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Thread: Clara Blandick -- Auntie Em

  1. #1
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    Clara Blandick -- Auntie Em

    06/04/81---04/15/62




    Born Clara Dickey, the daughter of Isaac B. and Hattie (Mudgett) Dickey, aboard the Willard Mudgett—an American ship captained by her father, and docked in Hong Kong harbor. Her parents settled in Quincy, Massachusetts, by 1880.

    Acting

    Clara moved from Boston to New York City by 1900 to pursue an acting career. Her first professional appearance came in 1901, when she was cast as Jehanneton in the play If I Were King, which ran at Garden Theatre (an early component of Madison Square Garden). In 1911 she made her first movie, appearing in the short, silent film The Maid's Double. Blandick finally broke onto Broadway in 1912, when she was cast as Dolores Pennington in Widow By Proxy which ran through early 1913 at George M. Cohan's Theatre on Broadway.
    She would continue to achieve success on the stage, playing a number of starring roles, including the lead in Madame Butterfly. By 1914 she was reappearing on the silver screen, this time as Emily Mason in the film Mrs. Black is Back.

    In 1929, Blandick moved to Hollywood. By the 1930s, she was well-known in theatrical and film circles as an established supporting actress. Though she landed roles like Aunt Polly in the 1930 film Tom Sawyer (a role she reprised in the 1931 film Huckleberry Finn), she spent much of the decade as a character actor, often going uncredited. At a time when many actors were permanently attached to a single studio, Blandick played a wide number of bit parts for almost every major Hollywood studio (though she would later be under contract with 20th Century Fox). In 1930, she acted in nine different films. In 1931 she was in thirteen different films. As is the case with some other busy character actors, it's impossible to make an exact tally of the films in which Clara appeared. A reasonable estimate would fall between 150 and 200.

    In 1939, Blandick landed her most memorable minor role yet – Auntie Em in MGM's The Wizard of Oz. Though it was a small part (Blandick filmed all her scenes in a single week), the character was an important symbol of protagonist Dorothy's quest to return home throughout the film. (Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are the only characters from the beginning of the movie not to have true alter ego characters in the Land Of Oz). Blandick beat out May Robson, Janet Beecher, and Sarah Padden for the role, and earned $750 per week. Some believed Auntie Em's alter ego was to be the Good Witch of the North but opted to use different actresses for each role rather than have a dual role for this. The reason was they wanted someone younger looking to contrast the good witch from the bad witches. Ironically, Billie Burke, who played the Witch of the North, was only 8 years younger than Blandick.
    Though the Auntie Em character proved memorable to audiences, few fans knew Blandick's name. She was not billed in the opening credits and is listed last in the movie's closing credits.
    After The Wizard of Oz, Blandick returned to her staple of character acting in supporting and bit roles. She retired from acting at the age of 69 and went into seclusion at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

    Death

    Throughout the 1950s, Blandick's health steadily began to fail. She started going blind and began suffering from severe arthritis. On April 15, 1962, she returned home from Palm Sunday services at her church. Her residence was 1735 North Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles, California. She began rearranging her room, placing her favorite photos and memorabilia in prominent places. She laid out her resume and a collection of press clippings from her lengthy career. She dressed immaculately, in an elegant royal blue dressing gown. Then, with her hair properly styled, she took an overdose of sleeping pills. She lay down on a couch, covered herself with a gold blanket over her shoulders, and tied a plastic bag over her head. Clara left the following note: “I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”
    Her landlady, Helen Mason, found her body Sunday morning. In preparing to die, Clara disposed of all her medicines the previous week. She told James Busch, a friend for many years, that they might be discovered if anything happened to her.
    She was interred at the Great Mausoleum, Columbarium of Security (Niche 17230) at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale. Blandick was survived by a niece, Mrs. Katherine Hopkins, of Hayward, California. The actress was married Dec. 7, 1905, in Manhattan, to mining engineer Harry Staunton Elliott. They separated by 1910, and are said to have divorced in 1912. They had no children.








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  2. #2
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    Thanks for that cach! I loved Auntie Em.

    I am sad that she felt that was her only option at the end.

    RIP.

  3. #3
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    Oh Auntie Em! I had no idea!!!

  4. #4
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    I hadn't any idea either!
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    "So, what, no fuckin' ziti now?"

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    thanks- very interesting. A minor correction- Blandick was only 3 years older than Billie Burke, assuming Blandick's 1881 year of birth is correct.

    Blandick has nice, but small, of course, parts in The Bitter Tea of General Yen, and Life With Father.

  6. #6
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    that forset lawn ad wood get more eyes if they put young ppl in it ppl see old ppl n dont think or care

  7. #7
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    What a story!

    That was very interesting of Clara. Especially the ending. They should make a movie of her life. Scott???
    Scott Michaels knows more about death than Dexter.

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    What an incredibly sad story. I really don't think I wanted to know that!



