Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
Death 16 May 1985 (aged 82)
Salisbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered, Specifically: Ashes scattered over her property in Dutchess County, Amenia, New York
Memorial ID 3146 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Actress. She was best known for her legendary role as “The Wicked Witch of the West” in the 1939 MGM classic “The Wizard of Oz,” which was ranked #4 on the American Film Institute's villains list of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains. Hamilton had a long career on stage and screen, often playing spinsters and nosy neighbors with names like Aunt Huddy, Mrs. Klopplebobbler and Hester Crabwell. In the 1970s she gained fresh fame as “Cora,” in a memorable series of commercials for Maxwell House coffee. A former schoolteacher, she remained passionately interested in education and served on school boards and in children's therapy groups. Margaret Hamilton was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 9, 1902, the youngest of four children. Margaret obtained her teaching certificate in 1923 from the Wheelock Kindergarten Training School in Boston. On June 13, 1931, Margaret Hamilton married Paul Boynton Meserve, a landscape architect. They had one son, Hamilton Wadsworth Meserve. The marriage ended in divorce in 1938 and Margaret raised her son alone in California. Hamilton Meserve is now the publisher of a chain of newspapers in Dutchess County, New York. When Margaret Hamilton was first hired to play a part in a Broadway show it was really just a fluke. She had helped a friend try out for a part and ended up being hired herself. The play was a success and one thing led to another. Over her lifetime she made over 70 motion pictures and performed in at least that many stage plays. She was active in many projects that were geared for children and often at her own expense. Though her roles as “Miss Gulch” and “The Wicked Witch of the West” in “The Wizard of Oz” will never be forgotten, the generation of the 70's will never forget her in the warm and wonderful commercials for Maxwell House Coffee as “Cora” the owner of a small New England store who only sold that brand of coffee. For nearly fifteen years, Margaret Hamilton lived in Los Angeles, California before establishing permanent residence in New York City in 1951. Wherever her home was, she regularly traveled back and forth between coasts to perform in both movies and the theatre and later in television. Among her other accomplishments, Margaret Hamilton was an honorary trustee of the Cleveland Play House and was the recipient in 1977 of the Governor's Award of the State of Ohio. She was also a member of the Veterans Hospital Radio and TV Guild. She would visit hospitals to work with disabled veterans interested in the theatre and broadcasting. Some other memorable films that Margaret Hamilton appeared in after “The Wizard of Oz” included:”My Little Chickadee,” “The Oxbow Incident,” “Guest in the House,” “George White's Scandals,” “State of the Union,” “The Red Pony,” “The Beautiful Blonde,” “Bashful Bend,” “13 Ghosts,” and “Brewster McCloud.” Margaret Hamilton died May 16, 1985 from a heart attack in a nursing home in Salisbury, Connecticut. She was survived by her son and three grandchildren.

Bio by: Edward Parsons

Family Members


In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


See more Hamilton memorials in:


How famous was Margaret Hamilton?

Current rating:

672 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 10 Jul 1998
  • Find a Grave Memorial 3146
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Margaret Hamilton (9 Dec 1902–16 May 1985), Find a Grave Memorial no. 3146, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered, who reports a Ashes scattered over her property in Dutchess County, Amenia, New York.