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Esther Howard

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Occupation  Actress
Years active  1917–1952

Name  Esther Howard
Role  Film actress
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Born  April 4, 1892 (1892-04-04) Helena, Montana, U.S.
Died  March 8, 1965, Hollywood, California, United States
Spouse  Arthur Albertson (m. ?–1926)
Movies  Born to Kill, Detour, Sullivan's Travels, The Great Flamarion, Dick Tracy vs Cueball
Similar People  Preston Sturges, Dick Wessel, Edgar G Ulmer, John Cromwell, Morgan Conway

Esther howard worked with all 6 of the three stooges

Esther Howard (4 April 1892 – 8 March 1965) was a stage and film character actress who played a wide range of supporting roles, from man-hungry spinsters to amoral criminals, appearing in 108 films in her 23-year career.


Esther Howard Actress Esther Howard as Jessie Florian in the great 1944 film noir


Esther Howard Sharon Knolle Entertainment Writer Film Noir Foundation

Howard was born in Helena, Montana in 1892 and made her Broadway debut in 1917 in a play called Eve's Daughter, which was not a success. She continued to appear regularly on Broadway for the next twelve years, performing in comedies and musicals, including the hit shows Wildflower (1923) and The New Moon (1929), which was her final Broadway production.

Esther Howard Familiar Faces 3 Esther Howard Grand Dame of Film Noir cracked

In 1930, Miss Howard was still slender and beautiful when she changed her focus to making movies, appearing in a Vitaphone comedy short, The Victim (1930). From that point until her retirement in 1952, she worked regularly – at least one film she appeared in was released every year. She was often cast as an oversexed dowager, a decrepit old hag, and, occasionally, a glamorous society dame. Known for her versatility and expressive face, notable among her many roles were the gorgeous Miss Prescott in Meet the Mayor (1932), frowsy Jessie Florian in Raymond Chandler's Murder My Sweet (1944), a murderer in Laurel and Hardy's The Big Noise (1944), diner waitress Holly in Detour (1945), bawdy Filthy Flora in Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, (1946), the determined Mrs. Kraft out to solve a murder in Born to Kill (1947), and as Kirk Douglas’ mother in Champion (1949). Miss Howard's lovely singing voice was used to ghost sing (dub in) for bigger name stars who had no singing talent, but she never sang onscreen for herself.

Esther Howard Caftan Woman Esther Howard

Beginning in the early 1940s, Howard was part of Preston Sturges' unofficial "stock company" of character actors, appearing in seven films written and directed by Sturges. From 1937, Howard was a regular player in short-subjects produced at Columbia Pictures, where she was frequently cast opposite comedian Andy Clyde. Her last film was a Columbia comedy short, Caught on the Bounce (1952), in which she played Joe Besser's aunt.


Esther Howard Familiar Faces 3 Esther Howard Grand Dame of Film Noir cracked

Howard died of a heart attack in Hollywood, California on 8 March 1965, aged 72. She is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

Selected filmography

Esther Howard Familiar Faces 3 Esther Howard Grand Dame of Film Noir cracked
  • Ready for Love (1934)
  • Sappy Birthday (1942)
  • San Diego, I Love You (1944)
  • Murder, My Sweet (1944)
  • Detour (1945)
  • The Falcon's Alibi (1946)
  • Born to Kill (1947)
  • References

    Esther Howard Wikipedia