Almira Sessions

Almira Sessions (September 16, 1888 August 3, 1974) was an American character actress of stage, screen and television. Born in Washington, D.C., her career took her through all the acting mediums of the 20th century. She appeared in over 500 films and television shows.[1] She worked into her 80s, finally retiring shortly before her death in 1974 in Los Angeles.

Almira Sessions
Born(1888-09-16)September 16, 1888
Washington, D.C., United States
DiedAugust 3, 1974(1974-08-03) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California, United States
OccupationActress
Years active1909–1972

Early life and career

Sessions was born into a very well-known family in Washington D.C. on September 16, 1888.[1] A debutante, she followed her coming out party with her introduction into the acting profession, appearing in a 1909 performance of the comic operetta The Sultan of Sulu by George Ade and Nathaniel D. Mann.[1][2] Her early career was spent performing in cabarets before she moved to New York City, where she began performing on the stage and on Bob Hope's radio show.[2] During the 1930s she appeared in many stage productions, including several Broadway productions.[3]

Film and television

While appearing on the stage in New York during the 1930s, Sessions made her film debut in Edward Sloman's 1932 film Wayward.[4] While this marked her debut in films, it was not the true beginning to her career in film. Wayward was filmed in New York at the Paramount Publix studios. Sessions did not begin to appear regularly in feature films until eight years later, in 1940, with her appearance in Norman Taurog's Little Nellie Kelly, starring Judy Garland.[5] During the 1930s she would occasionally appear in film shorts, such as 1935's Two Boobs in a Balloon, starring Edgar Bergen.[6]

During her film career, which spanned four decades from the 1940s to the 1970s, she appeared in numerous notable films, including: Preston Sturges's Sullivan's Travels (1942), starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake;[7][8] the William Wellman drama, The Ox-Bow Incident, starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, and Anthony Quinn;[9] her performance as Hattie the cook in the 1943 comedy, My Kingdom for a Cook, starring Charles Coburn, garnered her notice for her comedic talent;[10] another Preston Sturges film, the 1944 comedy The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, with Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton;[11] the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical State Fair (1945);[12] the Cole Porter biopic, Night and Day (1946), starring Cary Grant and Alexis Smith;[13] Monsieur Verdoux, Charlie Chaplin's 1947 comedy-drama in which she had one of her infrequent featured roles;[14] 1946 saw her dramatic performance in the film noir Fear highlighted in reviews;[15] the iconic It's a Wonderful Life (1947), directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart;[16] the Christmas classic The Bishop's Wife (1948), which stars Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven and was directed by Henry Koster;[17] the period comedy Take Me Out to the Ball Game, starring Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Esther Williams;[18] and King Vidor's 1949 production of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal.[19]

The 1950s would see her continue appearing in numerous films, including such notable pictures as the Henry Koster classic comedy Harvey (1950), starring James Stewart;[20] the film version of Damon Runyon's short story The Lemon Drop Kid, starring Bob Hope;[21] 1955's Rebel Without a Cause (1955), starring James Dean and Natalie Wood;[22] Michael Curtiz's 1956 crime drama The Scarlet Hour;[23] and Elvis Presley's third film, Loving You (1957).[24] The 1950s would see Sessions enter the new medium of television. Beginning with The Adventures of Kit Carson, she had guest appearances in dozens of television shows during the decade. Some of the shows she appeared in were: Adventures of Superman, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Hopalong Cassidy, Lassie, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, and Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. In 1957 Sessions appeared as Mrs. Thatcher in the TV western Cheyenne in the episode titled "The Iron Trail."

Sessions's career slowed down in the 1960s, but she continued to appear both in films and on television. Her film credits during this decade included the film adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play Summer and Smoke (1961), starring Laurence Harvey, Geraldine Page, and Rita Moreno;[25] the 1963 comedy Under the Yum Yum Tree, with Jack Lemon, Carol Lynley, Dean Jones, and Edie Adams;[26] the 1968 thriller, The Boston Strangler, starring Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda;[27] and Roman Polanski's horror classic, Rosemary's Baby, starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, and Ruth Gordon.[28] Her television credits during the 1960s included: The Donna Reed Show, The Munsters, F Troop, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. While her credits in the 1970s were limited as her career wound down, the films and television shows in which she appeared well known. Her lone film credit was in the classic horror film Willard (1971),[29] and her television credits included guest appearances on Marcus Welby, M.D., Night Gallery, and Love, American Style.

Sessions died on August 3, 1974, in Los Angeles, California. She is interred in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.[30]

Filmography

(Per AFI database)[31]

References

  1. "Almira Sessions, Biography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  2. "Almira Sessions, biography". AllMovie. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  3. "Almira Sessions, performer". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  4. "Wayward". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  5. "Little Nellie Kelly". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  6. "Reviews of the New Films: Sullivan's Travels". The Film Daily. December 5, 1941. p. 5. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  7. "Sullivan's Travels". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  8. "Short Shots From Eastern Studios". The Film Daily. September 4, 1934. p. 7. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  9. "The Ox-Bow Incident". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  10. "Reviews of the New Films: My Kingdom for a Cook". The Film Daily. October 27, 1943. p. 11. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  11. "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  12. "State Fair". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  13. "Night and Day". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  14. "Monsieur Verdoux". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  15. "Film Daily Reviews of the New Films: Fear". The Film Daily. January 4, 1946. p. 8. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  16. "It's a Wonderful Life". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  17. "The Bishop's Wife". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  18. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  19. "The Fountainhead". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  20. "Harvey". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  21. "The Lemon Drop Kid". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  22. "Rebel Without a Cause". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  23. "The Scarlet Hour". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  24. "Loving You". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  25. "Summer and Smoke". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  26. "Under the Yum Yum Tree". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  27. "The Boston Strangler". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  28. "Rosemary's Baby". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  29. "Willard". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  30. "Almira Sessions". Find a Grave. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  31. "Almira Sessions". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
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