Tugboat Annie

Tugboat Annie is a 1933 American pre-Code film directed by Mervyn LeRoy, written by Norman Reilly Raine and Zelda Sears, and starring Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery as a comically quarrelsome middle-aged couple who operate a tugboat. Dressler and Beery were MGM's most popular screen team at that time, having recently made the bittersweet Min and Bill (1930) together, for which Dressler won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Tugboat Annie
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMervyn LeRoy
Produced byIrving Thalberg (uncredited)
Written byNorman Reilly Raine
Zelda Sears
Eve Greene
StarringMarie Dressler
Wallace Beery
Robert Young
Maureen O'Sullivan
Music byPaul Marquardt (uncredited)
CinematographyGregg Toland
Edited byBlanche Sewell
Distributed byMGM
Release date
August 4, 1933
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.6 million (worldwide rentals)[1]

The boisterous Tugboat Annie character first appeared in a series of stories in the Saturday Evening Post written by the author Norman Reilly Raine which were supposedly based on the life of Thea Foss of Tacoma, Washington.[2] There is also a theory that her character is loosely based on Kate A. Sutton, secretary and dispatcher for the Providence Steamboat Company during the 1920s.[3]

Tugboat Annie also features Robert Young and Maureen O'Sullivan as the requisite pair of young lovers. Captain Clarence Howden piloted Annie's tugboat "Narcissus" (real name Wallowa), which was owned by Foss Tug and Barge of Tacoma and had been leased to MGM for the movie. Howden's son Richard Howden is seen rolling rope during the credits.

Filmed in Seattle, Washington, Tugboat Annie used local residents as extras, including then-mayor John F. Dore.[4] The tugboat used in the film, renamed Arthur Foss in 1934, is the oldest wooden tugboat afloat in the world and remains preserved by Northwest Seaport in Seattle.[5]



The film earned $1,917,000 in rentals in the United States and Canada and $655,000 overseas for a total of $2,572,000[1] and made a profit of $1.1 million.[6]


A sequel called Tugboat Annie Sails Again was released in 1940, starring Marjorie Rambeau, Alan Hale, Jane Wyman, and Ronald Reagan, and another called Captain Tugboat Annie in 1945 starring Jane Darwell and Edgar Kennedy. Many of the publicity shots for the former were taken aboard the Arthur Foss, which had starred as Annie's "Narcissus" in the original film.

A Canadian-filmed television series appeared in 1957, The Adventures of Tugboat Annie, starring Minerva Urecal.

References in other media


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles, California: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Tugboat Annie Archived 2008-06-06 at the Wayback Machine, everythingnorwegian.everythingscandinavian.com; accessed August 4, 2015.
  3. Tugboat Annie, marinersmuseum.org; accessed August 4, 2015.
  4. Carter, Glen (May 16, 1981). "Tugboat gets top billing". The Seattle Times. p. B11.
  5. Burrows, Alyssa (January 24, 2002). "Filmography in Seattle". HistoryLink. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  6. Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 191
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