Edna May Oliver (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 09, 2022

Edna May Oliver, one of the screen’s grandest troupers, was born Edna May Nutter, on November 9, in Boston. As a girl, she sang in the Oliver Street Humanitarian Church. Upon the death of her father, Edna May was forced to contribute to the support of the family, left almost destitute. Possessing a lovely soprano voice, Edna May found employment singing with an open air opera company, which toured the smaller New England cities. She was then sixteen and her salary was $12 a week. Never strong, the cool night air took its toll and Edna May’s voice was ruined.

Deciding upon a stage career, then frowned upon, Edna May changed her name to Oliver. From third and fourth rate stock and traveling companies, she joined the Lindsey Morrison Stock Company in Lynn, Mass., where she received her first real experience. Four years later, with forty dollars, which she had saved, the actress went to New York.

Long Road to Success

New York rebuffed Edna May at every turn, and, from her debut at sixteen, it was thirty years before she became an acknowledged success. Her progress was slow, but gradually she was given outstanding roles in “Icebound” and “The Cradle Snatchers.” Edna May attained stardom in “Show Boat,” which brought her to the attention of Hollywood.

After a holiday at Palm Beach, Edna May was signed to a motion picture contract and appeared in “Half Shot at Sunrise,” “Hook, Line and Sinker,” “Cracked Nuts,” Bad Girl, “Laugh and Get Rich,” Cimarron, “Fanny Foley Herself,” “Ladies of the Jury,” The Penguin Pool Murder, “The Conquerors,” “Hold ‘em Jail,” “The Great Jasper,” “Ann Vickers” and “Little Women.”

Famous tor “Sniff”

David Copperfield definitely established Edna May as one of the screen’s foremost character actresses. She was placed under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and proved her ability to play any type of character role in “No More Ladies,” A Tale of Two CitiesRomeo and JulietParnell, “My Dear Miss Aldrich,” and Rosalie.

Edna May’s “sniff,” for which she is famous, was discovered quite by accident. Edna May always sniffs after a scene. A camera caught it and, when shown in the projection room, it panicked the audience.

Interested in Music

Always interested in music, Edna May is proud of her outstanding collection of symphonic records. She plays the piano well and is a constant patron of the Hollywood Symphonies Under the Stars, the Philharmonic Orchestra, concerts and ballets. She lives alone, and happily, with her maid and dog, Casper Milquetoast.

Edna May is five feet seven inches tall, weighs 138 pounds, and has ash blonde hair and hazel eyes. Her sense of humor never fails her and she is constantly mimicking those about her. Her secret ambition has been to conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra. She has the talent, but never anticipates getting the opportunity. Her favorite exercises are horseback riding and swimming.

She takes a great interest in astrology, and believes that superstition is a form of ignorance. She likes cats and dogs, and enjoys puttering in the miniature garden of her New England Colonial home. She believes that there are more really great people alive today than ever before in the history of the world. Her hospitality, for which she is famous, is featured by New England boiled dinners and Boston baked beans.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937