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)
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"