Frieda Inescort

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Frieda Inescort
Nume la naștere Frieda Wrightman
Născut(ă) 29 iunie 1901
Edinburgh, Marea Britanie
Decedat(ă) 26 februarie 1976
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
Ani de activitate 1935–1961
Căsătorit(ă) cu Ben Ray Redman (1926-1961)
Roluri importante Mândrie și prejudecată - Caroline Bingley
Hay Fever - Sorel Bliss

Frieda Inescort (n. 29 iunie 1901, Edinburgh, Marea Britanie - d. 26 februarie 1976, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California) a fost o actriță scoțiană cunoscută pentru rolul lui Caroline Bingley din filmul Mândrie și prejudecată și Sorel Bliss în piesa Hay Fever.

Biografie[modificare | modificare sursă]

Frieda Inescort, născută la Edinburgh, Scoția în 29 iunie 1901, la casa bunicii paterne, este fiica lui John „Jock” Wrightman, un scoțian, și a soției sale, actrița Elaine Inescort, de etnie germana si poloneza.

În 1904, mama Friedei, în vârstă de 27 de ani, îsi abandonează soțul pentru a-și continua cariera pe scena londoneză. Cum Frieda era un responsabilitate nedorită, Elaine o lasă cu propria familie, în Surrey. Doi ani mai târziu, Frieda pleacă să trăiască cu o familie în Rhyl, Wales. Ulterior, mama ei o înscrie la o școală cu internat în Essex. Încăpățânată și dificilă, aceasta este la scurt timp exmatriculată pentru probleme de purtare.

În vara lui 1910 Elaine încearcă să se reconcilieze cu soțul ei. După o scurtă vizită la Londra cu părinții ei, Frieda este trimisă la altă școală, Stratmore College, în Croydon. În 1911, Jock Wrightman divorțează legal de Elaine pe motiv de adulter. Eliberată, Elaine pleacă în Statele Unite, acompaniata de Frieda, pentru a-și continua cariera în New York. Aceasta intră la școala Holy Rosary din Amityville, Long Island. Cum Elaine nu primește un rol pe Broadway, cele două se întorc la Londra și Frieda este trimisă la o școală religioasă.

In ciuda inceperii Primului Razboi Mondial, Elaine pleaca din nou in America. Frieda ramane la Londra si termina scoala in 1917, la 16 ani. Primele slujbe alese au fost modeste. In 1921 a asistat la o piesa pe Broadway, The Dover Road. In culise a intalnit o veche cunostinta, actrita Molly Pearson, care i-a sugerat o cariera pe scena, deoarece actritele britanice erau foarte rar intalnite. Incurajata, aceasta i-a scris producatorului Winthrop Ames, o cunostinta de-a mamei ei.

Carieră[modificare | modificare sursă]

Acesta a chemat-o la un interviu si a fost imediat impresionat de talentul acesteia. Primul rol a fost unul minor in pies "The Truth About Blayd’s" din 1922, cu O. P. Heggie si Alexandra Carlisle in rolurile principale. Frieda a repetat in paralel cu slujba ei de zi, la ziarul Putnam's. Piesa a avut un succes zguduitor si aceasta s-a facut imediat remarcata. Deranjata de reusita fiicei acesteia, Elaine taie relatiile cu fiica ei.

Observand-o pe Frieda pe scena, Philip Barry ii ofera rolul principal in You and I, care devine de asemenea un succes, lansând cariera tinerei actrițe. Aceasta continuă să apară în piese precum „Love in the Mist”, „Windows”, „Mozart” și huge hit in Noel Coward’s 1925 production of Hay Fever, which co-starred Laura Hope Crews and Gavin Muir. She had given up her job at Putnam’s, but while still there had met Ben Ray Redman. He had been appointed assistant to the editor in 1923. Ben, born in Brooklyn, was 27 years old and highly educated. The couple fell in love, and on February 3, 1926, were married. Shortly thereafter, Redman secured the position of literary critic with the New York Herald Tribune. Frieda also applied for and became an American citizen.

