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She was born in New York City in 1903, a direct descendant of American Revolution hero Paul Revere.
Revere made her Broadway debut in 1931 in "The Great Barrington". Three years later, she went to Hollywood to reprise her stage role in the film adaptation of "Double Door". She returned to Broadway to create the role of Martha Dobie in the original 1934 production of "The Children's Hour", and in later years she appeared on the New York stage in "As You Like It", "The Three Sisters", and "Toys In The Attic" (play), for which she won the 1960 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.
Revere worked steadily as a character actress in films, appearing in nearly three dozen between 1934 and 1951. She frequently was cast in the role of a matriarch and played mother to Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Jones, Gregory Peck, John Garfield, and Montgomery Clift, among others. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress three times and won for her performance in "National Velvet".
In 1951, Revere resigned from the board of the Screen Actors Guild after she pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. She would not appear again on film for the next twenty years, finally returning to the screen in "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon". She began appearing on television in 1960, notably in soap operas such as "The Edge Of Night", "Search For Tomorrow", and "Ryan's Hope".
Revere and her husband, theatre director Samuel Rosen, moved to New York and opened an acting school, and she continued to work in summer stock and regional theater productions and on television.
Revere died of pneumonia in her Locust Valley, New York home at the age of 87.