The B’s Have It for Beulah Bondi

Beulah Bondi—an actress with the alliteration we love—grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana. A town chock full of funny name goodness, take Orville Redenbacher for instance. Arto covered him cleverly here. The stars aligned in Valparaiso with famous actors and popcorn all in one place.

Beulah started her acting career at age seven playing the lead in “Little Lord Fauntleroy” in 1895.

Moving to New York she made her Broadway debut in 1925 and by 1929 her performance in “Street Scene” brought her to Hollywood, where she reprised her role as Emma Jones in the movie version. The Broadway role won her a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A well named award indeed. Say it with me, Pulitzer. Doesn’t it just roll off your tongue? Not to be confused with Wurlitzer. I guess that would be music to our ears.

Who doesn’t love a little controversy sometimes. Bondi was born Bondy. Two version of why she changed her name float around the internet. The most prevalent rumor is her father disapproved of her acting career. However, her father ran the playhouse where she made her debut in Valparaiso. The second version is she shortened the last letter of her name to an “i” so it would fit better on the theater marquee. A Bondy Mystery if ever I heard one, and since I just said it, I guess I just heard it.

For our trivia fans in the audience, she was one of the first five women ever to be nominated in the category of “Best Supporting Actress”. She didn’t win. She lost again in the same category two years later.

Oscar eluded her.

She made her career as a character actress in the studio system playing mother figures even though she was only a few years older than some of the actors playing her children.

Most famous for her role as Ma Bailey in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”, she played Jimmy Stewart’s mother in three additional films. Let’s not forget, Jimmy Stewart, an actor with two first names, not to be confused with Stuart of Mad TV Fame. But I digress.

Where Oscar eluded her, Emmy made up for it. She won an Emmy for her guest role on the Waltons as Aunt Martha Corinne Walton and her second and final Emmy in 1976. When her name was called in ’76, everyone thought she wasn’t at the award ceremony because she was so slow to respond. She received a standing ovation from the audience as she slowly made her way to the podium. She was 86 who’s gonna rush her?

She never married or had children despite making a career playing the role of a mother.

Beulah left this earth in 1981—tripping over her cat and breaking her ribs giving her pulmonary complications at the tender age of 91.

Rest in peace Ma Bailey. It was a wonderful life.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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21 Responses to The B’s Have It for Beulah Bondi

  1. ksbeth says:

    shows that being a ‘mother’ can pay off in myriad ways.

  2. wdydfae says:

    Delightful thumbnail and T’oob clip!

  3. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    It’s a wonderful life for Beulah Bondi. This month’s contribution to the Blog of funny names.

  4. Dave says:

    I wonder how many people in attendance at the BoFN *aren’t* trivia buffs. Still tryna figure out how Diddy does that italics thing. I know he’s told me, but I’m more focused on some other things these days.

    But seriously, I bet the BoFN attracts a great number of trivia buffs. Or at least that’s the hope!

    • I can’t answer to how many trivia buffs we attract, but I can answer the question on the italics thing. It is the judicious use of HTML in his comments.

      Example code start line with a less than symbol < followed immediately by the letter "i" in lower case, follow by the greater than symbol–no spaces. Enter your marvelous text. At the end enter your less than symbol, the forward slash /, follow by the lower case “i”, and close with the greater than symbol “>”. Again no spaces.

      Example: Type your mind bending text here.

      • Dave says:

        Nice!!! Fannie is a champ!

      • wdydfae says:


        I don’t want to freak you guys out, but the way I do italics is just like Fannie said except I put a lower case “em” between the carrots rather than an i.

        The formula is: left carrot + em + right carrot.

        I don’t know why “em”. I was just following the html code of already written stuff (if that’s the right term for it).

        I guess it only goes to show there’s more than one way to get italics in this crazy world!

        So, what about bold? Huh, huh, huh?

        • BOLD To bold or not to bold that is the question? Using the formula: left carrot + b + right carrot. Then closing with the left carrot + / + b+ right carrot.

          I love your use of “em”. I had to go back to my original 3″ x 5″ note cards to find it. It works with bold as well. 🙂

          • wdydfae says:

            Not to totally freak you out even more, but the formula I use for bold is:

            left carrot + strong + right carrot. Then closing with the left carrot + / + strong + right carrot.

            The word “strong” goes between the carrots. (I forgot to mention about the slash in the previous comment–you are right.)

            So, I always thought you had to be strong to be bold, but it turns out you only have to b to be bold.

          • Use strong and bold, together or apart, makes my words jump on the page, and emphasizes lines like art. 🙂

            Now I’m going to have to find my notes on strong.

          • wdydfae says:

            Who’d a thunk all these way out and whacky stuffs?!?!?

          • People with too much time on their hands.

            Found the notes “em” for emphasis, same as “strong” no notes as to why. Both used with bold and italics.

            Don’t have any further info on block quotes, except as a tool for formatting. But they are fun to employ . . .

            Yours in HTML questions, not answers

          • wdydfae says:

            Now I’m curious about



            Am I the only one who’s curious about



          • And my old notes on block quotes. Variety they say is the spice of HTML, or was that live? 😉

        • wdydfae says:

          We can be emphatic, strongly emphatic, or

          quote-worthily strongly emphatic!

  5. kerbey says:

    What a fun video! I spent much of my childhood, learning about old MGM stars and old Hollywood and never heard of her before. Despite the fact that the narrator sounded like Joan Cusack, whose voice I loathe, I enjoyed the lesson. No husband, no kids, and yet so many decades playing those roles. Still, Beulah is a terrible name.

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