The Well-Rounded Mama

Periodically on this blog, we look at the full lives of famous unwanted fat people of the recent just for fun. So far we’ve viewed Sophie Tucker and Marie Dressler. Today we are discussing Jane Darwell. Fat people are tremendously underrepresented in Hollywood, and even though they have a good role actually, positive portrayals seem few and between far.

It’s beneficial to remember that there actually have been a number of fat folk who’ve quietly acquired real achievements even if they often get forgotten. Jane Darwell was an celebrity whose profession spanned the stage, silent films, and talkies, and who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She was born Patti Woodard to a well-off family in Missouri in 1879. Her father was president of a railroad company. She was bit by the acting insect and flirted with the options of circus rider and opera singer before deciding to become an actress. In an era when performing was considered a disreputable profession for females, she chose to change her name to “Darwell” so she wouldn’t embarrass her family.

She started her career in stage productions in Chicago, appeared in her first film in 1913 in her mid-30s then. After working in films for some time, she went back to the stage for 15 years. In 1930, she returned to films with “Tom Sawyer,” and experienced a dynamic profession on both film and stage thereafter.

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The best jobs of her profession were as an older celebrity. Because she was seen as “short, stout, and ordinary,” she played character parts always, usually the grandmother, the housekeeper, etc. She made an appearance in five Shirley Temple films in those types of individuals. Here she is up to now another maid on the group of “Craig’s Wife,” taking a look at a script with Rosalind Russell.

Most often, though, the mother was played by her of one of the primary characters. She was seen as the quintessential mother figure, ironic since she never really had children herself. In “Gone with the Wind,” she played Mrs. Dolly Merriwether, a Southern matron and society gossip. In this role, she was noted for having a booming physical and vocal existence on screen. Hollywood. She wore jeans, rode astride, and was a take-charge woman in a sexist frontier town in this old Western about the moral issue of capital abuse.

However, it was her role as Ma Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940) that gained Darwell the most acclaim. Her silent power in keeping her family regardless of the studies of the fantastic Melancholy collectively, the Dust Bowl, losing the family plantation, and the hard life of migrant farm work was the center of the film in lots of ways. One of her most effective scenes was of Ma Joad silently going right through her things in her house as the family is about to leave it permanently.

She looks at her mementos, saying farewell mentally, burning most of them because she knows they have no place in her new life. A pair is held by her of nice earrings up to her ears one last time, remembering better times but realizing she’ll never wear them again. But resolutely Mournfully, she leaves them behind. The director, John Ford, doesn’t rush the scene or clutter it up with dialogue.