Alabama lost one of its stars when Mary Anderson, a classic movie actress with a distinguished career, died on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at the age of 96. The Birmingham native, born Bebe Anderson on April 3, 1918, appeared in more than 60 films and television programs during her forty year Hollywood career.
Anderson played supporting characters in a number of high-profile pictures. She appeared as Maybelle Merriwether in "Gone with the Wind" (1939), and was one of the iconic movie's longest surviving cast members. One of her most important roles came in 1944, when she starred in Alfred Hitchcock's wartime thriller, "Lifeboat," along with fellow Alabamian Tallulah Bankhead. Other significant film appearances included "The Song of Bernadette" (1943), "Wilson" (1944), "To Each His Own" (1946), and "I, the Jury" (1953).
Mary Anderson's younger brother, James Anderson, followed his sister into films. Born in Wetumpka in 1921, he specialized in Westerns but also played Bob Ewell in the 1962 big screen adaptation of Harper Lee's classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird." James Anderson died in 1969.
According to her Los Angeles Times obituary, Mary Anderson died in hospice care following a series of strokes. She was preceded in death by her second husband, the cinematographer and director Leon Shamroy, and their infant son, who was Anderson's only child.
Jennifer Garlen writes as the Huntsville and National Classic Movies Examiner. Her book, "Beyond Casablanca: 100 Classic Movies Worth Watching," is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.