Best known for playing Brigid O’Shaughnessy in the 1941 John Huston directed film-noir crime mystery “The Maltese Falcon,” Mary Astor was born on May 3, 1906 in Quincy, Illinois.
With the dawn of the talkies and the passing of the silent movie era, many actors and actresses saw their acting careers fade. Fortunately for Miss Astor, her career was not impacted by the then modern technology. Even though her voice was initially considered too masculine. Consequently, Miss Astor was off the screen for almost a year.
Interestingly, appearing in a play with friend Florence Eldridge influenced film offers. Her film career continued unabated until scandal impacted Miss Astor significantly. In a custody fight over her daughter, Miss Astor’s ex-husband Dr. Franklyn Thorpe branded her as an adulterous wife.
Even though Dr. Thorpe tried to blacken ex-wife’s name, the actress went on to greater screen success. Illustrating this point, for her performance in the 1941 Edmund Goulding directed drama “The Great Lie,” Miss Astor won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Miss Astor, on contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer until the late 1940s, worked in film, television, and stage until her retirement in 1964.
After the success of her book “My Story: An Autobiography,” was published in 1959, Miss Astor went on to write “A Life on Film.” In addition, the aging actress wrote five novels: “The Incredible Charley Carewe” (1960), “The Image of Kate” (1962), “The O’Conners” (1964), “Goodbye Darling, Be Happy” (1965) and “A Place Called Saturday” (1968).
Although Miss Astor is quoted to have said, “”There are five stages in the life of an actor: who’s Mary Astor? Get me Mary Astor. Get me a Mary Astor type. Get me a young Mary Astor. Who’s Mary Astor?,” several other prominent acting talents of the period have been associated with the quote.
Miss Astor died on Sept. 25, 1987, at age 81, of respiratory failure due to pulmonary emphysema while in the hospital at the Motion Picture House complex.