Helen Westley

Helen Westley (born Henrietta Remsen Meserole Manney; March 28, 1875 – December 12, 1942) was an American character actress.

Helen Westley
Westley, c. 1915
Henrietta Remsen Meserole Manney

(1875-03-28)March 28, 1875
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedDecember 12, 1942(1942-12-12) (aged 67)
Years active1892-1942
Spouse(s)John Westley (ca. 1900 – 1912; divorced)


She was born Henrietta Remsen Meserole Manney in Brooklyn, New York on March 28, 1875[1], she later went onto become Helen Westley; she was a founding member of the original board of the Theatre Guild[1], and appeared in many of their productions, among them Peer Gynt, and some of their productions of plays by George Bernard Shaw Caesar and Cleopatra, Pygmalion, Heartbreak House, Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and The Apple Cart. She appeared in the original Broadway productions of two plays which, after her death, turned into classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals: Green Grow The Lilacs, which became Oklahoma!, and Liliom, which became Carousel. Westley played Aunt Eller in the former, and Mrs. Muskat (who became Mrs. Mullin in Carousel) in the latter. She also appeared in the original Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude.

Westley played roles, both comic and dramatic, in many films. They included Death Takes a Holiday, All This and Heaven Too, four films opposite child star Shirley Temple (including Dimples and Heidi), the 1934 surprise hit Anne of Green Gables, the 1935 film version of Roberta, and the 1936 film version of Show Boat, in which she replaced Edna May Oliver, when Ms. Oliver declined to repeat her stage role as Parthy Ann Hawks. She also appeared in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm in 1938 with Shirley Temple and Randolph Scott as Aunt Miranda. In 1936, she played in Banjo on My Knee with Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Brennan and Buddy Ebsen.

Family life

Westley married John Westley, an actor on Broadway, on October 31, 1900. The couple separated in 1912. The marriage ended in divorce. The couple had one daughter, named Ethel.[2][3]

After Westley retired from acting in 1942, she later moved into her daughters home in Middlebush, New Jersey, where they both lived together until her death on December 12, 1942, from an undisclosed illness[1]. Upon her death, she was cremated at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey, and on December 17 of that same year, her daughter had her ashes buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, in Section 9, Lot 26 (the same site where Westley's own mother and father were buried).[1]

Partial filmography


  1. Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland via Google Books.
  2. Helen Westley: North American Theatre Online, site available to most colleges and universities for free
  3. "Ethel Westley – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com.

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