Emma Dunn

Emma Dunn
Dunn in 1911
Born(1875-02-26)26 February 1875
Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Died14 December 1966(1966-12-14) (aged 91)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1902–1948
Harry Beresford ​ ​(m. 1897; div. 1909)​
John W. Stokes ​ ​(m. 1909; died 1931)​

Emma Dunn (26 February 1875 – 14 December 1966) was an English actress. After starting her acting career on stage in London, she became known for her works in numerous films and Broadway productions.


Emma Dunn, star of The Governor's Lady (1912)

Emma Dunn appeared onstage in her early teens, graduating to the London stage for several years and later became a noted Broadway actress. She appeared in the first American production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt (1906) with Richard Mansfield as Peer. She played Peer's mother, Ase, even though she was, in real life, 20 years younger than Mansfield. She appeared in three productions for theatre impresario David Belasco: The Warrens of Virginia (1907), The Easiest Way (1909) and The Governor's Lady (1912). In The Easiest Way, Dunn portrayed Annie, who was black, in blackface. In 1913 Dunn appeared in vaudeville.

Dunn made her first film in 1914, a silent film of her 1910 stage success, Mother, directed by Maurice Tourneur. This was Tourneur's first American film. Dunn's second film was 1920's Old Lady 31, reprising the role she played in the 1916 Broadway play of the same name. One more silent film followed in 1924, Pied Piper Malone, and then she made her sound debut in Side Street, co-starring the Moore brothers, Matt, Owen and Tom as her sons.

Dunn wrote two books on elocution and speech: Thought Quality in the Voice (1933) and You Can Do It (1947).

Personal life

Emma Dunn with daughters Helen (left) and Dorothy (1915)

Emma Dunn was born 26 February 1875, in Birkenhead, England, although she sometimes gave her year of birth as 1883.

Dunn married Harry Beresford, an actor who was then known professionally as Harry J. Morgan, in Chicago on 4 October 1897. They divorced on 10 February 1909, in New York City. She was awarded sole custody of their young daughter, Dorothy. On 19 May 1909, Dunn married John W. Stokes (John W. S. Sullivan), an actor, playwright and theatrical manager. They subsequently adopted a second daughter, Helen. The couple divorced sometime between 1923 and Stokes' death in 1931.

After suffering a heart attack some months before, Dunn died 14 December 1966 in Los Angeles, California, aged 91.

Theatre credits

Date Title Role Notes
30 November – 6 December 1902 The Wrong Mr. Wright Tillie Bird National tour beginning at Morosco's Burbank Theatre, Los Angeles
8 January – January 1906 The Redemption of David Corson Majestic Theatre, New York City
28 October 1906 – January 1907 Peer Gynt Ase Grand Opera House, Chicago
25 February – 23 March 1907 Peer Gynt Ase New Amsterdam Theatre, New York City
3 December 1907 – October 1908 The Warrens of Virginia Mrs. Warren Belasco Theatre, Stuyvesant Theatre, New York City
19 January – June 1909 The Easiest Way Annie Stuyvesant Theatre, New York City
7 September – 31 December 1910 Mother Mrs. Katherine Wetherill Hackett Theatre, Criterion Theatre, New York City
10 September 1912 – January 1913 The Governor's Lady Mary Slade Theatre Republic, New York City
7 January – July 1915 Sinners Mrs. Horton Playhouse Theatre, New York City
30 October 1916 – March 1917 Old Lady 31 Angie 38th Street Theatre, New York City
16 August – 10 September 1921 Sonny Mrs. Crosby Cort Theatre, New York City
24 November 1924 – January 1925 Dawn Mary Slayton Sam H. Harris Theatre, New York City
24 November 1925 – 19?? Rip Van Winkle Gretchen Boston Repertory Theatre, Boston
January 1927 Junk Old Sal Garrick Theatre, New York City


