Margaret Hamilton (actress)

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Margaret Hamilton (Actress)

Margaret Hamilton (Margaret Brainard Hamilton) –  (December 9, 1902 – May 16, 1985) was an American actress and educator. She was renowned for her depiction of the Wicked Witch of the West and her Kansas counterpart Almira Gulch in the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film The Wizard of Oz.

A former educator, she transitioned to become a character actress in films for seven years before landing the role that defined her public persona. In subsequent years, Hamilton appeared in films and made frequent cameo appearances on television sitcoms and commercials. She also earned acclaim for her advocacy work supporting causes benefiting children and animals and maintained a lifelong dedication to public education.


Margaret Hamilton was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and honed her skills in children’s theater while she was a member of the Junior League of Cleveland. She debuted as a “professional entertainer” on December 9, 1929, in a performance of “heartrending songs” at the Charles S. Brooks Theater at the Cleveland Play House. Before fully committing to acting, her parents urged her to attend Wheelock College in Boston, which she did, eventually becoming a kindergarten teacher.

During the 1970s, Margaret Hamilton resided in New York City’s Gramercy Park neighborhood and appeared in local (and some national) public-service announcements for organizations promoting pet welfare. Her most notable roles during this period included portraying general store owner Cora in a series of national television commercials for Maxwell House coffee. On October 30, 1975, she made a guest appearance on the radio revival series CBS Radio Mystery Theater, starring in the episode “Triptych for a Witch” as the title character.

Margaret Hamilton also ventured into stage production, producing An Evening with the Bourgeoisie in 1973, along with other productions like The Three Sisters and House Party during the mid-1970s.

Cleveland, Ohio, U.S

Cleveland, Ohio, U.S

Name

Date of Birth

Birth of Place

Died

Death Place

College

Profession

Nationality

Career

Political Party

Children

Spouse

Reltionship

Notable Work

Margaret Brainard Hamilton

December 9, 1902

Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.

May 16, 1985

Salisbury, Connecticut, U.S.

Wheelock College

Actress, School Teacher

U.S. [3]

1933–1982

Republican

1

Paul Meserve

(m. 1931; div. 1938)

Miss Gulch and The Wicked Witch of the West in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Career

Natalie Morales, the actress, made her mark with a guest appearance on CSI: Miami in 2006, and also lent her talents to the video game version of the popular MTV series, Pimp My Ride, in the same year. Her breakthrough came with a major role in The Middleman, a sci-fi dramedy aired on the ABC Family network for one season, where she portrayed Wendy Watson, a character adapted from the comic book series of the same name. Morales expanded her creative horizons by starring in and executive producing the Web series Quitters, which was an official selection at the 3rd annual ITVFest (Independent Television Festival) in Los Angeles in August 2008.

In 2009, Morales joined the cast of the USA Network television series White Collar for its first season, playing the role of Lauren Cruz, a junior FBI agent. After departing from White Collar, she found a regular spot on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation starting in May 2010, portraying Lucy, the girlfriend of Aziz Ansari’s character Tom Haverford and a bartender at The Snakehole Lounge. Morales also appeared in Oliver Stone’s 2010 film, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, a sequel to his 1987 classic. Additionally, she was cast as Chelsea Handler’s best friend in Are You There, Chelsea?, although she left the show due to creative changes. Her talent further shone through in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama, The Newsroom, where she guest-starred as Kaylee, the girlfriend of Dev Patel’s character, Neal. In 2013, Morales became part of the cast of Trophy Wife as Meg, Kate’s best friend.  She joined the Fox series The Grinder in 2015 and made appearances in some episodes of the NBC series Powerless in 2017. Morales’s versatility was evident as she took on the role of Detective Anne Garcia in the Netflix horror comedy series Santa Clarita Diet in the same year.

Continuing her journey, Morales appeared in the NBC multi-camera sitcom Abby’s, created by Josh Malmuth and executive produced by Parks and Recreation creator Michael Schur. Premiering on March 28, 2019, Abby’s marked Morales’s third series for the network. Later in 2019, she was cast as Michelle in the second season of the Netflix black comedy series Dead to Me. In a testament to her growing acclaim, Morales landed the role of Kate Danton in the third season of The Morning Show, set to air in 2023.

Margaret Hamilton began her cinematic journey with a role in the MGM film Another Language (1933), alongside Helen Hayes and Robert Montgomery. Her career progressed with appearances in These Three (1936), Saratoga, You Only Live Once, When’s Your Birthday?, Nothing Sacred (all 1937), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), and Mae West’s My Little Chickadee (with W. C. Fields, 1940), among others. Not tethered to any single studio, she sought diverse opportunities, setting her fee at $1,000 a week (equivalent to $20,400 with inflation).

