|Beulah Bondi was born Beulah Bondy on 3rd May, 1889, in Chicago, Illinois. She guest starred in The Waltons playing Martha Corinne, the elderly sister in law of Zeb Walton. She was seen in two different episodes: the two hour episode "The Conflict" and then two seasons later in "The Pony Cart". She was awarded an Emmy for her role in "The Pony Cart".
The American actress was to enter the theatre at the very young age of only 7 years old, when she played the male lead in Little Lord Fauntleroy. Apparently the young boy who was to play the role with the troupe visiting Beulah's home town became ill, and Beulah was able to step in. She graduated from Valparaiso University, and joined a stock company, which took her touring throughout the USA. Finally in 1925, she made her Broadway debut in Wild Birds. Her film debut came in Street Scene in 1931, and from that time she concentrated her acting efforts on movies.
During her career she received two Oscar nominations, both for Best Supporting Actress. The first was in 1936 for her role as Rachel Jackson, the pipe smoking backwoods mistress of Andrew Jackson, in the film, The Gorgeous Hussy (MGM), whilst the second nomination came in 1938 for her role as the sacrificing wife of a frontier preacher in the film Of Human Hearts (MGM). She never really achieved stardom as a lead actress and once said:
"Give me a good supporting role, and that's all I ask. The life of a star with few exceptions is brief. It's like a merry-go-round- only suddenly the music stops playing. Supporting players, unless typed, go on forever."
Perhaps most movie buffs though would remember her for her role in It's a Wonderful Life, where she played the mother of James Stewart. She also appeared with Stewart in other films such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and ended up playing his mother five times. Her last official "big screen" appearance was in 1963 in Tammy and the Doctor.
She appeared in many other movies over the years including: Our Town, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, Lone Star, The Unholy Wife, A Summer Place, Tammy Tell Me True, and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.
Although she had retired from making movies, she did make another for television in 1971, She Waits. Following her "retirement" she did make several television appearances including roles in Perry Mason, Wagon Train, Zane Grey Theatre, Goodyear Television Playhouse and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Her final television appearance was in 1980, when she appeared on a television tribute to James Stewart. Sadly, Miss Bondi died of injuries she sustained following an accident at her home. She broke several ribs in a fall, and suffered pulmonary complications. She died on 11th January 1981, but as long as The Waltons is still airing, she will continue to live in our hearts as the crusty old Martha Corinne, who only wanted to live out her days on her beloved mountain land.