Job Actress * Acting teacher
Years active 1915-1949
Known for Withered, old vaguely-European women with some authority
Top Roles Mme. Karina, Madame von Eln, The Amah, Madame Olga Kirowa, Maleva
Top GenresDrama, Romance, Comedy, Film Adaptation, Adventure, Mystery
Top TopicsBook-Based, Monster, Christmas
Top Collaborators (Director), (Director), , (Director)
Shares birthday with Theda Bara, Clara Bow, William Powell  see more..

Maria Ouspenskaya Overview:

Character actress, Maria Ouspenskaya, was born on Jul 29, 1876 in Tula, Russian Empire [now Russia]. Ouspenskaya died at the age of 73 on Dec 3, 1949 in Los Angeles, CA .


Wizened, beetle-faced Maria Ouspenskaya was a tiny Russian actress who came to America in the early 1930s to set up an acting school in New York. Despite playing a wide range of diminutive dynamos of varying nationalities, film buffs remember her best as the gypsy woman who teaches poor Lon Chaney the werewolf rhyme in "The Wolf Man". She was twice Oscar-nominated -- for her roles in Dodsworth and Love Affair.  She was tragically burned to death in her Los Angeles apartment.  

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Illustrated Dictionary of Film Character Actors).



Although Ouspenskaya was nominated for two Oscars, she never won a competitive Academy Award.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1936Best Supporting ActressDodsworth (1936)Baroness von ObersdorfNominated
1939Best Supporting ActressLove Affair (1939)Grandmother, Mme. MarnayNominated

BlogHub Articles:

Russia in Classic Film blogathon:

By Caftan Woman on Mar 8, 2015 From Caftan Woman

as featured in 1940s Beyond Tomorrow July 29, 1876 - December 3, 1949 The Russia in Classic Film Blogathon is being hosted by Fritzi of Movies, Silently and sponsored by The House of Mystery on DVD by Flicker Alley. This fascinating topic runs from March 8 - 10th. Internatio... Read full article

Supporting Players:

By Amanda Garrett on Feb 4, 2015 From Old Hollywood Films

Russian actress is beloved by generations of horror film fans for her role as the Gypsy woman in The Wolf Man (1941), but for two decades she was one of old Hollywood's most respected character actors. Ouspenskaya was probably born on July 29, 1876, (there are some discrepancies... Read full article

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Maria Ouspenskaya Quotes:

Maharani: [Major Safti has just been handed an important note] What is it, Major?
Major Rama Safti: It has come sooner than I expected: several cases of the plague in the Sweepers Quarters. On top of that, half the water in Ranchipur must be polluted.
Maharani: Do what you can to keep the plague from spreading. Burn down the whole Quarter if you must.

Maharani: What is Lady Esketh doing at the hospital?
Thomas 'Tom' Ransome: Every conceivable filthy and drudging task.
Maharani: Yes, I suppose Miss MacDaid would have seen to that.

Madame Marie von Eln: Don't cry, Anna, for me. It will be worse for him. My troubles are almost over and his are just beginning. Growing up is so difficult, Anna. The disappointments and the heartbreaks, the frightening problems, the menaces and cruelties of the world. How often have I wished that his mother will live or his father, or that I were his mother! It isn't fair that a young boy should be brought up by an old woman who will leave him when he needs her most.

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Also a Leo

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Best Supporting Actress Oscar 1936

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Maria Ouspenskaya Facts
Co-founder of the American Laboratory Theater with the Polish actor/film director Richard Boleslawski, she was the first Russian actor from the Moscow Art Theatre to teach the Stanislavski Method in the United States. Her methods greatly influenced her young students Lee Strasberg and Harold Clurman, founders the Group Theater (1931-1940). Strasberg first practiced his very personal variation of the system, now known as "The Method," with the Group actors Stella Adler, Luther Adler, Sanford Meisner, Elia Kazan, Clifford Odets, Franchot Tone, Morris Carnovsky, John Garfield and Robert Lewis. Adler went on to teach Marlon Brando; Meisner taught Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton; Lewis taught Meryl Streep. What the world knows as the psychologically realistic American acting style can be traced

She died of a stroke three days after a lit cigarette set fire to her bed.

An actor/instructor with Konstantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre beginning in 1911, she toured throughout Europe during the Communist Revolution and appeared in over 100 plays. When the company departed for Moscow after a tour in the United States, she remained behind.

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