  9. #9
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    "The Wizard of OZ" is one of my favorite movies, and I of course remember her in that movie, but I new absolutely nothing about her. Great post. Thank you.
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    Wizard of OZ Suicide

    is this a hoax or did someone actually commit Suicide during the filming of the wizard of oz and they didn't cut it out of the film?

    please share what you know death hags!

  11. #11
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    Hoax. It's a trainer holding a bird.

    http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/ozsuicide.asp

  12. #12
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    Thanks!

    here's the link from You tube...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r89z_-1by6U

  13. #13
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    I should have known...No one hangs themselves sideways lol

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    She didn't do it on the set but eventually Auntie Em did herself in...


    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0087404/

  15. #15
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    Clara Blandick was a character actress who was born aboard an American ship off the coast of Hong Kong on June 4, 1880. Little is known about her early life until she became an actress. Although she appeared in 118 films, she was primarily a stage actress. Clara actually began her film career at a late age. She was 33 when she was picked for the role as Emily Mason in Mrs. Black Is Back (1914). Her next film was The Stolen Triumph (1916), after which she returned to the stage, where she seemed more comfortable. She did not make another film until the age of 48, when she appeared in Poor Aubrey (1930). By now the studios knew her to be an outstanding character actress who was adept at filling minor roles. She had only three films under her belt at this time but would appear in more than 100 over the next 20 years. Nine films in 1930 and 13 the following year showed what a talent Clara really was. The role that was to immortalize her, however, was the part as Auntie Em in the classic The Wizard of Oz (1939). Clara continued in films until 1950, when she appeared on the screen for the final time in Key to the City (1950). By this time Clara had been suffering from poor health for years, and retired from the screen. On Palm Sunday, April 15, 1962, Clara went to church in Hollywood, California. When she returned she wrote a note stating she was about to take the greatest adventure of her life. She took an overdose of sleeping tablets and pulled a plastic bag over her head, thus ending her life. She was 81 years old.

  16. #16
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    Poor woman, but she was smart not to keep going on in pain and then the fear of going blind. I don't blame her. I loved her as Auntie EM.

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    Wow, her niece lived in Hayward, CA. I lived there for about about 20 years of my life. And nope, never heard of her!

  18. #18
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    You know, really, she was known for 1 role, that being 'Auntie Em'.
    I know that she had a lengthy career, but honestly the only other role that comes to mind is one from A STOLEN LIFE (the first time BETTE DAVIS played twins).
    KELT' HOME FOR WAYWARD YOUTH-
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  19. #19
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    The plastic bag over the head thing is a common form of suicide for elderly people and esp elderly females.

    Every elderly female suicide I have been on as a matter of fact has been the plastic bag route.

    When Final Exit came out, we found that book at a lot of elderly death scenes. Still do, actually.

  20. #20
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    poor little thing! i can hear her calling 'dorothy where are you...?' in the big looking glass....what an ironic and pathetic ending to a long and honourable life. god bless her. her pain must have been too great to endure!
    pull the string!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by hell0kitty View Post
    poor little thing! i can hear her calling 'dorothy where are you...?' in the big looking glass....what an ironic and pathetic ending to a long and honourable life. god bless her. her pain must have been too great to endure!

    Ongoing pain, be it physcial or emotional can be very taxing; It can wear one's resistance down and quite often will eventually take away from enjoying life.
    KELT' HOME FOR WAYWARD YOUTH-
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    Auntie Em (Wizard of Oz)-Suicide

    Clara Blandick who played Auntie Em left the world with a plastic bag over her head and her mouth full of sleeping pills. She was 81.


    From IMDB:
    Suffering form severe arthritis and impending blindness, Clara fixed her hair, dressed up in her best outfit, placed her favourite photos and memorabilia around her room and sadly left this world by overdosing on sleeping tablets.

    Her suicide note read: "I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen."

  23. #23
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    I love that movie. I can understand having so much pain that you want to end it.
    Auntie Em,Auntie Em, take that bag off of your head. Oh Auntie Em.

  24. #24
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    There's a thread about her already.

    http://www.findadeath.com/forum/show...Clara+Blandick
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  25. #25
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    darn this search engine! good catch john.
    probably operator error. i'll ask for a merge.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny View Post
    darn this search engine! good catch john.
    probably operator error. i'll ask for a merge.

    Merge already requested.
    John Trim On Face Book
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny View Post
    Clara Blandick who played Auntie Em left the world with a plastic bag over her head and her mouth full of sleeping pills. She was 81.


    From IMDB:
    Suffering form severe arthritis and impending blindness, Clara fixed her hair, dressed up in her best outfit, placed her favourite photos and memorabilia around her room and sadly left this world by overdosing on sleeping tablets.

    Her suicide note read: "I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen."
    Poor Lady!
    When pain becomes that bad people are known to end their life.
    She must have been extremely ill to have done this.
    She was great in The Wizard of Oz!

  28. #28
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    JT
    you are just too quick for me.

    poor auntie em. but she was in her 80's at the time and it is something that many of us will face.
    at least she was able to call the shots on her demise. being able to do that must be a comfort.
    like george sanders.

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