Ruth Donnelly Topper

Ruth Donnelly – The Wise Old Broad

A stage actress since she was 17, Ruth Donnelly transitioned to Hollywood in full by the early 1930s. Since this put her age as her late 30s, that was the perfect age to cast her as many young starlet’s cynical mother. Donnelly is always reliable for a gag since she could switch between being flirtatious and accusatory before anyone was sure what was what. She helped lighten heavy dramatic movies as well, such as when she’s the doddering Kansas tourist who reassures Kay Francis in Mandalay or when she’s the prison matron terrifying her charges with an aggressive cockatoo in Ladies They Talk About.

Her popularity never really faded, and she landed in some choice roles in later years such as in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to The Snake Pit. She passed on in 1982.

Ruth Donnelly’s Pre-Code Filmography

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