Mildred Natwick

Mildred Natwick (June 19, 1905 – October 25, 1994) was an American stage, film and television actress. In 1967, she earned an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in Barefoot in the Park. She was nominated for two Tony Awards in 1957 and 1972 and won a Primetime Emmy Award for her work in the miniseries The Snoop Sisters, opposite Helen Hayes.[1]

Mildred Natwick
Natwick in 1947
Born(1905-06-19)June 19, 1905
DiedOctober 25, 1994(1994-10-25) (aged 89)
Resting placeLorraine Park Cemetery
EducationBryn Mawr School
Alma materBennett College
Years active19321988

Early life

Natwick was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Joseph and Mildred Marion Natwick (née Dawes).[2] Her grandfather, Ole Natwick, was one of the earliest Norwegian immigrants to the United States, arriving in Wisconsin in 1847.[3] Her first cousin was animator and cartoonist Myron "Grim" Natwick.[4]

She attended the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore and later graduated from Bennett College.[1]


Natwick began performing on the stage at age 21 with "The Vagabonds", a non-professional theatre group in Baltimore. She soon joined the University Players on Cape Cod. Natwick made her Broadway debut in 1932 playing Mrs. Noble in Frank McGrath’s play Carry Nation, about the famous temperance crusader Carrie Nation. Throughout the 1930s she starred in a number of plays, frequently collaborating with friend and actor-director-playwright Joshua Logan.[5] On Broadway, she played "Prossy" in Katharine Cornell's production of Candida. She made her film debut in John Ford's The Long Voyage Home as a Cockney slattern, and portrayed the landlady in The Enchanted Cottage (1945).

Natwick is remembered for small but memorable roles in several John Ford film classics, including 3 Godfathers (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), and The Quiet Man (1952). She played Miss Ivy Gravely, in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955), and a sorceress in The Court Jester (1956).

She continued to appear onstage, and made regular guest appearances in television series. She was twice nominated for Tony Awards: in 1957 for The Waltz of the Toreadors, the same year she also starred in Tammy and the Bachelor with Debbie Reynolds and Leslie Nielsen [6] and in 1972 for the musical 70 Girls 70. She returned to film in Barefoot in the Park (1967) as the mother of the character played by Jane Fonda. The role earned Natwick her only Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting actress.[5] One of Natwick's memorable roles was in The House Without a Christmas Tree (1972), which starred Jason Robards and Lisa Lucas. The program's success spawned three sequels: The Thanksgiving Treasure, The Easter Promise, and Addie and The King of Hearts.

In 1971, Natwick co-starred with Helen Hayes in the ABC Movie of the Week, Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate, in which their characters worked together as amateur sleuths. The success of that telefilm resulted in a similar team-up the next year, portraying two mystery-writing and solving sisters; this spawned the 1973-74 series The Snoop Sisters, which was part of The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie. For her performance, Natwick won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.[2] In 1981, Natwick joined Hayes as the first members of the Board of Advisors to the Riverside Shakespeare Company.[7] Both attended and supported several fund raisers for that off-Broadway theatre company.[8]

She guest-starred on such television series as McMillan & Wife, Family, Alice, The Love Boat, Hawaii Five-O, The Bob Newhart Show, and Murder, She Wrote. She made her final film appearance at the age of 83 in the 1988 historical drama Dangerous Liaisons.[9]

Personal life

Natwick, who never married or had children, lived in a duplex on Park Avenue in Manhattan for the majority of her life. She was a devout Christian Scientist.[10] A Republican, she supported the run of Dwight Eisenhower during the 1952 presidential election.[11]


On October 25, 1994, Natwick died of cancer at her home in Manhattan at the age of 89.[2][9] She is interred at Lorraine Park Cemetery in Baltimore.[9]

Broadway credits

Date Production Role Notes
October 29 – November 1932 Carry Nation Mrs. Noble
September 27 – October 1933 Amourette Drusilla Thorpe
October 24 – November 1933 Spring in Autumn Pura
February 1 – May 1934 The Wind and the Rain Mrs. McFie
September 25, 1934 – February 1935 The Distaff Side Mrs. Venables
November 7 – November 1935 Mrs. Venables May Beringer
February 17, 1936 – June 1936 End of Summer Mrs. Wyle
September 1 – November 1, 1936 Love from a Stranger Ethel
March 10 – May 8, 1937 Candida Miss Proserpine Garnett
September 29, 1937 – April 1938 The Star-Wagon Mrs. Rutledge
September 19 – October 1938 Missouri Legend The Widow Weeks
February 9 – May 27, 1939 Stars In Your Eyes Bess
December 27–30, 1939 Christmas Eve Mother McGlory
January 2–4, 1941 The Lady Who Came to Stay Milly
November 5, 1941 – June 5, 1943 Blithe Spirit Madame Arcati
April 27 – May 31, 1942 Candida Miss Proserpine Garnett Revival
September 6 – October 2, 1943 Blithe Spirit Madame Arcati
April 3 – May 2, 1946 Candida Miss Proserpine Garnett Revival
October 26, 1946 – January 4, 1947 The Playboy of the Western World Widow Quin
March 27 – April 26, 1952 The Grass Harp Dolly Talbo
January 17 – May 11, 1957 The Waltz of the Toreadors Mme. St. Pé Nominated: Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play
February 20–22, 1958 The Day the Money Stopped Kathie Morrow
April 30 – May 31, 1958 The Firstborn Miriam
March 2–19, 1960 The Good Soup Marie-Paule and Armand's Mother, Angele
December 14, 1960 – May 27, 1961 Critic's Choice Charlotte Orr
October 23, 1963 - June 25, 1967 Barefoot in the Park Mrs. Banks
November 27 – December 27, 1969 Our Town Mrs. Gibbs
April 15 – May 15, 1971 70, Girls, 70 Ida Dodd Nominated: Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical
March 29 – November 24, 1979 Bedroom Farce Delia Replacement

Selected filmography


  1. "Natwick never lost her love for the stage". The Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. October 28, 1994. p. D4. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  2. Flint, Peter B. (October 26, 1994). "Mildred Natwick, 89, Actress Who Excelled at Eccentricity". The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  3. Jones, George O.; McVean, Norman S. (1923). History of Wood County, Wisconsin. 1. Brookhaven Press. p. 362.
  4. Meuel, David (2014). Women in the Films of John Ford. McFarland. p. 83. ISBN 0-786-47789-X.
  5. "Mildred Natwick".
  7. "Helen Hayes (1900-1993)". The Daily Bulletin. Frederick, Maryland: Maryland School for the Deaf. October 10, 2013. p. 1.
  8. Nemy, Enid (December 4, 1981). "The Evening Hours". The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  9. Nissen 2007, p. 132.
  10. Nissen 2007, p. 131.
  11. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 34, Ideal She lived in Moorefield, WV on Natwick Circle- (which was named after her family)Publishers
  • Nissen, Axel (2007). Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties. McFarland. ISBN 0-786-42746-9.
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