Louise Beavers

Biography

Date of Birth 8 March 1902, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA Date of Death 26 October 1962, Hollywood, California, USA (heart attack) Height 5' 4" (1.63 m) Mini Biography 1930s and 1940s film actress Louise Beavers was merely one of a dominant gallery of plus-sized and plus-talented African-American character actresses forced to endure blatant, discouraging and demeaning stereotypes during Depression-era and WWII Hollywood. It wasn't until Louise's triumphant role in Fannie Hurst's classic soaper Imitation of Life (1934) that a film of major significance offered a black role of meaning, substance and humanity. Despite the fact that Louise was playing yet another of her endless servile roles as housekeeper Delilah who works for single white mother Claudette Colbert, this time around her character was three-dimensional and not merely a source of servitude and/or or comic relief. She had her own dramatic story and brilliantly handled the heartbreaking co-plot of an appeasing single parent whose light-skinned daughter (played by Fredi Washington) went to cruel and desperate lengths to pass for white. While Louise certainly championed in the role and managed to steal the lion's share of reviews right from under the film's superstar, the movie triggered major controversy and just as many complaints as compliments from both black and white viewers. This certainly did not help what could have been a major, positive shift in black filmmaking. Instead, for the next two or more decades Louise was again forced to retreat into secondary status with precious few opportunities to shine. Ms. Beavers was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 8, 1902 and moved with her family to the Los Angeles area at age 11. A student at Pasadena High School and a choir member at her local church, her mother, a voice teacher, trained Louise for the concert stage but instead the young girl joined an all-female minstrel company called "Lady Minstrels" and even hooked up for a time on the vaudeville circuit. A nursing career once entertained was quickly aborted in favor of acting. Her first break of sorts was earning a living as a personal maid and assistant to Paramount star Leatrice Joy (and later actress Lilyan Tashman). By 1924 she was performing as an extra or walk-on in between her chores. A talent agent spotted her and gave her a more noticeable role in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1927). She went on to gain even more visibility, but was invariably stuck in the background cooking or cleaning after the leads. Despite this her beaming smile and good nature paid off. Following scene-grabbing maid roles to such stars as Mary Pickford in Coquette (1929) Linda Watkins in Good Sport (1931), Mae West in She Done Him Wrong (1933), Constance Bennett in What Price Hollywood? (1932) and Jean Harlow in Bombshell (1933), Louise received the role of her career. Her poignant storyline and final death scene deserved an Oscar nomination and many insiders took her snub as deliberate and prejudicial. Five years later her compatriot (and close friend) Hattie McDaniel would become the first black actor to not only earn an Oscar nomination but capture the coveted trophy as well for her subordinate role in Gone with the Wind (1939). Despite their individual triumphs, both ladies continued to trudge through more of the same, albeit steadily. Occasionally Louise was rewarded with such Hollywood "A" treats as Made for Each Other (1939) with Carole Lombard, Holiday Inn (1942) starring Bing Crosby, and especially Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. In The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), she offered lovely moments as the baseball star's mother. Although film offers dried up in the 1950s, Louise managed to transfer her talents to the new TV medium, and was one of a number of character actresses hired to play the wise-cracking, problem-solving maid "Beulah" (1950) during its run. "Beulah" was one of the first sitcoms to star a black actor. She also had a recurring role in Disney's "The Swamp Fox". In 1957, she made her professional stage debut in San Francisco with the short-lived play "Praise House" as a caregiver who extols the Bible through song. Her last few films, which included The Goddess (1958), All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960) and the Bob Hope comedy The Facts of Life (1960) were typical stereotypes and unmemorable. A long time bachelor lady who finally married in the 1950s, the short and stout actress was plagued by health issues in later years, her obesity and diabetes in particular. She lost her fight on October 26, 1962, at age 60 following a heart attack. In 1976 she was posthumously inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net Spouse Leroy Moore (1952 - 26 October 1962) (her death) Trivia African-American screen, television, and minstrel actress. Before becoming an actress, Beavers was the maid for actress Leatrice Joy. Despite the fact that she was given fourth billing in Imitation of Life (1934), her role was nearly equal in importance to Claudette Colbert's, and was the first instance of a Hollywood film in which a black woman's maternal problems were given equal importance to those of the leading white character in a film. The studio forced her to eat extra servings of food so she could play the "black mammy" roles that were available to actresses of color at the time. In 1976 she, along with Josephine Baker and Canada Lee were posthumously inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Playing cooks for most her career, in real life Louise detested cooking. A member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, one of four African-American sororities at the time. Louise died of a heart attack in Hollywood, California on October 26, 1962, exactly a decade to the day as her famed counterpart Hattie McDaniel. Louise was only a year older than actress Fredi Washington, who played her daughter in Imitation of Life (1934). Her husband, Leroy Moore, was a professional chef. Appeared as a contestant on a 1961 episode of the Groucho Marx TV series "You Bet Your Life".

