Tom Sawyer, and her career as a Hollywood character actress began. Short, stout and plain faced she was quickly cast in a succession of films usually as the mother of one of the major characters. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), a role she was given at the insistence of the film's star, Henry Fonda.

By the end of her career she had appeared in more than 170 films, including Huckleberry Finn (1931), Roman Scandals (1933), Jesse James, The Rains Came, Gone With the Wind (all 1939), The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), My Darling Clementine (1946) and Caged (1950). Always popular within the film industry, her final role as the old woman feeding the birds in Mary Poppins was personally given to her by Walt Disney.

She died from a heart attack in Woodland Hills, California and was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

Jane Darwell has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to Motion Pictures, at 6735 Hollywood Boulevard.

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