Margaret McWade

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Margaret May McWade
The Blot 02 1921.jpg
Still with Louis Calhern and Margaret McWade in The Blot (1921)
Born Margaret May Fish
(1871-09-03)September 3, 1871
Chicago, Illinois
Died April 1, 1956(1956-04-01) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation actress
Years active 1914-1945
Spouse(s) Edward McWade (?-?)

Margaret May McWade (born Margaret May Fish and occasionally credited under the stage name, Margaret May) (3 September 1871 - 1 April 1956) was an American stage and film actress. She began her career in vaudeville in the early 1890s. Her most memorable role was as one of The Pixilated Sisters, in which she was in a comedic stage act with actress Margaret Seddon. Later in 1936 they reprised their roles in the movie, Mr Deeds Goes to Town.

Biography

Fish was born September 3, 1871 in Chicago, Illinois, the eldest of three daughters, to Mr. Fish and Pauline Hazzard Fish. A number of short biographies state that Fish was born in 1872; however, the 1900 U.S. Census reports her birth in 1871.[1]

Career

During her early career Margaret May Fish went by the stage name, Margaret May.[2][3][4]

In the late 1890s while performing in vaudeville she met fellow actress Margaret Seddon. The two actresses teamed up to create a stage act known as the, The Pixillated Sisters. The act proved to be a hit for the duo. Years later they would reprise the The Pixilated Sisters in the 1936 movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

Margaret and her husband, Edward McWade appeared in a number of stage performances together in Boston and New York before their marriage. Their earliest stage appearance together was in March 1892 in Boston. They were cast as supporting characters in, County Fair at the Whitney Opera House. Until late 1919 Margaret continued to use her stage name Margaret May.[5]

Margaret McWade made her silver screen debut in the 1914 silent film, The Drama of Heyville, starring Marc McDermott and directed by Ashley Miller. She was under contract to The Edison Film Company and then was later picked up by the Vitagraph Film Company. She went on to act in a total of 59 films from 1914-1954.

Between films she was a prolific stage actress touring the U.S. with a number of different theatrical companies. Margaret also toured in theater shows with her husband Edward, several which he wrote. In April 1901, Edward McWade wrote and produced the play, Winchester, at the American Theater in New York. The play was based upon an event during the Civil War. Edward wrote a supporting role for his wife Margaret. In the following year, 1902 he wrote the play, The Land of Mystery, a romantic drama in which Margaret also had a role.[6][4]

In 1922, Margaret McWade was cast in the movie Blot which was produced and directed by Lois Weber. Blot is consider by many critics to be Lois Weber’s greatest filmic work. Margaret played the character of Mrs. Griggs, and is described in reviews as the “old mother hubbard, shouldering most of the burden for the penny pinching family.” The movie went on to receive critical acclaim, which paved the way for more acting roles. Margaret was most often described as playing the mother, aunt, older sister, spinster and later in her career as the grandmother. In a Louisiana newspaper, Monroe Morning Works, in June 5, 1938, she is described physically as “the one with the angular face and black hair”.[7][8]

In 1935, producers approached both Margaret McWade and Margaret Seddon and asked them to reprise their roles as The Pixilated Sisters for the 1936 movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, starring Gary Cooper and directed by Frank Capra. In the film the two actresses play sisters who believe that Gary Cooper’s character is “pixilated”. Reprising these characters set off a brief firestorm of stage and film performances for the duo. In the Texas newspaper, The Corsicana Daily Sun, Margaret McWade is quoted as saying about playing the Pixilated Sisters in the movie, “...it’s a one chance in a million, like something out of a book. It’s not hard to understand. It wasn’t we who clicked individually or even collectively. It was a grand part. If you recall, we turned the tide by our testimony in favor of Gary Cooper at an insanity hearing. He was a beloved character, and by helping him we- helped ourselves.” The two actresses teamed up for a variety of films throughout the later 1930s and into the 1940s, often playing spinster sisters in comedic roles written just for them, such as the film, One Man's Bonus. Any movie this duo appeared in after 1936, they were often billed in newspapers and posters as those “beloved Pixilated Sisters”.[9][10]

Later years and death

Two years after performing in her last movie, Margaret McWade died on April 1, 1956, in Los Angeles at the age of 83. She was buried in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois and is interned in the Rosehill Cemetery.[11]

Stage performances

  • 1892-- The County Fair. The Whitney Opera House; Boston, MA; ** Edward McWade in production.[12]
  • 1893--Comic Stage Sketches. Boston, MA; ** Edward McWade in production.[13]
  • 1901-- Winchester. The American Theater, New York; Written by husband Edward McWade.[6]
  • 1902-- The Land of Mystery. New York Theater Company; New York; Written by husband Edward McWade.[4]
  • 1912—Robert A. Hudson Theater; San Francisco, CA; New York Stage Production Company.[14]
  • 1925-- The Painted Lady.The William Fox Players. Touring theatrical show. Bar Harbor Maine.[15]

Partial filmography

References

  1. 1900, United States Census, West Township, Cook County, Illinois; pg. 13, family 208, dwelling 849, lines 31-34; June 12, 1900.
  2. Edward McWade, Margaret May, theater review, Fitchburg, MA, Fitchburg Sentinel, May 30, 1892.
  3. Edward McWade, Margaret May theater review, Boston, MA, Boston Sunday Post, January 23, 1893.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Margaret May theater review, New York, New York, New York Times; May 2, 1902.
  5. Edward McWard, Margaret May theater review, Fitchburg, MA, Fitchburg Sentinel, March 30, 1892.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Margaret May theater review, New York, New York, New York Times; April 21, 1901.
  7. Lois Weber movie review, Turner Classic Movies,The Blot, Web. 31 October 2014. http://.tcm.com/this-month/article/1036257%7C0/Silent-Sundays-Nights-in-October.html
  8. Lois Weber, "Blot" movie review,Alberta, Canada, Medicine Hat Daily News, May 29, 1922, pg. 6.
  9. Margaret McWade movie review, New York, New York, The New York Times; July 31, 1936; pg. 22.
  10. Margaret McWade movie review, Corsicana, Texas, The Corsicana Daily Sun, Texas. November 14, 1936.
  11. Death Record for Margaret May McWade, 3 September 1956, California Department of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics
  12. Theater review, Fitchburg, MA, Fitchburg Sentinel, March 30, 1892.
  13. Theater review, Boston, MA, Boston Sunday Post, January 23, 1893.
  14. Theater review, San Francisco, CA, San Francisco Call, June 13, 1912, pg.15.
  15. Theater Review, "The Painted Lady", Bar Harbor, Maine, bar Harbor Times, July 15, 1925.

External links