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St Mary Churchyard Bepton, Chichester District, West Sussex, England

Margaret De Wolfe Wycherly (born Margaret De Wolfe, 26 October 1881 – 6 June 1956) was an English stage and film actress.[2] She was a member of the Heterodoxy club and played the role of Claire Archer in Susan Glaspell's The Verge. When examining the performance of the piece it can be stated women of diverse sexualities did not just enjoy the play, they wanted to be involved in the production of it. In fact, it was Wycherly who eventually played the role of 'fraudulent female' Claire Archer, when the play opened in 1921. However bisexual actress Alla Nazimova was also considered. Furthermore, bisexual actress Sybil Thorndike enquired about playing the role to Edy Craig, after Craig acquired the rights to produce The Verge in England. Thorndike stated the reason she wanted to play the role was `That woman [Claire] says everything, I want to say.' Seemingly Claire Archer was a character women with dual-sexuality related to. She may also have been a vessel through which they could discuss their own sexuality in a socially accepted environment. What appeared to entice these actresses was the possibility of portraying a character with dual-sexuality.

Wycherly spent many years in the United States and is best remembered for her Broadway roles and Hollywood character parts. On screen she played mother to Gary Cooper (Sergeant York) and James Cagney (White Heat).

Wycherly was born in London, England of her Canadian father and American mother, Dr. and Mrs. J. L. De Wolfe.[3] She was married to writer Bayard Veiller (1869–1943) in 1901. They had a son, Anthony Veiller (1903–1965), who also became a writer. She and Veiller divorced in 1922.[4]

She was primarily a stage actress, appearing in one silent film. In 1929, she appeared in her second film, but first talkie, The Thirteenth Chair, based on the 1916 play by her husband in which she had starred. The film was directed by Tod Browning and was in the genre of mystery-old house melodrama. Twelve years later, Wycherley appeared in Sergeant York in 1941. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role of Mother York, though perhaps her best remembered screen role was as Ma Jarrett, the mother of the psychopathic gangster Cody Jarrett, in White Heat (1949), which starred James Cagney.

Vira Boarman Whitehouse and Wycherly
Vira Boarman Whitehouse and Wycherly

Wycherly starred in several popular Broadway plays, including Tobacco Road, Liliom, Six Characters in Search of an Author and The Thirteenth Chair (which role she reprised in the film of the same name). Her other films include Keeper of the Flame, The Yearling, Random Harvest, Forever Amber, The Man with a Cloak and Johnny Angel starring George Raft.

She portrayed Mrs. Brown, Claudia's mother, in the American television series Claudia (1952).[5]

Wycherly died on 6 June 1956 at St. Clare's Hospital in New York City, at the age of 74.[2] She was buried at the St Mary Churchyard, Bepton, Chichester District, West Sussex, England.[6]


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