Mary Gordon
Black and white head shot of Mary Gordon from the film in I Take This Oath
Gordon in I Take This Oath (1940)
Mary Gilmour

(1882-05-16)16 May 1882
Died23 August 1963(1963-08-23) (aged 81)
Years active1925–1950
Notable workMrs. Hudson, Sherlock Holmes' landlady on radio and film

Mary Gordon (born Mary Gilmour; 16 May 1882 – 23 August 1963) was a Scottish actress who mainly played housekeepers and mothers, most notably the landlady Mrs. Hudson in the Sherlock Holmes series of movies of the 1940s starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Her body of work included nearly 300 films between 1925 and 1950.

Early life

Gordon was born on 16 May 1882 in Glasgow, Scotland, the fifth of seven children of Mary and Robert Gilmour, a wire weaver.[1] She worked as a dressmaker before finding work on the stage.[citation needed] She became a concert singer when she was 17 years old, but she left that career behind when she married. After her husband died during World War I she opened a boarding house to support her mother, her baby daughter, and herself.[2] Joining a company bound for an American tour, she came to the U.S. in her twenties, apparently making a few appearances on Broadway in small roles, but primarily touring in stock companies.[citation needed] Gordon came to the United States with her mother and daughter soon after World War I ended. After working three months as a waitress in the Robertson-Cole Studios, she became the cook there. She had bit parts in films and coached Katharine Hepburn on using a Scottish dialect for the film The Little Minister.[3]


With her mother and daughter, she arrived in Los Angeles in the mid-1920s and began playing variations on the roles she would spend her career on. She became friends with John Ford while making Hangman's House in 1928 and made seven more films with him. In 1939, she took on her best-remembered role as Sherlock Holmes' landlady, Mrs. Hudson, and played the role in ten films and numerous radio plays. She was a charter member of the Hollywood Canteen, entertaining servicemen throughout the Second World War. On the radio show Those We Love, she played the regular role of Mrs. Emmett.

She entered retirement just as television reshaped the entertainment industry, making only a single appearance in that medium.

She was active in the Daughters of Scotia auxiliary of the Order of Scottish Clans.[citation needed]

She lived out her final years in Pasadena, California with her daughter and grandson. She died at age 81 on 23 August 1963 in Pasadena after a long illness.[4]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Scottish Census for 1901, v Roll CSSCT1891_283
  2. ^ Dillon, Franc (11 August 1935). "Cinderella, Buxom and Fifty". Detroit Free Press. p. 51. Retrieved 1 December 2022 – via
  3. ^ "Opportunity Knocks on Two Doors". Times Union. New York, Brooklyn. 7 July 1935. p. 11. Retrieved 1 December 2022 – via
  4. ^ Pasadena Star-News, 26 August 1963