MARIE DRESSLER


  Marie Dressler and Robert Young in  Tugboat Anni e  Photographic Reproduction  1932 Marie Dressler Foundation Collection

Marie Dressler and Robert Young in Tugboat Annie
Photographic Reproduction

1932
Marie Dressler Foundation Collection

Born Leila Koerber on November 9, 1868 in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, Marie Dressler knew from a young age that she wanted to spend her life bringing joy and laughter to people.

At the age of fourteen, Marie wrote a letter to the Nevada Traveling Stock Company requesting a job. Determined to become an accomplished Broadway actress in New York City, Marie changed her name from Leila Koerber in 1883 to save her family the embarrassment of having a daughter in show business.

After leaving the Stock Company, Marie joined the Bennett-Moulton Opera Company. There, she was able to perfect her acting skills, playing engaging characters that were both comical and endearing.

Her stardom is one of the great anomalies in Hollywood history, a kind of adoration that isn’t supposed to happen to an older, homely woman.
— Matthew Kennedy, Author
  Marie Dressler and Charlie Chaplin in  Tillie's Punctured Romance   Photograph  1914 Photographed by Otto Bettmann, Bettmann Collection, Getty Images

Marie Dressler and Charlie Chaplin in Tillie's Punctured Romance
Photograph

1914
Photographed by Otto Bettmann, Bettmann Collection, Getty Images

Her big break came when producer George Lederer cast her in a supporting role opposite the popular actress Lillian Russell in Princess Nicotine. After a steady and successful stage career on Broadway and in London's West End, Marie was cast alongside Charlie Chaplin in the 1914 silent film, Tillie’s Punctured Romance.

By the age of 60, Marie was not only the highest earning film star, but also the top box office draw in the industry. In 1931, Marie won the academy award for Best Actress for her role as Min in the hit comedy film Min and Bill.  Two years later, she became the first Canadian featured on the cover of TIME Magazine.

  Marie Dressler and Lionel Barrymore in  Dinner at Eight    Photographic Reproduction  1933  Marie Dressler Foundation Collection

Marie Dressler and Lionel Barrymore in Dinner at Eight

Photographic Reproduction

1933

Marie Dressler Foundation Collection

Although she endured many personal and professional hardships during a career spanning five decades, Marie ultimately became one of the greatest and most beloved performers of her time. Sadly, on July 28, 1934, Marie lost an ongoing battle with cancer, leaving both Hollywood and the public heavily grief stricken.

 

© Marie Dressler Museum 2016