Ellen Corby

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Ellen Corby (June 3, 1911 – April 14, 1999) was an American actress. She is most widely remembered for the role of "Grandma Esther Walton" on the CBS television series The Waltons, for which she won three Emmy Awards. She was also nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Aunt Trina in I Remember Mama. Corby was born Ellen Hansen in Racine, Wisconsin, the daughter of Danish parents. She grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An interest in amateur theater while in high school led her to Atlantic City in 1932 where she briefly worked as a chorus girl. She moved to Hollywood that same year and got a job as a script girl at RKO Studios and Hal Roach Studios, where she frequently worked on the Our Gang comedies, next to her husband, cinematographer Francis Corby. She held that position for the next twelve years and took acting lessons on the side. Corby began her career as a writer working on the Paramount Western Twilight on the Trail and 1947's Hoppy's Holiday. She landed her first acting job in 1945, playing a maid in RKO's Cornered.

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