Home » Arts & Entertainment » Movies » What Happened to Clara Blandick?
Clara Blandick

What Happened to Clara Blandick?

Clara Blandick was well-known for her role as Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz. She started her career on stage and then in cinema in 1908. She continued to act in films until her retirement in 1950. She then spent much of her time alone and was forgotten in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Clara Blandick, who played Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz, committed suicide in 1962 after suffering from health problems. She dressed in a royal blue dressing gown with her hair styled and furnished her room with photos, mementos, and press cuttings from her career before dying.

Clara Blandick in The Wizard of Oz

Blandick’s most notable minor role was Aunt Em in MGM’s classic The Wizard of Oz in 1939. The character was a significant symbol of heroine Dorothy’s longing to return home to her adored aunt and uncle, despite her modest role. She shot all of her parts in a single week. 

Blandick got $750 per week after beating out May Robson, Janet Beecher, and Sarah Padden for the part. Although some speculated that Aunt Em’s alter identity would be Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, the studio decided to cast separate actors in each role.

Billie Burke, who played Glinda, was only eight years younger, they wanted someone younger looking to contrast the nice witch with the terrible witches. Blandick is only mentioned in the final credits of the film.

After the filming of The Wizard of Oz, Blandick returned to her staple of character acting in supporting and bit roles. She would continue to act in a wide variety of roles in dozens of films. (Source: The American Film Institute

Clara Blandick’s Suicide

Blandick’s condition worsened steadily throughout the 1950s and much into her retirement. Her vision began to deteriorate, and she had acute, excruciating arthritis. She returned home following Palm Sunday services at her church on April 15, 1962. She started reorganizing her room, prominently displaying her favorite photos and mementos.

She placed her resume and a pile of press clippings from her long career on the table and was dressed impeccably in a royal blue dressing robe, and her hair was perfectly styled before taking an overdose of sleeping tablets. She sat on a couch; a gold blanket slung over her shoulders and a plastic bag tied around her head.

Blandick left the following note:

I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.

Helen Mason, her landlady, discovered her body on Sunday morning. Blandick had thrown away all of her medications the week before she died to prepare for her death. Her ashes were interred beside her sister, Marcia D. Young, and Marcia’s husband, George A. Young, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale’s Great Mausoleum, Columbarium of Security.

Blandick’s cremated remains are mere yards away from actor Charley Grapewin, who played her on-screen spouse in The Wizard of Oz. (Source: The Life and Times of Hollywood

Leave a Comment