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Ellen Corby 1911-1999
 


Country : Racine, Wisconsin
Profession : Actress
Date of birth : 1911-06-03
Date of death : 1999-04-14
Cause of Death : Natural causes

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Ellen Corby (June 3, 1911 – April 14, 1999) was an American Academy Award-nominated actress. She is most widely remembered for the role of "Grandma Esther Walton" on the CBS television series The Waltons, for which she won three Emmy Awards.

Early life

Corby was born Ellen Hansen in Racine, Wisconsin, the daughter of Danish parents. She grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An interest in amateur theater while in high school led her to Atlantic City in 1932 where she briefly worked as a chorus girl. She moved to Hollywood that same year and got a job as a script girl at RKO Studios and Hal Roach Studios, where she frequently worked on the Our Gang Comedies, next to her husband, cinematographer Francis Corby. She held that position for the next twelve years and took acting lessons on the side.

Career

Corby began her career as a writer, working on the Paramount Western Twilight on the Trail and 1947's Hoppy's Holiday. She landed her first acting job in 1945, playing a maid in RKO's Cornered.

In 1948 she received an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress playing a lovelorn aunt in I Remember Mama (1948). Over the next four decades, she worked steadily in both film and television, often playing maids, secretaries, waitresses or gossips. She was a favorite in western films (including Shane, 1953) and had a recurring role as "Henrietta Porter" in the western television series Trackdown (1957 – 1959). Other television appearances included Wagon Train, The Rifleman, I Love Lucy, Tightrope, The Virginian, Channing, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Get Smart, Gomer Pyle, The Beverly Hillbillies and The Andy Griffith Show.

Her most famous role came on CBS in 1971 when she was cast as "Grandma Esther Walton" on the made-for-TV film The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which served as the pilot for The Waltons. Corby would go on to resume the role on The Waltons, which became a weekly series from 1972-1981, and resulted in several sequel films. For her work in The Waltons, she won her three Emmy Awards and three more nominations as Best Supporting Actress. She left the show early in 1977, due to a massive stroke she suffered, which impaired her speech. She did come back at the beginning of the 1978 season, and had limited roles, but was forced out of the show for good in 1979.

Private life

Corby was married to Francis Corby from 1934 until his death in 1944; some time was spent in Luzerne, PA where she raised two daughters who modelled and also began to act. She was an early practitioner and advocate of the Transcendental Meditation Program, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and appeared with the Maharishi on The Merv Griffin Show in the mid '70s.

She suffered a serious stroke in 1977 but recovered and went on to appear in several television films based on The Waltons. Her stroke was written into the show, with Grandma Walton also suffering a stroke and struggling to regain her speech. Her last appearance was in A Walton Easter (1997).

She died at the age of 87 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. She was entombed in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

Filmography

1930s

  • Rafter Romance (1933)
  • Sons of the Desert (1933)
  • Twisted Rails (1934)
  • Speed Limited (1935)
  • The Broken Coin (1936)

1940s

  • Cornered (1945)
  • The Scarlet Horseman (1946)
  • The Spiral Staircase (1946)
  • From This Day Forward (1946)
  • The Dark Corner (1946)
  • The Truth About Murder (1946)
  • Bedlam (1946)
  • In Old Sacramento (1946)
  • Lover Come Back (1946)
  • Till the End of Time (1946)
  • Cuban Pete (1946)
  • Crack-Up (1946)
  • Sister Kenny (1946)
  • The Locket (1946)
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Beat the Band (1947)
  • Born to Kill (1947)
  • The Long Night (1947)
  • Living in a Big Way (1947)
  • They Wont Believe Me (1947)
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
  • The Hal Roach Comedy Carnival (1947)
  • The Fabulous Joe (1947)
  • Driftwood (1947)
  • Railroaded! (1947)
  • Forever Amber (1947)
  • If You Knew Susie (1948)
  • I Remember Mama (1948)
  • The Noose Hangs High (1948)
  • Fighting Father Dunne (1948)
  • The Dark Past (1948)
  • Strike It Rich (1949)
  • Rusty Saves a Life (1949)
  • A Woman's Secret (1949)
  • Little Women (1949)
  • The Judge Steps Out (1949)
  • Mighty Joe Young (1949)
  • Madame Bovary (1949)

