Distinguished stage actress who was a member of the innovative, politically committed Group Theater in the 1930s and played character roles in Hollywood films of the 40s. Nelson joined the Group Theat...
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
|The Haunting Passion||Actor||Judith Granville||7|
|Three Women||1976||Actor||Mrs. Rose||19767|
|The Late Show||1976||Actor||Mrs Schmidt||19767|
|A Tree Grows in Brooklyn||1945||Actor||Miss McDonough||19457|
|None Shall Escape||1943||Actor||n/a||19437|
|A Christmas Without Snow||Actor||Inez||7|
|Sea of Grass||1947||Actor||Selena Hall||19477|
|Lethal Innocence||Actor||Bernice Hope||7|
|Broadway Dreamers: The Legacy of the Group Theatre||1988 1987 - 1988||Actor||n/a||19887|
|A Wedding||1977||Actor||Aunt Beatrice Sloan Cory||19777|
|Played the taxi driver's wife in the Group Theater's landmark production of Clifford Odets' "Waiting for Lefty"|
|Began performing onstage in the early 1920s|
|Joined Tyrone Guthrie's stage repertory company along with husband John Cromwell in the early 1960s|
|Returned to feature films to play roles in "The Late Show" and "Three Women"|
|Grew up travelling with her mother on the vaudeville circuit|
|Acted in last film in nearly three decades, "Arch of Triumph"|
|Film debut, "North Star"|
|Sent to Los Angeles to study at a Roman Catholic school in an attempt by her mother to discourage stage career; nonetheless received encouragement from a nun who saw her acting talent|
|Turned down the role of Willy Loman's wife in the original stage version of Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman"|
|Made last stage appearance in the cast of "Uncle Vanya" in New York|
|Was a charter member of New York City's Group Theater in the 1930s|
|Last film, "Awakenings"|
Nelson joined the Group Theater at its inception and shared in its popular and critical triumph with Clifford Odets' short play, "Waiting for Lefty" (1935). Portraying the wife of a cab driver moving toward union activism, Nelson established a style that would endure through the next decade: she brought a similar plaintive persona and subdued, understated performance style to her Hollywood films of the 40s, mostly playing supportive, working-class women in films like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945), "Humoresque" (1946), "Till the End of Time" (1946) and "Mother Wore Tights" (1947).
When her second husband, director John Cromwell, was blacklisted in the early 50s on suspicion of being a member of the Communist party, Nelson turned down a role in "Death of a Salesman" that would have required her to leave him in Los Angeles to return to the New York stage. Later years saw her primarily onstage, notably in the successful 1966 revival of "The Skin of Our Teeth", but she did return to screen work occasionally, including portraying Robert De Niro's mother in "Awakenings" (1990).
|William Challee||Husband||divorced; supporting actor in over 20 films from the 1940s through the 70s, including "Destination Tokyo" (1943), "Force of Evil" (1948), and "Five Easy Pieces" (1970); acted with Nelson in "Sea of Grass" (1947)|
|John Cromwell||Husband||married c. 1946 until his death in 1979; born December 23, 1888; directed such films as "Of Human Bondage" (1934), "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1937), "Algiers" (1938), "Since You Went Away" (1944), "The Enchanted Cottage" (1945) and "Caged" (1950); acted alongside Nelson late in life in two Robert Altman films, "Three Women" (1977) and "A Wedding" (1978)|
|James Cromwell||Step-Son||father John Cromwell|
|Eva Mudge||Mother||noted quick-change artist|
|Gay Samuelson||Sister||survived her|
|Lynda Stack||Sister||survived her|
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