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Maria Ouspenskaya (July 29, 1876 – December 3, 1949) was a Russian stage actress and acting instructor who was born in the city of Tula in the late 1800s. Her date of birth is a matter of conjecture, and there have been several different sources indicating the year in which she was born, some stating that she was born as early as 1867. Other sources indicate her year of birth as 1887. Her official death certificate identifies her birthday as July 29th, 1876.

Maria has contributed little in terms of horror film acting, but she is responsible for bringing to life a staple character in horror film lore -- Maleva, the Gypsy woman from the 1941 George Waggner film The Wolf Man. As Maleva, Osupenskaya was the mother of Bela, a fortune teller who turned into a werewolf "when the Autumn moon is bright". Her character is responsible for delivering one of the more memorable pieces of dialogue from the film.

The way you walked was thorny, through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Your suffering is over, my son. Now you will find peace.

Ouspenskaya spoke this line twice in the film. She first said it as a form of prayer over the body of her dead son, Bela, and at the end of the film, she repeats the line after werewolf Larry Talbot is bludgeoned to death by his father, Sir John.

Maria Ouspenskaya reprised the role of Maleva in the 1943 sequel, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Here, she reunited with Larry Talbot and journeyed with him to the village of Vasaria in the hopes of finding a way to bring him final peace.

Maria Ouspenskaya was a chain smoker, a habit which ultimately resulted in her death. In 1949, she fell asleep while smoking in bed, which resulted in a fire causing 2nd degree burns all across Ouspenkaya's body. She died from complications shortly thereafter. [1]

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  1. Tom Weaver; The Wolf Man audio commentary; The Wolf Man Legacy Collection DVD; 2004