Margaret Dumont


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(1889–1965). Film, stage, and television performer. A stately, very proper character actress forever remembered as the foil in seven Marx Brothers films, the buxom but elegant singer–actress was also featured in other movie musicals and on Broadway. Dumont was born in Brooklyn and went on the stage as a child, even appearing in a silent movie in 1917. She made her Broadway debut in 1921 and was seen in a handful of plays before playing the wealthy matron Mrs. Potter in the musical The Cocoanuts (1925) starring the Marx Brothers. Dumont joined them again for Animal Crackers (1928) and then reprised both performances in the 1929 and 1930 film versions. She went to Hollywood with the brothers and appeared in five more of their films, Duck Soup (1933), A Night at the Opera (1935), A Day at the Races (1937), At the Circus (1939), and The Big Store (1941), as well as over fifty other movies over the next three decades. Among her screen musical credits are Anything Goes (1936), Song and Dance Man (1936), The Life of the Party (1937), Born to Sing (1942), Sing Your Worries Away (1942), Rhythm Parade (1942), Up in Arms (1944), Bathing Beauty (1944), and What a Way to Go! (1964), as well as some television shows in the 1950s. Dumont aspired to be a serious actress but was rarely given the opportunity and claimed not to understand the Marx Brothers' humor at all.

From The Oxford Companion to the American Musical in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music Theatre.

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