71 (passed away Feb. 26th, 1966)
Sep. 22nd, 1894
Eureka, California, USA
Guest TV Roles[none found]
A stage actress, Urecal made her screen debut in 1934. For the remainder of her career and two hundred plus movies, she played cleaning women, landladies, shopkeepers and the like. She was known as a Marjorie Main type actress and later went on to a career in television playing in such shows as "Tugboat Annie" and "Peter Gunn." Minerva claimed her name was an amalgam of her hometown, Eureka, California. Of Scottish descent, cruel-eyed, hatchet-faced veteran actress Minerva Urecal was a radio-trained player who spent some time on the clock with stage work before setting her sights on film and TV. Born Minerva Holzer in 1894 in the town of Eureka, California, her subsequent stage moniker would become a partial anagram of her hometown name. Strictly a West Coast-based performer, she finally turned to films in 1933 at the age of 39, and appeared for the next three decades making a number of top stars miserable even in the smallest of parts. Obviously inspired by the cranky dowager instincts of Marie Dressler, Urecal was equipped with extremely coarse and intimidating features that showed no fear to anyone. Her beady eyes, hawk-like nose, firm-set jaw, angry demeanor and immovable stance could tear right through a person. She could easily shrink a film husband by at least three inches with a simple withering glance.
Evidently a little of her went a long way, for Urecal appeared primarily in uncredited parts over the years. Still noticeable, however, she could be glimpsed as a secretary, laundress, spinster, neighbor or townsperson somewhere along the line. She was a typically unsatisfied store customer and proved a most brutal and narrow-minded gossip when called upon. Her unhappy kind were ideally suited for big-city tenement settings, the western frontier or on the open seas, and she also played a number of ethnic types (Italian, Swedish, etc.). Primarily diffused in "B" quality pictures and two-reel short comedies, she was often confused with another scene-stealing character harridan, Marjorie Main, who resembled her in looks, tone and style. Some of Urecal's more visible roles were in Oh Doctor (1937), Love in a Bungalow (1937), The Ape Man (1943), Louisiana Hayride (1944), Moonlight and Cactus (1944), Rainbow Over Texas (1946) and The Lovable Cheat (1949).
Tucked away in the shadows in many of her 200+ film parts, she began tackling TV assignments in the 1950s and appeared to have an affinity for westerns, guesting on "The Lone Ranger" (1949), "The Range Rider" (1951), "My Friend Flicka" (1956) and both Gene Autry (I) and Roy Rogers (I)' popular weekly series, among others. She finally stepped up to the plate with her own series as the titular whiskey-voiced heroine in "The Adventures of Tugboat Annie" (1957). She played Annie Brennan, the weather-beaten widow of a sea captain who takes over the tugboat "Nemesis" herself and the repercussions therein. The comedy series lasted only one season. She later replaced the similarly formidable Hope Emerson as Mother for the 1959-60 season of the detective series "Peter Gunn" (1958). Urecal continued in character film roles until the mid-'60s, and proved a standout as James Stewart (I)'s touchy Scandinavian cook in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962). One of her acid-tongued shrews finally got her comeuppance in her next-to-last film. As the intolerant, highly indignant townswoman Mrs. Lindquist, whose cruel orbs could turn any ordinary man to stone, it is she who suffers that exact same fate when she visits Tony Randall (I)'s traveling circus in 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). Some of Urecal's final TV roles were on "Wagon Train" (1957), "Perry Mason" (1957) and "Petticoat Junction" (1963). Never married, the California die-hard succumbed to a heart attack at age 71 in 1966.
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