Jane Darwell

Jane Darwell


Also Known As
Patti Woodward
Birth Place
Palmyra, Missouri, USA
October 15, 1879
August 13, 1967
Cause of Death
Heart Attack


A heavy-set character player with a hearty voice and a slightly worried expression, Jane Darwell was often cast in matronly roles. Although she played a wide variety of roles (including an unsympathetic part as one of the lynchers in the memorable "The Ox-Bow Incident" 1943) in a career spanning well over 100 credits from the early 1930s through the mid-60s, she was most typically seen a...

Photos & Videos

The Grapes of Wrath - Movie Posters
Wagon Master - Scene Stills
All Through the Night - Scene Stills


A heavy-set character player with a hearty voice and a slightly worried expression, Jane Darwell was often cast in matronly roles. Although she played a wide variety of roles (including an unsympathetic part as one of the lynchers in the memorable "The Ox-Bow Incident" 1943) in a career spanning well over 100 credits from the early 1930s through the mid-60s, she was most typically seen as concerned, warm-hearted mothers. For many fans, Darwell will always be remembered for her towering, Oscar-winning performance as Ma Joad in John Ford's stirring adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940). One of her last screen appearances was as an elderly woman seen tossing crumbs to the pigeons while Julie Andrews warbled "Feed the Birds" in "Mary Poppins" (1964).



Cast (Feature Film)

