Beulah Bondi was an American actress. Bondi began her acting career as a young child in theatre, and after establishing herself as a stage actress, reprised her role in Street Scene for the 1931 film version. She played supporting roles in several films during the 1930s, and was twice nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She played the mother of James Stewart in four films, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life. She continued acting into her old age, and won an Emmy Award for an appearance in the television series The Waltons in 1976.
Bondi was born as Beulah Bondy in Valparaiso, Indiana, the daughter of Eva and Adolphe Bondy. Bondi began her acting career on the stage at age 7, playing the title role in the play Little Lord Fauntleroy in a production at the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso, Indiana. She gained her Bachelors and Masters degrees in oratory at Valparaiso University in 1916 and 1918, and moved to film in the 1930s. Her debut movie role was as “Emma Jones” in Elmer Rice’s Street Scene, which starred Sylvia Sidney, and in which Bondi reprised her stage role, followed by “Mrs. Davidson” in Rain, which starred Joan Crawford and Walter Huston.
She was one of the first five women to be nominated for an Academy Award in the newly-created category of “Best Supporting Actress” for her work in The Gorgeous Hussy, although she lost the award to Gale Sondergaard. Two years later, she was nominated again for Of Human Hearts, and lost again, but her reputation as a character actress kept her employed.