Lucile Watson

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Lucile Watson
Lucile Watson.jpg
Watson, 1920s
Born(1879-05-27)May 27, 1879
DiedJune 24, 1962(1962-06-24) (aged 83)
New York City, U.S.
Years active1902–1954
Spouse(s) Rockliffe Fellowes
(m. 190?; div. 19??)
Louis Evan Shipman
(m. 1926;died 1933)

Lucile Watson (May 27, 1879 – June 24, 1962) was a Canadian actress, long based in the United States. She was "famous for her roles of formidable dowagers." [1]


Early years

Watson was born in Quebec and raised in Ottawa, the daughter of an officer in the British Army. Despite his wishes, she traveled to New York City and enrolled in a dramatic school. [2]


Watson as Fanny Farrelly in the original Broadway production of Watch on the Rhine, 1941 Watch-on-the-Rhine-1941-2.jpg
Watson as Fanny Farrelly in the original Broadway production of Watch on the Rhine , 1941

Watson began her career on the stage debuting on Broadway in the play Hearts Aflame in 1902. Her next play was The Girl with Green Eyes, the first of several Clyde Fitch stories. At the end of 1903, Watson appeared in Fitch's Glad of It. This play featured several young performers, including Watson who moved to major Broadway or motion picture prominence: Robert Warwick, John Barrymore, Thomas Meighan, and Grant Mitchell. For the rest of the decade, she appeared in several more Fitch stories into the 1910s. Fitch died in 1909.[ citation needed ]

Watson was primarily a stage actress, appearing in 39 Broadway plays. [3] She starred in plays such as Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines , Heartbreak House , Ghosts , The Importance of Being Earnest , and Pride and Prejudice .

Watson's first film role was in the 1916 silent film The Girl with Green Eyes, a film version of the Clyde Fitch play she had performed on Broadway in 1902. She did not appear in another movie until 1930 when she had an uncredited role in The Royal Family of Broadway . In 1939, she played a memorable role as Norma Shearer's wise mother in the cultural comedy/drama from the Clare Booth Luce play The Women.

Watson reached the height of her adult acting career in playwright Lillian Hellman's anti-fascist dramatic stage play Watch on the Rhine on Broadway in 1941, starring Paul Lukas. Two years later in Hollywood, she and Lukas reprised their roles in the film adaptation. [4] In perhaps her best known film role, Lucile Watson's performance as Fanny Farrelly received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Lucile Watson played Aunt March in the 1949 film version of Little Women , whose stars included Elizabeth Taylor as Amy. The following year, she was cast along with her famous The Women co-star Joan Crawford in the melodrama Harriet Craig .

Personal life

Watson's first name, Lucile, is often misspelled in her movie credits as Lucille. Sometime in the 1910s, she was briefly married to silent film star Rockliffe Fellowes; they had no children. Her second husband was playwright Louis E. Shipman, whom she married in 1928; he died five years later, in 1933.


Watson died on June 25, 1962, [5] after suffering a heart attack at age 83. She is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.[ citation needed ]

Broadway roles

Partial filmography

Frame from trailer for Waterloo Bridge, 1940. Note her name is misspelled in the credit. Lucille Watson in Waterloo Bridge trailer.jpg
Frame from trailer for Waterloo Bridge , 1940. Note her name is misspelled in the credit.


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  1. "Famed actress dies at 83". California, Redlands. Redlands Daily Facts. June 26, 1962. p. 5. Retrieved March 14, 2016 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  2. "Lucile Watson, Type". D.C, Washington. The Washington Herald. February 9, 1919. p. 15. Retrieved March 14, 2016 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  3. "Lucile Watson". Playbill. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  4. Watch on the Rhine at the Internet Broadway Database
  5. "Lucile Watson, Actress, 83, Dies". Connecticut, Bridgeport. The Bridgeport Post. June 25, 1962. p. 24. Retrieved March 14, 2016 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  6. "Watch on the Rhine". Internet Broadway Database . Retrieved 2017-02-28.

Further reading