Stars of Slapstick #76: Marion “Peanuts” Byron

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Today is the birthday of Marion Byron (1911-1985). Born Miriam Bilenkin in Dayton, Ohio, she sang and danced briefly in vaudeville before being cast by Buster Keaton as his co-star in Steamboat Bill, Jr (1928). After this appeared in Hal Roach shorts with the likes of Max Davidson, Edgar Kennedy, Charley Chase and Anita Garvin (the latter of whom she was paired with briefly as a team.) She co-starred in the musical Broadway Babies with Alice White and some other very early features, but her star rapidly fell. By 1932 she was only a bit player and extra; by 1938 she gave up and retired from the business. (By the way, her nickname “Peanuts” springs from the fact that she was a tiny lass, only 4′ 11″).

Here she is (and very funny) in the 1929 Garvin-Byron comedy A Pair of Tights. Feel free to turn the sound down on the cheesy music and corny narration, this is culled from one of those 60s compliation films:

To learn more about silent and slapstick comedy, don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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