Tall, melancholy-looking character lead of exceptional versatility. MacMahon was moving in dramatic roles and, as a deft comedienne, excelled at playing wisecracking secretaries in "Five Star Final" (...
Final stage role in New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Trelawny of the Wells"
Film debut, "Five Star Final"
TV debut, "The Town" on "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse"
Broadway debut in "The Mirage"
First stage success in revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Beyond the Horizon"
Stage debut in "The Madras House" at the Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC
Moved to Brooklyn with her family
Tall, melancholy-looking character lead of exceptional versatility. MacMahon was moving in dramatic roles and, as a deft comedienne, excelled at playing wisecracking secretaries in "Five Star Final" (1931) and "The Mouthpiece" (1932). Immediately after graduating from Barnard College in 1920, she made her New York stage debut in "The Madras House" and her performance in the 1926 revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Beyond the Horizon", was acclaimed by Noel Coward as "astonishing, moving and beautiful". Although MacMahon gave memorable performances as the forgotten first wife in "Silver Dollar" (1932) and won an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn's Chinese mother in "Dragon Seed" (1944), she is best remembered for playing sassy, snappy working women such as the fraudulent "voice-culture" teacher in George S. Kaufman's and Moss Hart's Hollywood spoof "Once in a Lifetime" (1932) and as the sarcastic, unemployed comedienne in "Gold Diggers of 1933".
After reprising her stage role as the grandmother in "All the Way Home", the 1964 film version of James Agee's memoir "A Death in the Family", MacMahon retired from film and returned to the stage, joining the Lincoln Center Repertory company in the 1960s and 70s.
editor-in-chief of Munsey's Magazine
became a stage actor at the age of 53; died in 1984, three weeks before her 107 birthday
married in 1928; died in 1975; helped design Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, Temple Emmanuel in NYC, and helped plan Radburn, New Jersey
"Aline MacMahon had a face like a tragic mask--heavy-lidded eyes under arched, thick brows, full lips. Perhaps that was why she was so unexpected as a comedienne, and why she was so good at it."--John Springer ("They Had Faces Then" 1974)
She is chairwoman, Equity Library Theater (1950), organized productions for community theaters.