In 1927 she had another Broadway hit, this time opposite Leslie Howard in Escape. During the 1928-29 season she toured with George Arliss, playing Portia to his Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. 1930 saw her with the Theater Guild for revivals of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and Major Barbara. In 1931 she had another Broadway success in Springtime for Henry which co-starred Leslie Banks, Helen Chandler, and Nigel Bruce.

At this time Frieda was quoted as saying, "I’m so aristocratic on stage it’s a wonder I don’t come out blue when I take a bath." Despite the neglect and upheavals of her childhood, Frieda was a witty, sensible, and friendly woman. This was in stark contrast to her aloof, snobbish portrayals on stage and later on screen.

On June 10, 1932, Frieda and her husband sailed to England on a vacation. It was her first return since 1919 and proved to be her last. Frieda, incidentally, never appeared in British stage or film productions. On her return to New York, she opened on Broadway in When Ladies Meet, co-starring Walter Abel, Selena Royle, Spring Byington, and Herbert Rawlinson. It had a long run. In 1934 she appeared at the Plymouth theater in Lady Jane, a drama relating the tragedy of Lady Jane Grey, pretender to the throne of England in the 16th century. It was not a hit and closed quickly.

Although Frieda had received Hollywood offers during the silent days and especially at the advent of talkies, she never really considered a film career. However, Ben Redman had been offered a lucrative job with Universal Studios as literary adviser and author. The couple decided to accept the offer and drove cross country in their newly purchased car to California.

After their arrival in Hollywood, Frieda took a part in a stage play, Merrily We Roll Along, which was staged at a Los Angeles theater. Talent scouts saw her, and she was signed for films by the Samuel Goldwyn Company. She made her debut in a supporting part in The Dark Angel which starred Fredric March and Merle Oberon. She played March’s sympathetic secretary. Variety opined, "As the understanding secretary Miss West, she is a comer on personality and charm."

She was loaned to Columbia for another supporting part, this time as a gold digging socialite in If You Could Only Cook. It was then planned that Goldwyn would star her as Fran, the selfish wife in Dodsworth. However, it was eventually decided that a bigger name was needed to boost the box office. Ruth Chatterton was hired. Free of her Goldwyn contract, she freelanced in a variety of films for various studios during 1936. These included Mary of Scotland as lady-in-waiting to Queen Katharine Hepburn, a murder victim in The Garden Murder Case and as Grace Moore’s sister in the musical The King Steps Out.

The Redman’s bought an English-style home in the San Fernando Valley. Here they became involved with the Hollywood literary circle and the English colony, which during this time was extensive. Frieda enjoyed swimming, riding, walking, cooking, and knitting. She was an avid knitter and presented friends and film colleagues with many hand-knitted garments as gifts.

She signed a contract with Warner Bros. but soon learned she had only been hired to keep another 30-plus actress, temperamental Kay Francis, in line. Ironically, she appeared in two films in support of Francis. Her best part at Warners was in Call It A Day, a story by Dodie Smith, which had been a big stage success. It concerned the light-hearted flirtations of an upper class British family on the first day of Spring. Frieda played the charming mother of two grown children who, while married to Ian Hunter, is pursued by bachelor Roland Young. Hunter, in turn, is cornered by actress Marcia Ralston. Olivia de Havilland, then 21, played her daughter, and Peter Willes, 24, her son. Frieda was only 35!

Not knowing what to do with Frieda’s calm, sophisticated style, Warners loaned her out to a number of studios during this period. Two of her better roles were leads at Republic. As a lawyer in Portia on Trial, for which she received high critical praise, and Woman Doctor. In the latter she co-starred with Henry Wilcoxon. Wilcoxon referred to Frieda jokingly, but presumably behind her back, as "Frieda Intercourse."

She settled into a pattern of icy, upper-class roles, socialites either from England or Park Avenue, New York. Her best part in this genre was as the impossibly snobbish Caroline Bingham in Pride and Prejudice for MGM, in which she sets her cap for Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy.

