Women’s History Month: Why Marie Dressler May be the Most Important Oscar Winning Actress of all Time

Written by: Keven Undergaro – March 10th 2020, 7:14pm pst

As AfterBuzz TV and her sister network, Popcorn Talk, continue to honor Women’s History Month, saluting Hollywood’s greatest females, the name Marie Dressler belongs at the top of the list.

credit: Library of Congress

Known only to a handful of film historians today, Marie Dressler was a pioneer at the dawn of the industry who overcame the staggering odds and obstacles that stand between talent and success to this very day.

Hollywood is just beginning to cast actors of varied genders, ages, shapes and sizes in starring roles. Though increasingly accepted and long overdue, this practice has a ways to go. Look back 90 years and the career of sixty-something movie star, Marie Dressler, appears all the more incredible.

credit: Library of Congress

A star of vaudeville and silent films and author of the book  Life Story of an Ugly Duckling, Marie Dressler landed her very first role in a feature film in 1914…at the age of 44 years old.

credit: Library of Congress

Dressler didn’t just star in the film. In the process of making it, she helped to discover famed producer Mack Sennett, as well as young ingenue Charlie Chaplin, giving the future icon a supporting role in his very first feature length comedy.

credit: Heritage Auction House

Though the film was successful, age and the decline of silent films shortly had Dressler struggling to find work, economically broken, and living on the couch of a friend. But she proved to be as resilient as she was brilliant. At age 59, she took on small roles in “the talkies” and became one of the few performers to successfully transition out of silent films. And she was just getting started.

credit: MGM

More roles poured in, allowing her to display her range from the deepest drama to the lightest comedy. By the age of 65, she had won an Oscar and had been featured on the cover of Time Magazine.  She achieved incredible wealth and for five years was one of Hollywood’s Top Five box office attractions, a rank she commanded until her death in 1934.

credit: Library of Congress

As an actress, a comedian, and a visionary, Marie Dressler remains 100 years ahead of her time – and one of the most important and revolutionary Oscar winning actress of ALL time.

About The Author:

Keven Undergaro is a the Founder and Chief Content Officer of AfterBuzz TV. Known as “The Hollywood Career Coach,” he is a brand builder, entrepreneur, award winning filmmaker, and New York Times bestselling author.

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