Katie Johnson

Katie Johnson

Birthday: November 18, 1878
Born Place: Clayton, West Sussex, England, UK
Birth Name: Bessie Kate Johnson
Height: 5' 3½" (1.61 m)

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British character actress, on stage from 1894. Her many notable theatrical appearances include “Little Lord Fauntleroy” at the Prince’s Theatre in Bristol, and, as Lady McClean, in “Escape Me Never” at the Apollo in London (1933) – a part she subsequently took to Broadway two years later. Until well into her seventies, Katie’s screen career consisted almost exclusively of smallish parts, until she was cast as sweet, frail Mrs. Wilberforce in the classic Ealing comedy The Ladykillers (1955). A most quintessentially British role, it finds her in a crumbling boarding house with dodgy plumbing, surrounded by Victorian memorabilia, a parrot named General Gordon, and an assortment of genteel, but pixillated, old friends. Her innocence and moral fortitude ultimately precipitate the downfall of a gang of bank robbers, posing as a string quartet.

This was the defining role of Katie’s career and it won her the 1955 BAFTA Award as Best Actress. She had another juicy role, as eavesdropping would-be sleuth Aunt Alice, in How to Murder a Rich Uncle (1957). Sadly, there was to be no more from this delightful scene stealer, as she passed away shortly after, at the age of 78.

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