1950s

  • Captain China (1950)
  • Caged (1950)
  • The Gunfighter (1950)
  • Peggy (1950)
  • Edge of Doom (1950)
  • Harriet Craig (1950)
  • Stars over Hollywood (1950)
  • Angels in the Outfield (1951)
  • The Barefoot Mailman (1951)
  • Goodbye, My Fancy (1951)
  • Here Comes the Groom (1951)
  • The Mating Season (1951)
  • On Moonlight Bay (1951)
  • The Sea Hornet (1951)
  • Stars over Hollywood (1951)
  • Fearless Fagan (1952)
  • Monsoon (1952)
  • Your Jeweler's Showcase (1952)
  • A Lion Is in the Streets (1953)
  • Dragnet (1953)
  • Letter to Loretta (1953)
  • Shane (1953)
  • The Story of Three Loves (1953)
  • Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)
  • The Vanquished (1953)
  • You Are There (1953)
  • Sabrina (1954)
  • About Mrs. Leslie (1954)
  • The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters (1954)
  • Dragnet (1954)
  • The Ford Television Theatre (1954)
  • Four Star Playhouse (1954)
  • Lux Video Theatre (1954)
  • Susan Slept Here (1954)
  • Untamed Heiress (1954)
  • General Electric Theater (1954)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955)
  • Illegal (1955)
  • The Millionaire (1955)
  • Stage 7 (1955)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1956)
  • The Go-Getter (1956)
  • I Love Lucy (1956)
  • Lux Video Theatre (1956)
  • Matinee Theater (1956)
  • The Millionaire (1956)
  • The Roy Rogers Show (1956)
  • Stagecoach to Fury (1956)
  • Slightly Scarlet (1956)
  • The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1957)
  • The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (1957)
  • All Mine to Give (1957)
  • God Is My Partner (1957)
  • The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1957)
  • Mr. Adams and Eve (1957)
  • Night Passage (1957)
  • The Joseph Cotten Show, also known as On Trial (1957)
  • Rockabilly Baby (1957)
  • The Seventh Sin (1957)
  • The 20th Century-Fox Hour (1957)
  • Trackdown, recurring role as Henrietta Porter (1957-1959)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1958)
  • As Young as We Are (1958)
  • Decision (1958)
  • Macabre (1958)
  • The Restless Gun (1958)
  • Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1958)
  • The Texan (1958)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1959)
  • The DuPont Show with June Allyson, as Mrs. Walters, with James Coburn and Jane Powell, in episode entitled "The Girl" (1959)
  • Lock Up (1959)
  • Wagon Train (1959)
  • The Restless Gun (1959)
  • Perry Mason (1959)
  • Trackdown (1959)
  • Peter Gunn (1959)
  • 77 Sunset Strip (1959)

1960s

  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1960)
  • Bonanza (1960)
  • The Chevy Mystery Show (1960)
  • General Electric Theater (1960)
  • Hot off the Wire (1960)
  • The Rebel (1960)
  • Lock Up (1960)
  • The Rifleman (1960)
  • Tales of Wells Fargo (1960)
  • Thriller (1960)
  • Tightrope (1960)
  • Visit to a Small Planet (1960)
  • Wagon Train (1960)
  • Follow the Sun (1961)
  • Frontier Circus (1961)
  • General Electric Theater (1961)
  • Lassie (1961)
  • Pocketful of Miracles (1961)
  • The Rifleman (1961)
  • Surfside 6 (1961)
  • The Tab Hunter Show (1961)
  • The Tall Man (1961)
  • Cheyenne (1962)
  • The Dick Powell Show (1962)
  • Dr. Kildare (1962)
  • Saintly Sinners (1962)
  • 87th Precinct (1962)
  • The Andy Griffith Show (1963)
  • Bonanza (1963)
  • The Caretakers (1963)
  • The Lucy Show (1963)
  • McKeever and the Colonel (1963)
  • 4 for Texas (1963)
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1964)
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (1964)
  • Destry (1964)
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1964)
  • Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
  • The Strangler (1964)
  • The Virginian (1964)
  • The Addams Family (1965)
  • Ben Casey (1965)
  • Daniel Boone (1965)
  • The Donna Reed Show (1965)
  • The Family Jewels (1965)
  • The Farmer's Daughter (1965)
  • Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1965)
  • Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1966)
  • The F.B.I. (1966)
  • The Fugitive (1966)
  • Get Smart (1966)
  • The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)
  • The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
  • Honey West (1966)
  • Laredo (1966)
  • Lassie (1966)
  • The Night of the Grizzly (1966)
  • The Big Valley (1967)
  • The F.B.I. (1967)
  • The Gnome-Mobile (1967)
  • The Invaders (1967)
  • Ironside (1967)
  • Mr. Terrific (1967)
  • Rango (1967)
  • Batman (1968)
  • The F.B.I. (1968)
  • The Guns of Will Sonnett (1968)
  • Hawaii Five-O (1968)
  • The High Chaparral (1968)
  • Lassie (1968)
  • The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)
  • The Mystery of Edward Sims (1968)
  • Adam-12 (1969)
  • Angel in My Pocket (1969)
  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1969)
  • Lancer (1969)
  • The Outsider (1969)
  • Ruba al prossimo tuo (1969)

1970s

  • The F.B.I. (1970)
  • Bracken's World (1970)
  • Nanny and the Professor (1970)
  • Adam-12 (1971)
  • Cannon (1971)
  • The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)
  • Love, American Style (1971)
  • The Odd Couple (1971)
  • Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)
  • A Tattered Web (1971)
  • Love, American Style (1972)
  • Napoleon and Samantha (1972)
  • Night Gallery (1972)
  • The Waltons, recurring role as Esther Walton (1972 – 1980)
  • Tenafly (1973)
  • The Story of Pretty Boy Floyd (1974)
  • All the Way Home (1981)
  • Wedding on Walton's Mountain (1982)
  • A Day for Thanks on Walton's Mountain (1982)
  • A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (1993)
  • A Walton Wedding (1995)
  • A Walton Easter (1997)

Writer

  • The Broken Coin (1936) (as Ellen Hansen)
  • Twilight on the Trail (1941) (screenplay)
  • Hoppy's Holiday (1947) (story)

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