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Peggy Wood

Peggy Wood circa 1918.
Born Mary Margaret Wood
February 9, 1892(1892-02-09)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died March 18, 1978 (aged 86)
Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1910–1968
Spouse(s) John V.A. Weaver (1924-1938)
Will Walling (1941-1973)

Peggy Wood (February 9, 1892 – March 18, 1978) was an American actress of stage, film and television.


Early career

Born Mary Margaret Wood in Brooklyn, New York, Wood spent nearly fifty years on the stage, beginning in the chorus and becoming known as a Broadway singer and star. She made her stage debut in 1910 in the chorus of Naughty Marietta. In 1917, in Maytime, she introduced the song ‘Will You Remember’. She starred in several other musicals before playing Portia in a 1928 production of The Merchant of Venice. In the late 1920s and 1930s, she played lead roles in musicals staged in London and New York.

Later career

In 1941, in the New York premiere of Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, she portrayed Ruth Condomine, whose husband's deceased first wife returns as an irritating ghost.

Because of her stage career, Peggy Wood did not make many films. She co-starred opposite Will Rogers in Handy Andy and was seen in the film Jalna. She also had a cameo in the 1937 film A Star is Born playing a receptionist at a movie studio who advises Janet Gaynor to go back home.

From 1949 to 1957, she played matriarch Marta Hansen, Mama, in the popular CBS television series Mama, based on the Broadway play and film I Remember Mama. When General Foods cancelled the program, there was so much protest that CBS brought it back on Sunday afternoon, this time as a filmed series. But since they did not have that many clearances it was decided to put the show into syndication, where it was a huge success; 26 episodes were filmed. Following "Mama", Wood was also seen in episodes of Zane Grey Theater and an episode of The Nurses which co-starred Ruth Gates, who played her sister Jenny on Mama.

She then co-starred with Imogene Coca in the Broadway play, The Girls in 509 which had a moderate run.

In October 1963 she and Ruth Gates appeared in a one-act play, Opening Night, which played in an off-Broadway theater. Wood portrayed Fanny Ellis, a once famous star who prepares for a performance in her dressing room. The play lasted 47 performances.

Last appearances

Her final screen appearance was as the gentle, wise Mother Abbess in the The Sound Of Music (1965), for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She was thrilled to be in the movie although she knew she could no longer sing "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." She was dubbed by Margery McKay. In her memoir, "I Could Have Danced All Night", Marni Nixon, who played Sister Sophia, related that Peggy especially liked Margery McKay's voice because it sounded like she did when she was singing.

In 1969 she joined the cast of the ABC-TV soap, One Life to Live as Dr. Kate Nolan and had a recurring role until the end of the year.

Her first autobiography, How Young You Look, was published by Farrar and Rinehart in 1941. An update, Arts and Flowers, appeared in 1963. She also wrote a biography of actor John Drew, Jr., was co-author of a play called Miss Quis and a novel called The Star Wagon.

Wood received numerous awards for her theatrical work and for a while was president of American National Theatre and Academy (ANTA).

Personal life

Wood married and was widowed twice. Her first husband, poet/writer John V.A. Weaver, died at age 44 and her second, William Walling, an executive in the printing business, died in 1973 after 32 years. Wood died on March 18, 1978 in Stamford, Connecticut, aged 86, following a stroke.

External links



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