Sarah Padden

Sarah Padden (October 16, 1881 England December 4, 1967 Los Angeles, California) was a theatre and film character actress. She performed on stage in the early 20th century.[1] She is noted for her expressive voice and for her psychological studies of the characters she portrayed. Her finest single-act performance was in The Clod, a stage production in which she played an uneducated woman who lived on a farm during the American Civil War.[2][3]

Sarah Padden
(left to right): George Cleveland, Jean Parker, Sarah Padden, and Marjorie Main, in Romance of the Limberlost
Sarah Ann Padden

(1881-10-16)October 16, 1881
DiedDecember 4, 1967(1967-12-04) (aged 86)
OccupationFilm and stage actress
Years active1926-1958
Spouse(s)George Clarence Sackett (1880-1976)

Early life

The daughter of an Irish immigrant father, Michael Padden, and an English immigrant mother, the future actress took part in recitations in the Catholic Church school she attended in Chicago, where her fellow students enjoyed her talent as a mimic. Her parents wanted her to enter a convent, but a liberal-minded priest, Father Dorney, encouraged her ambition to become an actress. He assisted her in obtaining her first stage role, a theatrical featuring Otis Skinner.[1] The Paddens emigrated to the United States on the S/S Ohio from England passing through the Port of Philadelphia in 1889.

Her life is saved

For many years, Padden lived in the vicinity of the Broad River, Gaston, South Carolina. On one occasion she ventured onto a dam, reaching its center just as the noon whistle blew near the power station. Frightened, she lost her balance and fell over, but she managed to cling to a steel eyebolt. She was rescued by an African American servant of the power company superintendent. Afterwards Padden's parents hired the man and took him to New York City, where he died at age 108.[4]

Theatrical career

Padden was a featured player on the Orpheum Circuit, Inc..[5] She had a role in His Grace de Grammont, a romantic comedy by Clyde Fitch which came to the Park Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts in September 1905. The production starred Skinner and was based on the life of a chevalier in the court of Charles II.[6] Padden appeared again with Skinner in a four-act play produced by Charles Frohman, The Honor of the Family, by Emile Fabre, which was presented in New Rochelle, New York in September 1907.[7]

Another of her theatrical parts was in Hell-Bent Fer Heaven, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Hatcher Hughes. It was performed at the Wilkes Orange Grove Theater (Majestic Theater), 845 South Broadway (Los Angeles),[8] in November 1925.[4]


Padden was also an active screen actress from 1926 to 1958, appearing in 178 films and TV shows.

In 1938, she played "Ma" Thayer in MGM's Rich Man, Poor Girl, directed by Reinhold Schunzel and starring Robert Young, Ruth Hussey, and Lana Turner. Bill Harrison (Robert Young) a wealthy young businessman moves in with secretary girlfriend Joan Thayer's (Ruth Hussey) eccentric family to convince her they can make their marriage work.

In 1941, she played wealthy spinster Aunt Cassandra ("Cassie") Hildegarde Denham in Murder by Invitation, directed by Phil Rosen and starring Wallace Ford and Marian Marsh. In this "closed room" murder comedy, after they unsuccessfully attempt to have her declared legally insane to gain control of her fortune, her nephews and nieces are invited to a week's visit at her mansion where they are murdered one by one.

Avid golfer

She was athletic, taking part in skating, tennis, and swimming.[5] She played 18 to 36 holes of golf daily. In 1919. she was considered one of the best female golfers in the United States.[9] In Los Angeles, she was fond of playing the municipal links at Griffith Park.[5]

Selected filmography


  1. Sarah Padden's Start, New York Times, December 17, 1916, pg. III4.
  2. Fine Bill At Hillstreet, Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1926, pg. A11.
  3. Sarah Padden at database
  4. Star Describes How Aged Negro Saved Her Life, Los Angeles Times, November 22, 1925, pg. C29.
  5. Sarah Padden A Golf Enthusiast, Los Angeles Times, February 5, 1919, pg. I5.
  6. New Fitch Play In Boston, New York Times, September 15, 1905, pg. 5.
  7. Amusement Notes, New York Times, September 27, 1907, pg. 9.
  8. Cinema Treasures, Majestic Theatre,
  9. Sarah Padden In Entirely New Role, Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1919, pg. III9.
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