Ellen Corby was born Ellen Hansen on June 3, 1911, in Racine, Wisconsin. She began her career as a bit player in the film Speed Limited (1935) in 1940. Ellen would not be seen on the big screen again until 1945 in Cornered (1945). In 1946, she appeared in 14 films, although mostly in small, minor roles. One of them was in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). One of the highlights of her career came about in 1948 in I Remember Mama (1948) as Aunt Trina. Ellen garnered a nomination for Best Supporting Actress, which was ultimately won by Claire Trevor in Key Largo (1948). The Oscar nomination didn’t send her to the heights she had hoped. This wonderful actress continued in roles that were mostly minor compared to some of her contemporaries. However, it was television where she would receive the acclaim that had eluded her on the screen. Time after time she played parts that was absolutely outstanding. One of the funniest was as Myrt “Hubcaps” Lesh in The Andy Griffith Show (1960). She was the ringleader of a gang that stole cars and then sold them, and she sold Barney Fife a stolen car that turned out to be a real lemon. The series that brought her worldwide recognition, though, was the highly acclaimed The Waltons (1971) as Esther “Grandma” Walton. The role got her Emmy awards in 1973, 1974, and 1975. Although a stroke in 1977 slowed her down, Ellen still made appearances on the series. Her last TV appearance was in 1997 in the TV movie A Walton Easter (1997). On April 14, 1999, Ellen died at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. She was 87 years old.
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