Una O'Connor

Biography

Una O'Connor (October 23, 1880 – February 4, 1959) was an Irish actress who worked extensively in theatre before becoming a notable character actress in film. Born Agnes Teresa McGlade to a Catholic nationalist family in Belfast, Ireland, and educated at St. Vincent's National School, she changed her name when she began her acting career with Dublin's Abbey Theatre. For many years, she worked in Ireland and England as a stage actress, for example in The Starlight Express at the Kingsway Theatre in London (1915–1916). She appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Murder! (1930). Despite her lengthy apprenticeship she had not attracted much attention until she was chosen by Noel Coward to appear in Cavalcade (1933). Her success led her to Hollywood to reprise her role, and with its success, O'Connor decided to remain there. A favourite of the director James Whale, among O'Connor's most successful and best remembered roles are her comic performances in Whale's The Invisible Man (1933) as the publican's wife and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as the Baron's housekeeper. She played 'straight' roles too, such as the grieving mother of a captured IRA member in The Informer (1935). O'Connor also appeared in supporting roles in various theatre productions, and achieved an outstanding success in the role of "Janet McKenzie", the nearly deaf housemaid, in Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution at Henry Miller's Theatre on Broadway from 1954 until 1956. As one of the witnesses, in what was essentially a serious drama, O'Connor's character was intended to provide comic relief. O'Connor's gravestone O'Connor was highly praised for her work, and also played the role in the Billy Wilder film version of the same name in 1957. The film was a great success, and O'Connor once again received excellent reviews. It was her final film performance. By this time she was in her late seventies, and decided to retire. She died, having never married or had children, in New York City from heart disease, aged 78. Delightful character actress who held her own against such acting heavyweights as Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Tyrone Power, Barbara Stanwyck, and Sydney Greenstreet. Often cast by studio heads as comic relief thanks to her thick Irish accent and rubber-faced expressions, most notably in Universal's horror classics, Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and The Invisible Man (1933). Her final role was as the devoted housekeeper in Billy Wilder's Witness for the Prosecution (1957), a role she originated on stage. Her hilarious testimony during the trial is one of the film's highlights.

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Known For
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Cavalcade

Ellen Bridges

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La folle ingénue

Mrs. Wilson

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Personal Property

Clara

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Holy Matrimony

Sarah Leek

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Chained

Amy, Diane's Maid

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My Pal Wolf

Mrs. Blevin

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The Return of Monte Cristo

Miss Beedle

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He Stayed for Breakfast

Doreta

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The Invisible Man

Jenny Hall

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Three Girls About Town

Maggie O'Callahan

Starring In
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Witness for the Prosecution

Janet

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Tales of Tomorrow, Collection 3

Edythe (2 episodes, 1952)

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Adventures of Don Juan

Duenna

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Lost Honeymoon

Mrs. Tubbs

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La folle ingénue

Mrs. Wilson

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The Return of Monte Cristo

Miss Beedle

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The Bells Of St. Mary's

Mrs. Breen

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Christmas in Connecticut

Norah

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Das Gespenst von Canterville

Mrs. Umney

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My Pal Wolf

Mrs. Blevin

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Holy Matrimony

Sarah Leek

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Government Girl

Mrs. Harris

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Forever and a Day

Mrs. Caroline Ismay

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This Land Is Mine

Mrs. Emma Lory

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Random Harvest

Tobacconist

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Three Girls About Town

Maggie O'Callahan

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The Strawberry Blonde

Mrs. Mulcahey

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Lillian Russell

Marie

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He Stayed for Breakfast

Doreta

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The Sea Hawk

Miss Latham

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The Adventures of Robin Hood

Bess

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Call It a Day

Mrs. Milson, the Housekeeper

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Personal Property

Clara

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Suzy

Landlady

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Rose-Marie

Anna

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Little Lord Fauntleroy

Mary

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Lloyds of London

Widow Blake

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The Informer

Mrs. McPhillip

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The Bride of Frankenstein

Minnie

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David Copperfield

Mrs. Gummidge

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Las Vírgenes de Wimpole Street

Wilson

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Stingaree

Annie

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Chained

Amy, Diane's Maid

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The Invisible Man

Jenny Hall

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Cavalcade

Ellen Bridges

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Mary Stevens, M.D.

Mrs. Arnell Simmons

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Murder!

Mrs. Grogram

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