Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born Leila Marie Koerber in Cobourg, Ontario, she became a leading comedienne during the silent film era. At the age of 14, she began her acting career in theatre, and in 1892 she made her debut on Broadway. At first she hoped to make a career of singing light Opera, but then gravitated to Vaudeville.
During the early 1900s, she became a major vaudeville star. In 1902, she met fellow Canadian, Mack Sennett, and helped him get a job in the theater. In addition to her stage work, Dressler recorded for Edison Records in 1909 and 1910. After Sennett became the owner of his namesake motion picture studio, he convinced Dressler to star in his 1914 film Tillie's Punctured Romance opposite Sennett’s newly discovered actor, Charlie Chaplin. Dressler appeared in two more "Tillie" sequels plus other comedies until 1918 when she returned to work in vaudeville.
In 1927, she had been secretly blacklisted by the theater production companies due to her strong stance in a labor dispute. It would turn out to be another Canadian who gave her the opportunity to return to motion pictures, MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer who called her "the most adored person ever to set foot in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio."
A robust woman of very plain features, Marie Dressler’s comedy films were very popular with the movie-going public and an equally lucrative investment for MGM. Although past sixty years of age, she quickly became Hollywood’s number one box office attraction and stayed on top for four straight years. In addition to her comedic genius, she also demonstrated her considerable talents by taking on serious roles. For her starring portrayal in Min and Bill she won the 1931 Academy Award for Best Actress. Dressler was nominated again for Best Actress for her 1932 role as Emma. With that film, Dressler demonstrated her profound generosity to other performers: Dressler personally insisted that her studio bosses cast a friend of hers and then largely unknown young actor, Richard Cromwell, in the lead opposite her. It was a break that helped launch his career.
Dressler followed these successes with more hits in 1933 and made the cover of the August 7, 1933 issue of Time magazine. However, her career came to an abrupt end when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In all, Marie Dressler appeared in more than 40 films. Always seeing herself as physically unattractive, she wrote an autobiography, The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1731 Vine Street.. Each year the Marie Dressler Film Festival is held in her home town of Cobourg, Ontario.
More recently, another biography was published entitled: Marie Dressler: The Unlikliest Star by Ontario resident and writer Betty Lee.
- Going Hollywood - (1933)
- Christopher Bean - (1933)
- Dinner at Eight - (1933)
- Tugboat Annie - (1933)
- Prosperity - (1932)
- Emma - (1932)
- The Christmas Party - (1931)
- Politics - (1931)
- Reducing - (1931)
- Min and Bill - (1931)
- The March of Time - (1930)
- Anna Christie (1930)
- Derelict - (1930)
- Let Us Be Gay - (1930)
- Caught Short - (1930)
- One Romantic Night - (1930)
- The Girl Said No - (1930)
- Chasing Rainbows - (1930)
- Voice of Hollywood - (1929)
- The Vagabond Lover - (1929)
- Dangerous Females - (1929)
- The Hollywood Revue of 1929 - (1929)
- The Divine Lady - (1929)
- The Patsy - (1928)
- Bringing Up Father - (1928)
- Breakfast at Sunrise - (1927)
- The Joy Girl - (1927)
- The Callahans and the Murphys - (1927)
- The Red Cross Nurse - (1918)
- The Agonies of Agnes - (1918)
- The Scrub Lady - (1917)
- Tillie Wakes Up - (1917)
- Tillie's Tomato Surprise - (1915)
- Tillie's Punctured Romance - (1914)
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