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Lucille La Verne

Lucille La Verne
Personal information
Birth dateNovember 7, 1872
Place of birthNashville, Tennessee, United States
Date of deathMarch 4, 1945(age 72)
Death placeCulver City, California, United States
Resting placeInglewood Park Cemetery, United States
Years active1888-1937

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Lucille La Verne (November 7, 1872 March 4, 1945) was an American actress known for her appearances in silent, scolding, and vengeful roles in early color films, as well as for her triumphs on the American stage.

La Verne was born in Nashville, Tennessee. She began her career as a child in local summer stock. As a teenager, she performed in small touring theater troupes. When she was fourteen she played both Juliet and Lady Macbeth back to back. Her ability to play almost any part quickly caught the attention of more prolific companies, and she made her Broadway debut in 1888. She then became a leading lady with some of the best stock companies in America, scoring triumphs in San Francisco and Boston among other cities. She eventually ran her own successful stock company.

On the New York stage, she was known for her range and versatility. Among her hits on Broadway were principal roles in Uncle Tom's Cabin, Seven Days and Way Down East. She was also known for her blackface roles. Her biggest stage triumph came in 1923, when she created the role of Widow Caggle in the hit play Sun Up. Between the Broadway run, US tour, and European tour, La Verne would give over 3,000 performances. She also worked on Broadway as a playwright and director. In the late 1920s, a Broadway theater was named for her for a short period of time.

She made her motion picture debut in 1914. Her best known part is that of the voice of the Wicked Queen, and her alter ego, the old crone from Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was also the Disney artists' model for the old crone that the Queen transforms herself into in order to give Snow White the poisoned apple. (Her resemblance to the crone can be noted in Little Caesar (1931), in which Ms. La Verne plays Ma Magdelena, as well as MGM's film version of Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, in which she plays a confederate of Madame Defarge called The Vengeance.) She died in Culver City, California, after suffering from cancer. Her interment was located at Inglewood Park Cemetery.

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