Beecher in 1916
October 21, 1884
Jefferson City, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||August 6, 1955 (aged 70)|
Washington, Connecticut, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Harry R. Guggenheimer (?-1919) (divorced)|
Richard H. Hoffman (?-1935) (divorced)
|Children||1 (a son, with Hoffman)|
Janet Beecher (born Janet Meysenberg; October 21, 1884 – August 6, 1955) was an American stage and screen actress.
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Von Meysenburg, Beecher was born in Jefferson City, Missouri. Her sister was actress Olive Wyndham. The sisters were related to Harriet Beecher Stowe on their mother's side.
Her father's work as a vice-consul for Germany led to her growing up in Chicago.
Beecher was a supporting player and lead on the Broadway stage between the 1900s and 1940s. Her Broadway debut came in The Education of Mr. Pipp (1905). Her final Broadway play was The Late George Apley (1944). Other notable plays she appeared in included The Lottery Man (1909), The Concert (1910), The Purple Road (1913), Fair and Warmer (1915), The Woman in Room 13 (1919), Call the Doctor (1920), A Bill of Divorcement (1921), The Love Child (1922), A Kiss in a Taxi (1925), and Courage (1928).
Between 1915 and 1943, she appeared in about motion pictures. She remains perhaps best-remembered as a character actress during Hollywood's golden age, often seen in roles as "firm but compassionate matriarchs". She was known for her roles as Ginger Rogers' mother in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), Tyrone Power's mother in the adventure film The Mark of Zorro (1940), and Henry Fonda's mother in Preston Sturges' screwball comedy The Lady Eve (1941). She retired from film business in 1943, but managed to play a role in the television series Lux Video Theatre in 1952.
"Automatic writing" controversy
Automatic writing played a pivotal role in Beecher's divorce from Hoffman. Beecher's mother, Mrs. Oral J. Wyndham, produced messages that she said were sent by spirits, but which Hoffman said were created by Wyndham's subconscious mind. After six years of marriage, both Beecher and Hoffman filed suit for separation, based on both the contentious messages and a disagreement about religion's influence in raising their son. Beecher, her sister, and their mother were members of the Unity Scientific Christianity Association. The judge who granted the divorce wrote, "both the practice of spirit writing and the content of the messages undoubtedly affected the family society. The plaintiff was frankly hostile to the practice, while some of the writings criticized his character and behavior in unmistakable terms."
On August 7, 1955, Beecher died at her sister's home in Washington, Connecticut, at age 70.
|1915||Fine Feathers||Jane Reynolds|
|1933||Gallant Lady||Maria Sherwood|
|1934||The Last Gentleman||Helen Barr|
|1934||The President Vanishes||Mrs. Mary Stanley|
|1934||The Mighty Barnum||Nancy Barnum|
|1935||Let's Live Tonight||Mrs. Routledge|
|1935||So Red the Rose||Sally Bedford|
|1935||Village Tale||Amy Somerville|
|1935||The Dark Angel||Mrs. Shannon|
|1936||Love Before Breakfast||Mrs. Colby|
|1936||I'd Give My Life||Governor's wife|
|1936||The Longest Night||Mrs. Briggs, Carl's Mother|
|1937||The Good Old Soak||Matilda Hawley|
|1937||The Thirteenth Chair||Lady Crosby|
|1937||Between Two Women||Miss Pringle|
|1937||Big City||Sophie Sloane|
|1937||My Dear Miss Aldrich||Mrs. Sinclair|
|1937||Beg, Borrow or Steal||Mrs. Agatha Steward|
|1938||Judge Hardy's Children||Miss Budge, Suzanne's Tutor|
|1938||Yellow Jack||Miss Macdade|
|1938||Woman Against Woman||Mrs. Holland|
|1938||Say It in French||Mrs. Carrington|
|1939||I Was a Convict||Mrs. Martha Harrison|
|1939||The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle||Mrs. Foote|
|1939||Man of Conquest||Mrs. Sarah Lea|
|1939||Career||Mrs. Amy Cruthers|
|1939||Laugh It Off||Mary Carter|
|1939||Slightly Honorable||Mrs. Cushing|
|1940||All This, and Heaven Too||Miss Haines|
|1940||The Mark of Zorro||Senora Isabella Vega|
|1940||Bitter Sweet||Lady Daventry|
|1941||The Lady Eve||Mrs. Pike|
|1941||The Man Who Lost Himself||Mrs. Milford|
|1941||Men of Boys Town||Spokeswoman||(scenes deleted)|
|1941||West Point Widow||Mrs. Graves|
|1941||For Beauty's Sake||Miss Merton|
|1941||A Very Young Lady||Miss Steele|
|1941||The Parson of Panamint||Mrs. Tweedy|
|1942||A Tragedy at Midnight||Third Mrs. Charles Miller||Uncredited|
|1942||Reap the Wild Wind||Mrs. Mottram|
|1942||Men of Texas||Mrs. Sam Houston|
|1942||Hi, Neighbor||Hattie Greenfield|
|1942||Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch||Mrs. Olcott|
|1942||Silver Queen||Mrs. Laura Forsythe|
|1943||Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour||Mrs. Eloise Lowry||Uncredited|
|1952||Lux Video Theatre||Kate Walburn||1 episode, (final appearance)|
- "Janet Beecher, Actress, Passes". Democrat and Chronicle. New York, Rochester. Associated Press. August 8, 1955. p. 9. Retrieved February 26, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- Fisher, James; Londré, Felicia Hardison (2009). The A to Z of American Theater: Modernism. Scarecrow Press. p. 52. ISBN 9780810870475. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "How Spooks Wrecked the Doctor-Actress Threesome". Hamilton Evening Journal. Ohio, Hamilton. July 10, 1926. p. 20. Retrieved February 25, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- Tildesley, Alice L. (June 30, 1935). "How to keep from growing old". The Nebraska State Journal. Nebraska, Lincoln. p. 33. Retrieved February 26, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- Hischak, Thomas S. (2003). Enter the Players: New York Stage Actors in the Twentieth Century. Scarecrow Press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 9780810847613. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "("Janet Beecher" search results)". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 25 February 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- (7 August 1955). Janet Beecher, Actress is Dead - Star of Stage aad' Screen Played Her Last Role in 'The Late George Apley', The New York Times (paywll)
- Janet Beecher profile, Allmovie.com; accessed April 28, 2017.
- Obituary Billboard magazine, August 20, 1955; mentions surviving family, her sister Olive Wyndham and son Richard
- Who Was Who in the Theatre 1912-1976; originally published annually by John Parker, 1976 editions by Gale Research
- Silent Film Necrology 2nd edit. by Eugene M. Vazanno c. 2001
- Janet Beecher profile, alexanderstreet.com; accessed April 28, 2017.
- "Janet Beecher, Ex-Actress, Dies at 70". The Courier-Journal. Kentucky, Louisville. Associated Press. August 8, 1955. p. 8. Retrieved February 25, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.