By the time she appeared in The Letter at Warners in support of Bette Davis, it was obvious the studio had lost interest in her. She had little screen time and was constantly photographed from the back in order not to compete with the star.

Thereafter she freelanced, drawing several good roles in 1941 -- in The Trial of Mary Dugan for MGM as an unfaithful wife; at Fox she was a presidential candidate’s wife in Remember the Day; and in a rare light role for Columbia, the knowing wife of philandering Robert Benchley in the musical You’ll Never Get Rich.

She was in a number of films from 1942 through 1944, playing mainly disapproving upper class society matrons. Finally, while appearing as a titled British lady, battling to save her family from the bite of Dracula in Return of the Vampire, at Columbia, she decided it was time to get away from Hollywood.

Her husband agreed, and they left for New York where she appeared in Soldier’s Wife with Martha Scott and Myron McCormick. The Broadway play got poor reviews, but it was noted that Frieda "was most attractive and gave a good performance." In November 1945 she was in John Van Druten’s The Mermaids Are Singing, featured as the over protective mother of Beatrice Pearson. Also in the play were old friend Walter Abel and Lois Wilson. She toured during the next two years and was back on Broadway in March, 1948 in George Bernard Shaw’s You Never Can Tell, co-starring with Ralph Forbes and Tom Helmore. The play and actors were praised by the critics, and it was a success.

Returning to Hollywood after the close of the play, she drew a good part as Alexander Knox’s selfish wife in The Judge Steps Out, who is reformed after Knox temporarily takes up with cafe owner, Ann Sothern. She wins her husband back.

She made her television debut in Hope Chest, a play seen on the Fireside Theater series on NBC in 1950. She then appeared as a regular on the Meet Corliss Archer series of 1951. Thereafter she frequently performed on television, appearing in episodes of such popular shows of the era as Climax, Thriller, Four Star Playhouse, and The Millionaire, among others.

She was also seen in a number of films. While appearing in The Crowded Sky for Warner Bros. in 1960, she experienced dizziness and disorientation. Worried, Frieda consulted her doctor. Her problem was diagnosed as the onset of multiple sclerosis.

By early 1961 she was stumbling and was forced to use a cane. Frieda, always aware of the time and expense involved in moviemaking, felt she was holding up production schedules. She decided to retire and instructed her agent not to accept any more acting assignments. Her last appearance was for the Thriller series, in a play entitled The Prisoner seen on NBC in May 23, 1961.

1961 was the worst year for Frieda. On August 2, 1961, she and her husband dined out at a restaurant. Ben Redman had been despondent for some time. Returning home he went upstairs to bed. He then called Frieda informing her he was depressed over the state of the world and had taken pills. Frieda, distraught, immediately called an ambulance. By the time the paramedics arrived, Ben Ray Redman was dead, a suicide at 65. He had been working as a writer for the Saturday Review and was also involved in the translation of European classics into English.

Due, no doubt, to the tremendous shock of her husband’s death, Frieda’s disease accelerated. Although she was able to function for some time with nursing help, she was wheelchair bound by the mid-Sixties.

On July 7, 1964, Elaine Inescort died in Brighton, England at the age of 87. There had been little contact between mother and daughter over the years.

Fighting to revive her natural good spirits, Frieda worked as much as possible for the multiple sclerosis association. Often seen in the Hollywood area, the white-haired Frieda, seated in her wheelchair, collected donations outside supermarkets and in malls.

In 1973 she finally entered the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills. She had been a patient at their hospital since the late 1960s. During the time she lived at the Country Home, she endeared herself to staff and residents alike. She also received a great many letters from fans but was unable to reply since it was impossible for her to hold a pen. The loss of the use of her hands was particularly hard on Frieda since it meant she had to give up her beloved knitting.

After a gallant battle, Frieda died at 5 PM on February 21, 1976, in the Country Home hospital. Her body was cremated, according to her wishes, at the Rosedale Cemetery on February 24, 1976. Surviving was a half sister, daughter of her father’s second marriage.

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