Mary Poppins (1964)
The Bird Woman
Hound-Dog Man (1959)
Grandma Wilson
The Last Hurrah (1958)
Delia Boylan
There's Always Tomorrow (1956)
Mrs. Rogers
Girls in Prison (1956)
Matron Jamieson
Hit the Deck (1955)
A Life at Stake (1955)
Mrs. Piltz
The Sun Shines Bright (1953)
Mrs. Aurora Ratchitt
It Happens Every Thursday (1953)
Mrs. [Eve] Spatch
Affair with a Stranger (1953)
Ma Stanton
The Bigamist (1953)
Mrs. Connelley
We're Not Married! (1952)
Mrs. Bush
Journey into Light (1951)
The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)
Nellie Thursday
Excuse My Dust (1951)
Mrs. Belden
Three Husbands (1950)
The Wife [Mrs. Wurdeman]
Caged (1950)
Isolation matron
The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (1950)
Mrs. Murphy
The Second Face (1950)
Mrs. Lockridge
Surrender (1950)
Mrs. Hale
Wagon Master (1950)
Sister Ledyard
Redwood Forest Trail (1950)
Hattie Hickory
Father's Wild Game (1950)
Minerva Bobbin
3 Godfathers (1949)
Miss Florie
Red Canyon (1949)
Aunt Jane
Train to Alcatraz (1948)
Aunt Ella
The Red Stallion (1947)
Grandma Aggie Curtis
Keeper of the Bees (1947)
Mrs. Ferris
My Darling Clementine (1946)
Three Wise Fools (1946)
Sister Mary Brigid
The Dark Horse (1946)
Aunt Hattie
Captain Tugboat Annie (1945)
Tugboat Annie Brennan
Government Girl (1944)
Miss Trask
Sunday Dinner for a Soldier (1944)
Mrs. Helen Dobson
The Impatient Years (1944)
Minister's wife
Tender Comrade (1944)
Mrs. Henderson
Reckless Age (1944)
Mrs. Connors
She's a Sweetheart (1944)
Music in Manhattan (1944)
Mrs. Pearson
Stage Door Canteen (1943)
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Jenny "Ma" Grier
Gildersleeve's Bad Day (1943)
Aunt Emma
Men of Texas (1942)
Mrs. Scott [also known as Aunt Hattie Florence]
It Happened in Flatbush (1942)
Mrs. Maguire
Young America (1942)
Grandma [Nora] Campbell
On the Sunny Side (1942)
The Great Gildersleeve (1942)
Aunt Emma
Highways by Night (1942)
All Through the Night (1942)
Mrs. Donahue
The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942)
Mrs. [Mariah] Clemm
Small Town Deb (1941)
Private Nurse (1941)
Miss Adams
Thieves Fall Out (1941)
Grandma [Emma] Allen
All That Money Can Buy (1941)
Ma Stone
Brigham Young--Frontiersman (1940)
Eliza Kent
Untamed (1940)
Mrs. Maggie Moriarty
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Ma Joad
Youth Will Be Served (1940)
Supervisor Stormer
Chad Hanna (1940)
Mrs. [Bettina] Huguenine
Jesse James (1939)
Mrs. Samuels
The Rains Came (1939)
Aunt Phoebe
Inside Story (1939)
Aunt Mary Perkins
The Zero Hour (1939)
Miracle on Main Street (1939)
Mrs. Herman
Grand Jury Secrets (1939)
Mrs. Keefe
Unexpected Father (1939)
Mrs. Callahan
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Mrs. Merriwether
Five of a Kind (1938)
Mrs. Waldron
Up the River (1938)
Mrs. Graham
Three Blind Mice (1938)
Mrs. Kilian
Little Miss Broadway (1938)
Miss Hutchins
Battle of Broadway (1938)
Mrs. Rogers
Time Out for Murder (1938)
Change of Heart (1938)
Mrs. Thompson
The Jury's Secret (1938)
Mrs. Sheldon
Nancy Steele Is Missing! (1937)
Mrs. [Mary] Flaherty
Love Is News (1937)
Mrs. Flaherty
Slave Ship (1937)
Mrs. Marlowe
The Singing Marine (1937)
Ma Marine
The Great Hospital Mystery (1937)
Miss Keats
Dangerously Yours (1937)
Aunt Cynthia Barton
Fifty Roads to Town (1937)
Mrs. Henry
Wife, Doctor and Nurse (1937)
Mrs. Krueger
Private Number (1936)
Mrs. Meecham
The Country Doctor (1936)
Mrs. Graham
Poor Little Rich Girl (1936)
Captain January (1936)
Eliza Croft
White Fang (1936)
Maud Mahoney
Ramona (1936)
Aunt Ri Hyar
Little Miss Nobody (1936)
[Mrs.] Martha Bradley
Star for a Night (1936)
Mrs. [Martha] Lind
Laughing at Trouble (1936)
Glory Bradford
Paddy O'Day (1936)
Craig's Wife (1936)
Mrs. Harrold
The First Baby (1936)
Mrs. Ellis
We're Only Human (1935)
Mrs. Walsh
Life Begins at 40 (1935)
Ida Harris
Navy Wife (1935)
Mrs. [Louise] Keats
McFadden's Flats (1935)
Nora McFadden
Curly Top (1935)
Mrs. [Henrietta] Denham
One More Spring (1935)
Mrs. Sweeney
Metropolitan (1935)
Jimmy the Gent (1934)
Wonder Bar (1934)
Buxon Grand Dame
Heat Lightning (1934)
The wife
Embarrassing Moments (1934)
Rich woman
One Night of Love (1934)
Mary's mother
The White Parade (1934)
Sailor [Roberts]
Tomorrow's Youth (1934)
Mary O'Brien
Most Precious Thing in Life (1934)
Mrs. O'Day
Blind Date (1934)
Ma Taylor
Bright Eyes (1934)
Mrs. [Elizabeth] Higgins
Once to Every Woman (1934)
Mrs. Wood
Let's Talk It Over (1934)
Mrs. O'Keefe
Finishing School (1934)
Happiness Ahead (1934)
David Harum (1934)
Mrs. Woolsey
Million Dollar Ransom (1934)
Mom McGarry
Change of Heart (1934)
Mrs. McGowan
Wake Up and Dream (1934)
The Firebird (1934)
Mrs. Miller
Gentlemen Are Born (1934)
The Scarlet Empress (1934)
Mlle. Cardell
Desirable (1934)
Journal of a Crime (1934)
Large woman
Fashions of 1934 (1934)
Emergency Call (1933)
Miss Brown
Only Yesterday (1933)
Mrs. Lane
Before Dawn (1933)
Mrs. Marble
Bed of Roses (1933)
Head prison matron
Child of Manhattan (1933)
Mrs. McGonagle
Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men (1933)
Design for Living (1933)
He Couldn't Take It (1933)
Mrs. Case
One Sunday Afternoon (1933)
Mrs. Lind
Air Hostess (1933)
Ma Kearns
Bondage (1933)
Mrs. [Elizabeth] Wharton
Ann Vickers (1933)
Mrs. Gage
Women Won't Tell (1933)
Roman Scandals (1933)
Women's baths attendant
Jennie Gerhardt (1933)
Boardinghouse keeper
Back Street (1932)
Mrs. Schmidt
Hot Saturday (1932)
Mrs. [Ida] Brock
Huckleberry Finn (1931)
Widow Douglas
Ladies of the Big House (1931)
Mrs. Turner
Tom Sawyer (1930)
Widow Douglass
The Goose Girl (1915)
The Reform Candidate (1915)
Mrs. Haggerty
The Rug Maker's Daughter (1915)
Mrs. Van Buren
After Five (1915)
Mrs. Russell, "Aunt Diddy"
The Man on the Box (1914)
Mrs. Chadwick
Rose of the Rancho (1914)
SeƱora Castro-Kenton
The Master Mind (1914)
Milwaukee Sadie
Ready Money (1914)
Mrs. Tyler
The Only Son (1914)
Mrs. Brainerd
The Capture of Aguinaldo (1913)

