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Eugénie Besserer Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Jan 1, 1870
  • Died: May 10, 1934

Aged character actress Eugenie Besserer portrayed Al Jolson's mother with such quiet self-assurance in The Jazz Singer (1927) that many viewers have assumed she really was of Russian-Jewish descent. In truth, Ms. Besserer was born in France and educated in Canada. She began her stage career in the late 1880s, making her film debut in 1911's [[Feature~V106799~The Profligate~theprofligate]]. Most of her movie appearances were in roles requiring matriarchal self-sacrifice; she worked extensively with [[Performer~P92597~D. W. Griffith~dwgriffith]], whose fidelity to the concept of Mother Love was one of his trademarks. When cast in the pioneering part-talkie The Jazz Singer, Besserer assumed her role would be silent, but in the celebrated Vitaphone "Blue Skies" sequence, Jolson's incessant adlibbing all but forced the actress to speak up -- and in so doing, she became the second actor ever to be heard in a major-studio talking picture. Eugenie Besserer remained in films until a few months before her death; her last appearance was in the outdoor western [[Feature~V50200~To the Last Man~tothelastman]] (1933). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi