Mary Astor (born Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke) was an American actress and musician. Although her career spanned several decades, she may be best remembered for her performance as Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon (1941). Astor began her long motion picture career as a teenager in the silent movies of the early 1920s. When talkies arrived, her voice was initially considered too masculine and she was off the screen for a year. After she appeared in a play with friend Florence Eldridge, film offers returned, and she resumed her career in sound pictures. In 1936, Astor's career was nearly destroyed by scandal. She had an affair with playwright George S. Kaufman and was branded an adulterous wife by her ex-husband during a custody fight over their daughter. Overcoming these stumbling blocks in her private life, she went on to greater film success, eventually winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of concert pianist Sandra Kovak in The Great Lie (1941). Astor was a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player through most of the 1940s and continued to work in film, television and on stage until her retirement in 1964. She authored five novels. Her autobiography was a bestseller, as was her later book, A Life on Film, which was about her career. Director Lindsay Anderson wrote of Astor in 1990 that when "two or three who love the cinema are gathered together, the name of Mary Astor always comes up, and everybody agrees that she was an actress of special attraction, whose qualities of depth and reality always seemed to illuminate the parts she played."
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