Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Norma Varden

January 20, 1898 - January 19, 1989

Character actress extraordinaire Norma Varden began her Hollywood career in the early 1940's, appearing in such classics as Casablanca (1942, above), but she had been on the English stage since 1916, when she made her debut in Peter Pan at age 18 -- as Mrs. Darling! Even then, Varden's mature looks and regal bearing prevented her from following the typical ingenue path. By the 1950's, Varden's distinctive presence was a welcome fixture in films and on television; among her more memorable appearances were as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell's haughty nemesis in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953); Tyrone Power's murder victim in Witness for the Prosecution (1957); and, as the decade turned, the Baxter family's barmy neighbor on Hazel (1961-65). She even made the most of her few, thankless scenes as Frau Schmidt, the Von Trapps' housekeeper in The Sound of Music (1965). Retired since 1969, Norma Varden passed away from heart failure just one day shy of her 91st birthday.


  1. It's always been so odd in the movie (SOM) that Frau Schmidt just sort of disappears shortly after Maria's arrival! Love her snooty line, "I really shouldn't tell you this. I mean, I don't know you that well, but..."

  2. I love that line (and her reading of it), too!

  3. I loved her in "Fancy Pants" with Lucille Ball and Bob Hope as well as her turn in Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train." She was a class act all around.

  4. Yes! I'd forgotten about "Strangers on a Train." I just love her in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," too. Thanks for sharing!