In the 1940s, Margaret Hamilton shared the screen with Buster Keaton and Richard Cromwell in a spoof of the local melodrama The Drunkard, titled The Villain Still Pursued Her. Later, she starred in the film noir Bungalow 13 (1948), once again alongside Cromwell. Her distinctive crisp voice and clear enunciation became her trademark. Throughout the early 1950s and intermittently thereafter, she took on supporting roles in various films. Notably, she portrayed a witch opposite Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Comin’ Round the Mountain, engaging in a memorable confrontation involving voodoo dolls.

In Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s People Will Talk (1951), she made an uncredited appearance as Sarah Pickett. In 1960, producer/director William Castle cast Margaret Hamilton as a housekeeper in his horror film 13 Ghosts, wherein Charles Herbert’s character taunted her about being a witch, culminating in a memorable scene where she holds a broom.

The Wizard of Oz

In 1939, Margaret Hamilton portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West, opposite Judy Garland’s Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, bringing to life not only her most renowned character but also one of the screen’s most unforgettable villains. Hamilton was selected for the role after Gale Sondergaard, initially considered, declined when it was decided that the witch should appear menacing rather than glamorous.

On December 23, 1938, Margaret Hamilton suffered second-degree burns on her face and third-degree burns on her hand during a retake of her fiery exit from Munchkinland, caused by a delayed trap door. She spent six weeks recuperating before returning to the set, adamantly refusing any further involvement with fire. Studio executives trimmed some of Hamilton’s more frightening scenes, concerned they would disturb young viewers. Despite this, Hamilton later reflected humorously on her casting:

“At the time, I was in need of money and had done about six pictures for MGM. When my agent called about The Wizard of Oz, I was thrilled. That had been my favorite book since I was four. Then he told me the part: The Witch! I couldn’t believe it!”

Hamilton’s stand-in and stunt double, Betty Danko, also suffered an on-set accident on February 11, 1939, sustaining severe burns during a skywriting sequence. Danko, doubling for the Witch, endured a smoking pipe mishap, resulting in permanent leg scars. When reflecting on her experiences, Hamilton expressed concern that her monstrous on-screen persona might mislead children about her true character. In reality, she was known for her philanthropy, frequently supporting charitable causes.

Margaret Hamilton  played two credited roles in the film: Almira Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West. She also appeared as an unidentified flying witch during the tornado scene. Her famous line, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” ranked 99th in the 2005 American Film Institute survey of memorable movie quotes. Hamilton’s son revealed that she often enjoyed using the line in her everyday life.

Following her role in Oz, Margaret Hamilton appeared in Babes in Arms (1939) as Jeff Steele’s aunt, Martha, and in George White’s Scandals (1945) as the domineering sister of her Oz co-star Jack Haley. She later starred alongside Ray Bolger in the 1966 fantasy film The Daydreamer and reunited with him on Broadway for the musical Come Summer.

Radio & Television

During the 1940s and 1950s, Margaret Hamilton enjoyed a lengthy stint on the radio series Ethel and Albert (also known as The Couple Next Door), portraying the endearing yet scatterbrained Aunt Eva (later renamed Aunt Effie). Her talent also graced two episodes of The Phil Silvers Show in 1957. Transitioning to television during the 1960s and 1970s, she became a familiar face, appearing as a mystery guest on the popular Sunday night CBS-TV program What’s My Line?. Hamilton took on the role of Morticia Addams’ mother, Hester Frump, in three episodes of The Addams Family (1965–66), although she had declined the opportunity to portray Grandmama.[citation needed]

In 1962, Hamilton portrayed Leora Scofield, a suffragette advocating for feminist causes in Laramie, Wyoming, in the NBC series Laramie episode “Beyond Justice.”

Following her early stage career in the 1930s, Margaret Hamilton immersed herself in theater after departing Los Angeles. Notable Broadway appearances included starring in the musical Goldilocks opposite Don Ameche and Elaine Stritch, embodying the authoritative Parthy Anne Hawks in the 1966 revival of Show Boat (partnered with David Wayne), and portraying the affectionate Aunt Eller in the 1968 Lincoln Center revival of Oklahoma!. Hamilton also toured extensively in various plays and musicals, even reprising her iconic role as the Wicked Witch in specially adapted stage productions of The Wizard of Oz. Her final stage performance saw her as Madame Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, enchanting audiences with her rendition of “Liaisons” during the national tour alongside Jean Simmons as her daughter Desiree.

