Esther Dale

Esther Dale (November 10, 1885 – July 23, 1961) was an American actress, best known perhaps for her role as Aunt Genevieve in the 1935 Shirley Temple vehicle, Curly Top.[1]

Esther Dale
Born(1885-11-10)November 10, 1885
DiedJuly 23, 1961(1961-07-23) (aged 75)
Queen of Angels Hospital, Hollywood, California, U.S.
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1932–1961 (acting)
Spouse(s)Arthur Beckhard
(m. 19??; died 1961)

Early years

Dale was born in Beaufort, South Carolina. She attended Leland and Gray Seminary in Townshend, Vermont. In Berlin, Germany, she studied music and enjoyed a successful career as a singer of lieder on the concert stage.[2] Her singing career included appearances with the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.[3]

At one point, Dale was head of Smith College's vocal department.[2]


In America, Dale transferred to the acting stage and cultivated a career as an actress in summer stock. She starred in Carrie Nation on Broadway in 1933. Her other Broadway credits include Harvest of Years (1947), And Be My Love (1944), and Another Language (1932).[4]


Dale's first film was Crime Without Passion (1934) in an uncredited role. She was a familiar face in films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, frequently playing stern, authoritarian characters such as prison matrons and head nurses, although she was equally adept at playing grande dames and ladies of the aristocracy.


Dale played many roles in television over the years. In the 1958-1959 season of The Donna Reed Show, Dale played a job-seeking housekeeper who is frightened from the Stone home by Jeff Stone's pet mouse, and she appeared in the 1957 Maverick episode "According to Hoyle" opposite James Garner.


Dale died in the summer of 1961 following surgery in Queen of Angels Hospital in Hollywood. She had been married to writer and director Arthur J. Beckhard, who predeceased her by four months.[5]

Partial filmography


  1. "Esther Dale, Stage Star, Signs Screen Contract". Schenectady Gazette. December 19, 1934.
  2. Nissen, Axel (2012). Mothers, Mammies and Old Maids: Twenty-Five Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood. McFarland. pp. 49–55. ISBN 9780786490455. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  3. Harrison, Paul (January 19, 1937). "Screen Chats". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. p. 9. Retrieved March 29, 2017 via
  4. "("Esther Dale" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  5. "Esther Dale, Actress, Dies in Hospital". Independent. California, Long Beach. Associated Press. July 24, 1961. p. 10. Retrieved March 29, 2017 via
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