Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Una O'Connor

I’m writing this brief post as part of the fourth ‘What A Character’ blogathon. Many thanks to Paula, Aurora and Kellee for doing this again this year and putting in the work to promote beforehand and during the ‘push week’. 

Character actors are often the glue the holds a film together. Without them, there’d be a hole in many films.

There’s a reason I proudly proclaim ‘UNA!’ on twitter whenever this fair maiden of scream appears on my TCM screen: She’s delightfully charming and slightly off-key. And while--at five foot, two inches--she’s slight in stature, she makes up for it with a unique voice, great facial expressions and (last but not least) a great high-pitched screech of a scream.

Young Una O'Connor

The New York Times biography aptly describes her as having “...the body of a scarecrow, the contemptuous stare of a house detective, and the voice of an air-raid siren…”

I’d be remiss if I only talked about her elastic face and screeching voice, because there were performances that were quieter. Take for example her role as Mrs. Wilson in Ernst Lubitsch’s Cluny Brown (1946). In this film she gives a subtle performance without one line of dialog.

Cavalcade w/Herbert Mundin

Una O’Connor was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1880 as Agnes Teresa McGlade. Her early career began on the stage in Ireland and England. Appearing in productions like “The Starlight Express” and “Autumn Fire”. In fact her work on the stage continued through her entire career. On the screen she was frequently cast as the meddlesome housekeeper and was frequently used for comic relief.

Let’s look at some of the amazing films and stars she worked with:

That’s an impressive list of talent to be working with.

Like many actors, her later career included a lot of television roles including shows like “Martin Kane”, “Hopalong Cassidy” and “Tales of Tomorrow”.

Witness For The Prosecution

In Witness for the Prosecution, O’Connor reprised her role from the stage. ‘Witness’ was her final film, she retired after making this film in her 70s and died two years later in New York City having never married and having no children.

The next time you're watching a classic film and see Ms. O'Connor in the film...don't be shy.  Shout out to the Twitter world "UNA!" :)