Despite her prolific film career, Margaret Hamilton embraced roles across different media platforms, including making her soap opera debut as the conniving Mrs. Sayre on Valiant Lady. In the 1960s, she became a regular on CBS’s The Secret Storm, portraying Grace Tyrell’s housekeeper, Katie. Additionally, she showcased her versatility in ABC’s radio anthology Theatre-Five, portraying the manipulative Aunt Lettie opposite Joan Lorring’s Maude in “Noose of Pearls.” Transitioning to television, Hamilton joined the cast of CBS’s As the World Turns in the early 1970s as Miss Peterson, Simon Gilbey’s assistant. Her diverse roles ranged from the made-for-television film The Night Strangler (1973) to appearances on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976), where she revisited her infamous Wicked Witch persona. Hamilton’s reprisal of the Wicked Witch role in a 1976 episode of Sesame Street garnered mixed reactions, with some parents finding it too frightening for children, prompting Fred Rogers to reassure viewers of her fictional nature in three episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood between 1975 and 1976. Hamilton remained active in acting until 1982, making her final appearances as veteran journalist Thea Taft on Lou Grant in 1979 and 1982.

During the 1970s, Hamilton resided in New York City’s Gramercy Park neighborhood, lending her support to organizations advocating for pet welfare through local and national public-service announcements. She gained widespread recognition as the genial general store owner, Cora, in Maxwell House coffee commercials. Additionally, she guest-starred on the radio revival series CBS Radio Mystery Theater in 1975, portraying the title role in the episode “Triptych for a Witch.”

In 1973, Margaret Hamilton ventured into production with the staging of An Evening with the Bourgeoisie. Her subsequent productions in the mid-1970s included The Three Sisters and House Party, solidifying her multifaceted contributions to the entertainment industry.

Final years and death

Margaret Hamilton’s early experience as an educator fueled a lifelong interest in educational issues. She served on the Beverly Hills Board of Education from 1948 to 1951 and taught Sunday school during the 1950s. Margaret Hamilton resided in Manhattan for most of her adult life and spent summers in a cottage on Cape Island, Southport, Maine. In 1979, she was a guest speaker at a University of Connecticut children’s literature class. Hamilton later relocated to Millbrook, New York. Six months before her passing, she was admitted to a nursing home in Salisbury, Connecticut, where she died of a heart attack on May 16, 1985, at the age of 82. Hamilton’s remains were cremated.

Personal life

Margaret Hamilton was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and honed her talents in children’s theater while being an active member of the Junior League of Cleveland. She made her debut as a “professional entertainer” on December 9, 1929, captivating audiences with a “program of ‘heart rending songs'” at the Charles S. Brooks Theater in the Cleveland Play House. Before fully dedicating herself to acting, Margaret Hamilton parents insisted she attend Wheelock College in Boston, where she later pursued a career as a kindergarten teacher.

In 1931, Hamilton tied the knot with Paul Boynton Meserve, marking the beginning of her journey on the New York City stage. As her acting career flourished, her marriage encountered challenges, ultimately leading to divorce in 1938. Despite the setback, she embraced her role as a single mother, raising her son, Hamilton Wadsworth Meserve, independently. Throughout her life, Hamilton cherished her role as a grandmother to Christopher, Scott, and Margaret, never remarrying after her divorce.

Despite her enchanting portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, which occasionally intimidated children, Margaret Hamilton had a soft spot for youngsters. However, some children, like Sybil Daneman’s nephew, hesitated to meet her, fearing she might embody the menacing character from the movie.

Hamilton maintained a lasting friendship with her Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger, known for his portrayal of the scarecrow. A devoted member of the Presbyterian church, she also actively supported the Republican Party, endorsing Dwight Eisenhower during the 1952 presidential election.

