Mildred Natwick (June 19, 1905 – October 25, 1994) was an American stage and film actress.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born to Joseph and Mildred Marion Dawes Natwick. She graduated from the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore. After graduating from Bennett College with a degree in theater arts, Mildred Natwick toured with a number of stage productions before her firstBroadway production, Carry Nation.
Her grandfather, Ole Natwick, was one of the earliest Norwegian immigrants to the United States, arriving in Wisconsin in 1847. He had eleven children in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin, including Joseph, who was her father. Mildred was the first cousin of Myron 'Grim' Natwick, the creator of theBetty Boop cartoon character for the Fleischer Studios, and the primary animator of Snow White for Walt Disney Studios.
She began performing at age 21 with the Vagabonds, a nonprofessional group in Baltimore. She soon joined the celebrated University Players on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Throughout the 1930s she starred in a number of plays, frequently collaborating with friend and actor-director-playwright Joshua Logan. On Broadway, she played the role of Prossy in theatrical actress Katharine Cornell's production of Candida. Natwick made her film debut in John Ford's The Long Voyage Home as a cockney prostitute, and she movingly portrayed the landlady in The Enchanted Cottage(1945).
Natwick is remembered for small but memorable roles in several John Ford classics, including 3 Godfathers (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1948), and The Quiet Man (1952), as the sheltered widow Mrs. Tillane. The character actress was often given one-scene parts or shallow roles which she transcended with her personality and talent, such as her role as a birth control advocate in the comedy Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), old maid Miss Ivy Gravely in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955), and a sorceress in The Court Jester (1956). She had a lead role in Alfred Hitchcock Presents (episode 18 season 3, "Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty"(First Aired: Feb. 02, 1958).An elderly maid (Mildred Natwick) leaves the parsonage in search of excitement and adventure in Paris.
Natwick continued to appear on the stage, and made regular guest appearances in television series. She was twice nominated for Tony Awards: in 1957 for The Waltz of the Toreadors, and in 1972 for the musical 70 Girls 70. She returned to film with Barefoot in the Park (1967) as Jane Fonda's mother. The role earned Natwick her first and only Academy Award nomination.
One of Natwick's memorable roles was that of Addie Mills' grandmother in the 1972 CBS-TV Emmy-winning holiday special, The House Without a Christmas Tree, which also starred Jason Robards as James Mills and Lisa Lucas as Addie. The success of that program spawned three sequels – The Thanksgiving Treasure, The Easter Promise, and Addie and The King of Hearts, with Natwick, Robards, and Lucas reprising their roles. Natwick is also fondly remembered as the rather British "Nanny" in Eloise.
In 1971, Natwick co-starred with the legendary actress Helen Hayes in the ABC television movie Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate, in which their characters worked together as amateur sleuths. This may have inspired a television movie called The Snoop Sisters, starring Natwick and Hayes as two elderly sisters who routinely stumbled across mysteries which they solved. The success of that telefilm resulted in a 1973-74 series, also called The Snoop Sisters, which was part of The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie. For her performance, Natwick won the Emmy Award as Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series. Natwick later joined Miss Hayes as the first members of the Board of Advisors to the Riverside Shakespeare Company during its formative years, attending and supporting several fund raisers for that Off Broadway theatre company.
She guest-starred as Rock Hudson's eccentric mother in McMillan & Wife and also had a prominent guest appearance in the first season of Family, playing a grandmother who makes a final visit to her family to prepare them for her death. Her final role was in the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons. Natwick died of cancer at age 89 in New York City.