|Born||November 10, 1885|
Beaufort, South Carolina, U.S.
|Died||July 23, 1961 75) (aged|
Queen of Angels Hospital, Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Arthur J. Beckhard|
(m. 1922; died 1961)
Esther Dale (November 10, 1885 – July 23, 1961) was an American actress of the stage and screen, best known perhaps for her role as Aunt Genevieve in the 1935 Shirley Temple vehicle, Curly Top .
Dale was born in Beaufort, South Carolina. She attended Leland and Gray Seminary in Townshend, Vermont. In Berlin, Germany, she studied music and enjoyed a successful career as a singer of lieder on the concert stage.Her singing career included appearances with the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
At one point, Dale was head of Smith College's vocal department.
In America, Dale transferred to the acting stage and cultivated a career as an actress in Summer stock. She starred in Carrie Nation on Broadway in 1933. Her other Broadway credits include Harvest of Years (1947), And Be My Love (1944), and Another Language (1932).
Dale's first film was Crime Without Passion (1934) in an uncredited role. She was a familiar face in films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, frequently playing stern, authoritarian characters such as prison matrons and head nurses, although she was equally adept at playing grande dames and ladies of the upper class. She played Birdie Hicks in the Ma and Pa Kettle films The Egg and I (1947), Ma and Pa Kettle (1949), Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1952), and Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki (1955).
Dale played many roles in television over the years.
In 1957, she appeared in the 1957 Maverick episode "According to Hoyle" opposite James Garner. That same year, she guest-starred in the TV Western series Wagon Train , playing Grandma Birch, in the episode “The Julie Gage Story”.
In the 1958-1959 season of The Donna Reed Show , Dale played a job-seeking housekeeper who is frightened from the Stone home by Jeff Stone's pet mouse.
Dale died in the summer of 1961 following surgery in Queen of Angels Hospital in Hollywood. Her husband, writer-director Arthur J. Beckhard, had died four months earlier.
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