Advertisement for Mother (1914)
Year Title Role Notes
1914 Mother Mrs. Wetherell
1920 Old Lady 31 Angie Rose
1924 Pied Piper Malone Mother Malone
1929 Side Street Mrs. O'Farrell
1930 Manslaughter Miss Bennett
1931 Bad Sister Mrs. Madison
Compromised Mrs. Squires
The Guilty Generation Nina
Morals for Women Mrs. Hutson
The Prodigal Mrs. Cynthia Farraday
The Texan Señora Ibarra
This Modern Age Mrs. Blake
Too Young to Marry Jennie Bumpsted
Under Eighteen Mrs. Evans
1932 Blessed Event Mrs. Roberts
Broken Lullaby Mrs. Miller
The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood Mrs. Sarah Cohen
Hell's House Emma Clark
It's Tough to Be Famous "Moms" McClenahan
Letty Lynton Mrs. Darrow
The Wet Parade Mrs. Sally Chilcote
When a Feller Needs a Friend Kind lady
1933 Elmer, the Great Mrs. Kane
Grand Slam Sob sister
Hard to Handle Mrs. Hawks
It's Great to Be Alive Mrs. Wilton
A Man of Sentiment Mrs. Russell
Private Jones Mrs. Jones
1934 Dark Hazard Mrs. Mayhew
Dr. Monica Mrs. Monahan
Flirtation Mrs. Poole
The Quitter Cordelia Tilford
1935 Another Face Sheila's mother
The Crusades Mother of Alan
George White's 1935 Scandals Aunt Jane
The Glass Key "Mom"
The Keeper of the Bees Margaret Campbell
Ladies Crave Excitement Mary Phelan
Little Big Shot Matron
Seven Keys to Baldpate Mrs. Quimby
This Is the Life Mrs. Davis
1936 The Harvester Granny Moreland
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Mrs. Meredith, Deed's housekeeper Uncredited
Second Wife Mrs. Brown
1937 Circus Girl Molly
The Emperor's Candlesticks Housekeeper
Madame X Rose
Varsity Show Mrs. Smith
Waikiki Wedding Old woman
When You're in Love Mrs. Hamilton
1938 The Cowboy and the Lady Ma Hawkins
Cowboy from Brooklyn Ma Hardy
The Crowd Roars Laura McCoy
The Duke of West Point Mrs. West
Lord Jeff Mrs. Briggs
Thanks for the Memory Mrs. Platt
Three Loves Has Nancy Mrs. Briggs
Young Dr. Kildare Martha Kildare
1939 Calling Dr. Kildare Martha Kildare
Each Dawn I Die Mrs. Ross
Hero for a Day "Mom" Higgins
The Llano Kid Dona Teresa
The Secret of Dr. Kildare Martha Kildare
Son of Frankenstein Amelia
1940 Dance, Girl, Dance Mrs. Simpson
Dr. Kildare Goes Home Martha Kildare
Dr. Kildare's Crisis Martha Kildare
Dr. Kildare's Strange Case Martha Kildare
The Great Dictator Mrs. Jaeckel
Half a Sinner Granny Gladden
High School Mrs. O'Neill
Little Orvie Mrs. Welty
One Crowded Night Ma
Yesterday's Heroes Aunt Winnie
You Can't Fool Your Wife Mrs. Fields
1941 Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day Martha Kildare
Ladies in Retirement Sister Theresa
Mr. & Mrs. Smith Martha
The Monster and the Girl Aunt Della
The Penalty "Ma" McCormick
Rise and Shine Mrs. Murray
Scattergood Baines Mirandy Baines
Scattergood Meets Broadway Mirandy Baines
Scattergood Pulls the Strings Mirandy Baines
1942 Babes on Broadway Mrs. Williams
I Married a Witch Wife of the justice of the peace
The Mad Martindales Agnes
The Postman Didn't Ring Martha Carter
The Talk of the Town Mrs. Shelley
When Johnny Comes Marching Home Nora Flanagan
1943 The Cross of Lorraine Mme. Marchand
Hoosier Holiday Molly Baker
Minesweeper Mom
The North Star Old lady
1944 Are These Our Parents? Ma Henderson
The Bridge of San Luis Rey Dona Mercedes
Irish Eyes Are Smiling Mother Machree
It Happened Tomorrow Mrs. Keever
My Buddy Mary Ballinger
1945 The Horn Blows at Midnight Mrs. Smith
The Hoodlum Saint Maggie
1946 Night Train to Memphis Mom Acuff
1947 Life with Father Margaret, the cook
Mourning Becomes Electra Mrs. Borden
1948 The Woman in White Mrs. Vesey


  1. ^ "Emma Dunn in Vaudeville; Appears at the 5th Avenue in New Sketch" (PDF). New York Times. 10 June 1913. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  2. ^ Dunn, Emma (1933). Thought Quality in the Voice. Hollywood: Ferger. OCLC 7131895.
  3. ^ Dunn, Emma (1947). You Can Do It. Agoura, California: Industrial Arts Press. OCLC 4447617.
  4. ^ Who Was Who in the Theatre, 1912–1976. Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1978. p. 720. ISBN 9780810304062.
  5. ^ a b c "Emma Dunn Stokes", National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 2 January 1906 – 31 March 1925; Roll #: 2321; Volume #: Roll 2321 - Certificates: 317850-318349, 29 June 1923 – 30 June 1923. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007; retrieved 16 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Emma D. Stokes". Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1915 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012; retrieved 16 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Emma Beresford". Year: 1905; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 0611; Line: 4; Page Number: 59. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010; retrieved 17 April 2016.
  8. ^ Fidler, Jimmie (10 August 1936). "Hollywood Shots". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Harry J. Morgan". Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011; retrieved 19 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Emma D. Morgan". Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage Index 1866-1937 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014; retrieved 17 April 2016.
  11. ^ "John Wickliffe Stokes". Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005; retrieved 17 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Emma Dunn as a Real Mother". The Green Book Magazine. January 1916. p. 103. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  13. ^ Ancestry.com. "John W. Stokes", South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1961 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008; retrieved 17 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Actress Dies at 91". Kenosha News. 19 December 1966.
  15. ^ "Character Actress' Rites Held". The Bakersfield Californian. 22 December 1966.
  16. ^ "At the Theatres". The Capital. Los Angeles: The Capital Publishing Company. 1902. p. 6. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  17. ^ "In the Theatres". Spokane Daily Chronicle. 22 January 1903. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  18. ^ "The Redemption of David Corson". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  19. ^ "'Peer Gynt' in English Put on by Mansfield". The New York Times. 30 October 1906. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Mansfield Falls Out with Actress". The New York Times. 24 January 1907. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Peer Gynt". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  22. ^ "Mansfield Seen in Ibsen's Peer Gynt". The New York Times. 26 February 1907. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  23. ^ "The Warrens of Virginia". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  24. ^ "The Easiest Way". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  25. ^ "Mother". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Mother's' Woes Win Tears at Hackett". The New York Times. 8 September 1910. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  27. ^ "The Governor's Lady". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  28. ^ "Sinners". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  29. ^ "'Sinners' is Given at the Playhouse". The New York Times. 8 January 1915. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  30. ^ "Old Lady 31". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  31. ^ "'Old Lady 31' A Play Full of Laughter". The New York Times. 31 October 1916. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  32. ^ "Sonny". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  33. ^ "Dawn". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  34. ^ "Francis Wilson as Rip Van Winkle". The New York Times. 24 November 1925. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  35. ^ "Junk". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da "Emma Dunn profile". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 17 April 2016.

External links

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