Life Events


Made stage debut


Made film acting debut at age 33 in the silent "Head Hunters"


Acted in Cecil B DeMille's "Rose of the Rancho" and "The Only Son"


Starred in the suspenseful silent "The Master Mind"


Last film for 15 years, "The Goose Girl"


Played the kindhearted Widow Douglas alongside Jackie Coogan's "Tom Sawyer"


Reprised role of Widow Douglas in the follow up "Huckleberry Finn"


Was featured alongside Shirley Temple in "Bright Eyes" and "Change of Heart"


Co-starred with Temple as a matchmaking matron in "Curly Top"


Featured in the Shirley Temple films "Captain January" and "The Poor Little Rich Girl"


Final collaboration with Temple, "Little Miss Broadway"


Had a featured role as the strong-willed, ill-fated mother of "Jesse James"


Acted in "Gone With the Wind"


Played the indomitable Ma Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath"; won Best Supporting Actress Oscar


Featured in "The Devil and Daniel Webster"


Gave a powerful performance as one of the lynchers in "The Ox-Bow Incident"


Played the titular skipper in "Captain Tugboat Annie"


Reteamed with John Ford and Henry Fonda in the western "My Darling Clementine"


Played the isolation matron in John Cromwell's women in prison drama "Caged", starring Eleanor Parker


Had a featured guest role in the TV series "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" (ABC)


Reteamed with John Carradine and John Ford on "The Last Hurrah"


Final screen role, the beloved Bird Woman in "Mary Poppins"

Photo Collections

The Grapes of Wrath - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release American movie posters for The Grapes of Wrath (1940), starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford.
Wagon Master - Scene Stills
Here are a few scene stills from John Ford's Wagon Master (1950), starring Ward Bond.
All Through the Night - Scene Stills
Here are several scene stills from Warner Bros' All Through the Night (1942), starring Humphrey Bogart, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre, and Jane Darwell.