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Known For
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The Jackie Robinson Story

Jackie's Mother

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Delightfully Dangerous

Hannah

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Too Busy to Work

Mammy

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Imitation of Life

Delilah Johnson

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Teenage Rebel

Willamay

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Girls About Town

Hattie

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Good-bye, My Lady

Bonnie Drew

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Registered Nurse

Flo - Sadie's Maid (uncredited)

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Wild Girl

Mammy Lou (uncredited)

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Safety in Numbers

Messalina

Starring In
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The Facts of Life

Gussie (as Louise Beaver)

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All the Fine Young Cannibals

Rose

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The Goddess

The Cook

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Frontier Doctor, Vol. 1

Clover, Nora's Housekeeper (1 episode, 1959)

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Tammy And The Bachelor

Osia, the Cook

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Good-bye, My Lady

Bonnie Drew

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You Can't Run Away from It

Maid

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Teenage Rebel

Willamay

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Never Wave at a WAC

Artamesa

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Colorado Sundown

Mattie, Jackie's Maid

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The Jackie Robinson Story

Jackie's Mother

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My Blue Heaven

Selma

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Tell It to the Judge

Cleo, Marsha's Maid (uncredited)

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Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

Gussie

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For The Love Of Mary

Bertha

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Good Sam

Chloe

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Young Widow

Rosie, the Cook (uncredited)

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Delightfully Dangerous

Hannah

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Follow The Boys

Louise Beavers (uncredited)

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Du Barry Was a Lady

Niagara

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Jack London

Mammy Jenny

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Holiday Inn

Mamie

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Reap the Wild Wind

Maum Maria

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Tennessee Johnson

Addie (uncredited)

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The Big Street

Ruby - Gloria's Maid (uncredited)

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Shadow of the Thin Man

Stella

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Belle Starr

Mammy Lou

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Primrose Path

Woman Talking to Police (uncredited)

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No Time for Comedy

Clementine

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I Dream of Jeanie

Mammy

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Made For Each Other

Lily (cook #3) (uncredited)

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Peck's Bad Boy With the Circus

Cassey

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Make Way for Tomorrow

Mamie

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The Last Gangster

Gloria, Talya's Maid

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General Spanky

Cornelia

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Bullets or Ballots

Nellie LaFleur

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Imitation of Life

Delilah Johnson

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Gambling Lady

Suzy - Peter's Cook (uncredited)

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Palooka

Crystal

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The Woman Condemned

Sally - Jane's Maid

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Registered Nurse

Flo - Sadie's Maid (uncredited)

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I've Got Your Number

Crystal

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Argento Vivo

Loretta

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A Shriek in the Night

Maid (as Louise Beaver)

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42nd Street

Pansy - Dorothy's Maid (uncredited)

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She Done Him Wrong

Pearl (Lou's maid)

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Hold Your Man

Elite Club Attendant (uncredited)

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Central Airport

Hotel Maid (uncredited)

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Midnight Mary

Anna - Mary's Maid (uncredited)

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The Phantom Broadcast

Penny (uncredited)

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Girl Missing

Julie - Daisy's Maid (uncredited)

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The Strange Love of Molly Louvain

Washroom Attendant (uncredited)

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Wild Girl

Mammy Lou (uncredited)

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Hell's Highway

Rascal's Sweetheart at Visitor's Center (uncredited)

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Doctor X

Louise

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What Price Hollywood?

The Maid

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Too Busy to Work

Mammy

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The Dark Horse

Levinnia, Kay's Maid (uncredited)

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The Greeks Had a Word for Them

Beautician (uncredited)

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Girls About Town

Hattie

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Party Husband

Laura's Maid (uncredited)

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Millie

Maid (uncredited)

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Safety in Numbers

Messalina

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Thunderbolt

Black Cat Cafe Patron (uncredited)

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Coquette

Julia

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Uncle Tom's Cabin

Slave at Wedding (uncredited)

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