She had played a small part in A Tale of Two Cities (17, Frank Lloyd), but chiefly worked on the stage. She was Groucho’s punchbag in the stage versions of The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers and transferred to films when Paramount signed the brothers.
She worked with them seven times: The Cocoanuts (29, Robert Florey and Joseph Sant- ley); Animal Crackers (30, Victor Heerman); Duck Souf) (33, Leo MeCarey); A Night at the Opera; A Day at the Races (37, Sam Wood); At The Circus (39, Edward Buzzell); and The Big Store (4L Charles Reisner). The wonder is that she made other films: deprived of Groucho’s insults, she would seem like a tent without ropes. But they are, in the main, films that slipped under the door: Kentucky Kernels (34, George Stevens); Rendezvous (35, William K. Howard); Anything Goes (36, Lewis Milestone); The Song and Dance Man (36, Allan Dwan); Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (41, Edward Cline); Sing Your Worries Aicay (42, Edward Sutherland); in the W. C. Fields episode cut from Tales of Manhattan (42, Julien Duvivier); with Laurel and Hardy in The Dancing Masters (43, Malcolm St. Clair); Up in Anns (44, Elliott Nugent); Bathing Beauty (44, George Sidney); The Horn Blows at Midnight (45, Raoul Walsh); Susie Steps Out (46, Reginald le Borg); Stop, You 're Killing Me (52, Roy del Ruth); Shake, Rattle and Rock (56, Edward L. Calm); Auntie Maine (58, Morton Da Costa); and What a Way to Go! (63, J. Lee Thompson).
She died only weeks after playing in a TV sketch with Groucho.
A Night at the Opera (35, Sam Wood), on an ocean liner, in the dining room, together at last, Groucho’s Otis B. Driftwood and Margaret Dumonts Mrs. Claypool, a sweet, stately, stupid lady, pearls dipping into décolletage, the face simpering at the silliness of films:
MRS. CLAYPOOL: Mr. Driftwood, three months ago you promised to put me into society. In all that time you've done nothing but draw a very handsome salary.
DRIFTWOOD: YOU think that’s nothing, huh? How many men do you suppose are drawing a handsome salary nowadays? Why, you can count them on the fingers of one hand, my good woman.
MRS. CLAYPOOL: I’m not your good woman.
DRIFTWOOD: Don’t sav that, Mrs. Clavpool. I don’t care what your past has been. To me, you'll always be my good woman, because I love you. There, I didn't mean to tell you, but you, you dragged it out of me. I love you.
MRS. CLAYPOOL: It’s rather difficult to believe that when I find you dining with another woman.
DRIFTWOOD: That woman? Do you know' why I sat with her?
MRS. CLAYPOOL: NO.
DRIFTWOOD: Because she reminded me of you.
MRS. CLAYPOOL: Really?
DRIFTWOOD: Of course! That’s why I’m sitting here with you, because you remind me of you. Your eyes, your throat, your lips, everything about you reminds me of you, except you.
She was a collection of external signs, prepared to tolerate every extravagance from Groucho, as flexible and lofty in her love as a mother and as drained of independence. Her tidy hairstyle, her jewelry, her round hips were like the attributes of any bridge-playing lady asked to sit in on a film set. She is especially touching in the Marx Brothers’ films because she looks amateur and domestic; and, of course, the uneontrived often appears hollow in films.