|Was||Actor Stage actor Film actor|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio|
|Birth||25 December 1868, Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, USA|
|Death||28 May 1934, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 65 years)|
Eugenie Besserer (December 25, 1868 – May 28, 1934) was an American actress who starred in silent films and features of the early sound motion-picture era, beginning in 1910. Her most prominent role is that of the title character's mother in the first talkie film The Jazz Singer.
Born in Watertown, New York to French Canadian parents, she was taken by her parents to Ottawa, Ontario, as a girl, and spent her childhood there. She was left an orphan and escaped from her guardians at the age of 12. She came to New York City and arrived at Grand Central Station with only 25 cents (Canadian currency, equivalent to US$0.34 at the time) in her pocket. She managed to locate a former governess, with the assistance of a street car conductor, who helped Eugenie locate an uncle, with whom she lived. She continued her education there.
Besserer's initial theatrical experience came with McKee Rankin when the producer had Nance O'Neill as a star. Soon, she appeared with stage luminaries such as Frank Keenan and Wilton Lackaye. As a youth, she played a juvenile part with Maurice Barrymore. She performed a season at Pike's Opera House in Portland, Oregon. Another season, Eugenie acted in a drama opposite Henry Kolker. The illness of her sister brought her to the West Coast, and she came to Hollywood in 1910 when films were just starting to be made.
In motion pictures, Eugenie was usually cast in mother roles, most famously as the mother of Al Jolson's character in The Jazz Singer. Eugenie became associated with the Selig Polyscope Company. A significant part for the actress was her role as Aunt Ray Innis in The Circular Staircase (1915), based on the novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart.
She shared a home with her husband, Albert W. Hegger, an art dealer, from the time she came to Los Angeles. They lived in a hilltop home above Silver Lake. They had one daughter.
Eugenie Besserer died in 1934, aged 65, from a heart attack at her home. A funeral mass was held at St. Theresa's Church, with a rosary service at Edwards Brothers Colonial Mortuary, Venice Boulevard, in Los Angeles. She is buried in Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles.