Oscar Speeches: Astor, Mary (The Great Lie)

Born Lucille Vasconcellos Langhanke May 3, 1906 in Quincy, Illinois; died in 1987.

Astor was driven by an ambitious German-immigrant father, who entered her into a beauty contest at 14, and year later into films.

After playing some small parts, she was catapulted to stardom in 1924, as John Barrymore’s leading lady in “Beau Brummel.”

Astor’s off screen adventuresa stormy love affair with John Barrymore, four marriages, alcoholism, attempted suicidewere popular subjects of Hollywood gossip.

In 1941, Astor won the Supporting Actress Oscar for “The Great Lie,” a popular Bette Davis melodrama.  In the same year, Astor was also in John Huston’s great crimer film, “The Maltese falcon,” opposite Humphrey Bogart.  Many in the industry believed that Astor was honored for both roles.  Astor later said that she would have preferred to win for “Maltese Falcon.”  

Oscar Speech

In her Oscar speech, Mary Astor reminded her colleagues that she had been acting for 22 years.  She then thanked the two individuals who have helped the most in playing the vicious classic pianist, her co-star Bette Davis, and composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which some people thought was pretentious.

Oscar Alert

In 1941, Astor competed for the Supporting Actress Oscar with Sara Allgood in “How Green Was My Valley,” Patricia Collinge in “The Little Foxes,” Teresa Wright in “The Little Foxes,” and Margaret Wycherly in “Sergeant York.”