Film and Television

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YearTitleRole
1933Zoo in BudapestAssistant Matron for orphans
Another LanguageHelen Hallam
1934Hat, Coat, and GloveMadame Du Barry
There’s Always TomorrowElla
By Your LeaveWhiffen
Broadway BillEdna
1935The Farmer Takes a WifeLucy Gurget
Way Down EastMartha Perkins
1936ChatterboxEmily ‘Tippie’ Tipton
These ThreeAgatha 
The Moon’s Our HomeMitty Simpson
The Witness ChairGrace Franklin
Laughing at TroubleLizzie Beadle
1937You Only Live OnceHester
When’s Your Birthday?Mossy
The Good Old SoakMinnie
Mountain JusticePhoebe Lamb
SaratogaMaizie
I’ll Take RomanceMargot
Nothing SacredVermont Drugstore Lady
1938The Adventures of Tom SawyerMrs. Harper
A Slight Case of MurderMrs. Cagle
Mother Carey’s ChickensMrs. Pauline Fuller
Four’s a CrowdAmy
Breaking the IceMrs. Small
StablematesBeulah Flanders
1939The Wizard of OzMiss Almira Gulch / The Wicked Witch of the West
The Angels Wash Their FacesMiss Hannaberry
Babes in ArmsMartha Steele
Main Street LawyerLucy, Boggs’ Housekeeper
1940My Little ChickadeeMrs. Gideon
The Villain Still Pursued HerMrs. Wilson
I’m Nobody’s Sweetheart NowMrs. Thriffie
The Invisible WomanMrs. Jackson
1941Play GirlJosie
The Gay VagabondAgatha Badger
1942Twin BedsNorah
Meet the StewartsWillametta
The Affairs of MarthaGuinevere
1943City Without MenDora
The Ox-Bow IncidentMrs. Larch
Johnny Come LatelyMyrtle Ferguson
1944Guest in the HouseHilda – the Maid
1945George White’s ScandalsClarabelle Evans
1946Janie Gets MarriedMrs. Angles
Faithful in My FashionMiss Applegate
1947The Sin of Harold DiddlebockFlora
Dishonored LadyMrs. Geiger
Pet PeevesHaughty Woman
DriftwoodEssie Keenan
1948Reaching from HeavenSophie Manley
State of the UnionNorah
Texas, Brooklyn & HeavenRuby Cheever
Bungalow 13Mrs. Theresa Appleby
1949The Sun Comes UpMrs. Golightly
The Red PonyTeacher
The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful BendMrs. Elvira O’Toole
1950The Great Plane RobberyMrs. Judd
Wabash AvenueTillie Hutch
Riding HighEdna
1951Comin’ Round the MountainAunt Huddy
People Will TalkMiss Sarah Pickett – Housekeeper
196013 GhostsElaine Zacharides
1962The Good YearsNarrator
Paradise AlleyMrs. Nicholson
1966The DaydreamerMrs. Klopplebobbler
1967Rosie!Mae
1969Angel in My PocketRhoda
1970Brewster McCloudDaphne Heap
1971The Anderson TapesMiss Kaler
1972Journey Back to OzAunt Em

Television / TV

YearTitleRole
1950–51The Bigelow TheatreMrs. Greenstreet
1952Gulf PlayhouseGuest
My HeroMrs. Morgan
1953Lux Video TheatreCharity Ames
Ethel and AlbertAunt Eva
Man Against CrimeMrs. Barker
A String of Blue BeadsMrs. Loomis
Man Against CrimeMrs. Parmalee
1954The Campbell PlayhouseGuest
The Best of BroadwaySarah
Center StageGuest
The Elgin HourGwen
1955The Best of BroadwayUsher
Valiant LadyMrs. Sayre
The Devil’s DiscipleMrs. Dudgeon
The Way of the WorldGuest
1957On Borrowed TimeDemetria Riffle
The Phil Silvers ShowMiss Gloria Formby / Hermione Nightengale
1958The Christmas TreeMiss Finch
1959Once Upon a Christmas TimeMiss Scugg
1960Dow Hour of Great MysteriesLizzie Allen
The Secret World of Eddie HodgesMrs. Grundy
1961Ichabod and MeMehitabel Hobbs
1962LaramieLeora Scofield
The Danny Thomas ShowMiss Fenwick
Car 54, Where Are You?Spinster
The Patty Duke ShowThe Lane Family housekeeper
Car 54, Where Are You?Miss Pownthleroy
The Patty Duke ShowMrs. Williams
1964–67The Secret StormKatie
1965–66The Addams FamilyHester Frump
1967GhostbreakersIvy Rumson
1970As the World TurnsMiss Peterson #2
1971Is There a Doctor in the HouseEmma Proctor
1973Sigmund and the Sea MonstersMrs. Eddels
GunsmokeEdsel Pry
The Night StranglerProfessor Crabwell
The Partridge FamilyClara Kincaid
1975–76Mister Rogers’ NeighborhoodHerself / Margaret H. Witch
1976Sesame StreetHerself / Wicked Witch of the West
The Paul Lynde Halloween SpecialThe Wicked Witch of the West
1979Letters from FrankGrandma Miller
1979–82Lou GrantThea Taft
1982Pardon Me For LivingMiss Holderness

Theatre

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