Movie Clip

Gildersleeve's Bad Day (1943) -- (Movie Clip) A Man Who Don't Like Ducks Through contrivance by niece and nephew Margie and Leroy (Nancy Gates, Freddie Mercer), title character “Uncle Morty” (Harold Peary) and the jury are dining at his place, Birdie and aunt Emma (Lillian Randolph, Jane Darwell) serving, Alex Christy the bailiff, Richard LeGrand as Peavy, and semi-crooked George (Harold Landon) on the phone, in GIlderseeve’s Bad Day, 1943.
Great Gildersleeve, The (1942) -- (Movie Clip) Saves Rubber And Gas! Headed to the train to pick up Aunt Emma (Jane Darwell) to help convince the court he can take care of the kids, the title character (Harold Peary) finds Leroy (Freddie Mercer) has wasted the gas, and Birdie (Lillian Randolph) can’t help, but there’s another vehicle handy, in The Great Gildersleeve, 1942.
Little Miss Broadway (1938) -- (Movie Clip) Be Optimistic Opening with Shirley Temple replacing the youngest of the Brian Sisters trio, with a tune by Harold Spina and Walter Bullock, then Jane Darwell confirming her usual status as an orphan, in this case just being adopted, in Little Miss Broadway, 1938, featuring George Murphy and Jimmy Durante.
Devil And Daniel Webster, The (1941) -- (Movie Clip) You're Not Dorothy The tantalizing Belle (Simone Simon) appears to Jabez (James Craig) at the birth of his first child then visits mother Mary (Ann Shirley) and Ma Stone (Jane Darwell) in The Devil And Daniel Webster, 1941.
Devil And Daniel Webster, The (1941) -- (Movie Clip) Opening, It Could Even Happen To You The famously unusual opening credits for William Dieterle's The Devil And Daniel Webster, 1941, also known as All That Money Can Buy, from a story by Stephen Vincent Benet.
Caged (1950) -- (Movie Clip) I'm On The Last Lap Bad news from the infirmary nurse (Eileen Stevens) as new inmate Marie (Eleanor Parker) is led to isolation where she meets another nurse (Jane Darwell) and a dying roommate (June Whipple) in John Cromwell's Caged, 1950.
Caged (1950) -- (Movie Clip) Open, Pile Out You Tramps! Opening sequence is in the wagon carrying Marie (Eleanor Parker), Emma (Ellen Corby) and friends to prison, from director John Cromwell's seminal women-in-prison drama Caged, 1950.
Scarlet Empress, The (1934) -- (Movie Clip) Open, A Little Princess Credits and opening from Josef von Sternberg's 1934 Marlene Dietrich vehicle The Scarlet Empress, with Dietrich's daughter, Maria Sieber (billed as Maria Riva) as the young Catherine the Great, C. Aubrey Smith and Olive Tell her Prussian parents, Jane Darwell and Clyde David as servants.
Wagon Master (1950) -- (Movie Clip) They Was Invited Out The Mormon wagon train led by Elder Wiggs (Ward Bond) finds common cause with the members of a bereft medicine show (Joanne Dru, Alan Mowbray, Ruth Clifford), Travis (Ben Johnson) and Sister Ledyard (Jane Darwell) adding opinions, in John Ford's Wagon Master, 1950.
Craig's Wife (1936) -- (Movie Clip) Open, House Isn't The Same The domestic staff (Jane Darwell and Nydia Westmond) are introduced along with Walter (John Boles), Ellen (Alma Kruger) and neighbor Mrs. Frazier (Billie Burke) in Dorothy Arzner's 1936 version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Craig's Wife, starring Rosalind Russell.
Craig's Wife (1936) -- (Movie Clip) What's The Matter? In the original version of the better-known re-make (Harriet Craig, 1950), Harriet (Rosalind Russell) re-takes command of her house and servants Nydia Westman and Jane Darwell, after a trip out of town, in Craig's Wife, 1936.
Grapes Of Wrath, The (1940) -- (Movie Clip) Can't Keep A Joad In Jail Paroled Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) finally finds his family, Grandma and Grandpa (Zeffie Tilbury, Charley Grapewin) tangling, Pa (Russell Simpson) suggesting California, Ma (Jane Darwell) the first to notice, camera by Gregg Toland, in John Ford's The Grapes Of Wrath, 1940, from the Steinbeck novel.


Three Wise Fools - (Original Trailer) An orphan girl (Margaret O'Brien) melts the hearts of three crusty old men (Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, Edward Arnold).
Singing Marine, The - (Original Trailer) A young Marine (Dick Powell) develops an inflated ego after winning a talent contest in The Singing Marine (1937), the movie that gave the U.S. Marines their theme song.
Grapes of Wrath, The - (Original Trailer) Henry Fonda stars in John Ford's movie version of the John Steinbeck novel about Depression-era migrants, The Grapes of Wrath (1940).
Firebird, The - (Original Trailer) A young girl's secret romance is exposed when her lover is murdered in The Firebird (1934) starring Ricardo Cortez.
Desirable - (Original Trailer) An aging actress tries to keep her teen-aged daughter out of the public eye in Desirable (1934).
Daughter of Rosie O'Grady, The - (Original Trailer) Against her widowed father's wishes, a vaudeville star's daughter takes to the stage in The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (1950).
Gone With the Wind (1939) -- (1961 Re-Issue Trailer) Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) fights to save her beloved plantation and find love during the Civil War in Gone With the Wind (1939).
Music in Manhattan - (Original Trailer) An actress's publicist starts a rumor that she's a war hero's secret bride in Music in Manhattan (1944).
Excuse My Dust - (Original Trailer) Red Skelton stars as a turn-of-the-century automobile inventor in the Technicolor comedy Excuse My Dust (1951).
All Through the Night - (Original Trailer) A criminal gang turns patriotic to track down a Nazi spy ring in All Through the Night (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre.
Fashions of 1934 - (Original Trailer) Con artist William Powell and his beautiful assistant Bette Davis take on the Fashions of 1934 (1934) with musical numbers by Busby Berkeley.
Thieves Fall Out - (Original Trailer) A young man (Eddie Albert) tries to rescue his grandmother (Jane Darwell) from kidnappers in the comedy Thieves Fall Out (1941).