Hyams and McIntyre: Vaudeville Parents of “Freaks” Leila Hyams


The most lasting legacy of the song-and-dance-flirtation act of John Hyams (1869-1940) and Leila McIntyre (1882-1953) was their daughter Leila Hyams, a nationally famous model who later went on to star in films from 1924 through 1936. She might be best known to readers of this blog as the leading lady in Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932)but she was also in Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928), Spite Marriage (1929) Island of Lost Souls (1932), Red-Headed Woman (1932), The Big Broadcast (1932) and Ruggles of Red Cap (1935).

The parents had each each started out in Broadway shows, met in one (The Sleeping Beauty and the Beast) and become an inseparable pair. They started off in vaudeville in 1905 after their daughter was born, which made commitment to Broadway shows difficult for a time. (Vaudeville was steady yet more flexible and you could rehearse according to your own schedule). They were a big enough act that they were booked for the Palace in 1914, only a year after it opened. Their career in vaudeville lasted a quarter century. They also appeared in many films from the late 20s through the early years of talkies, although mostly in small, uncredited roles.

To find out more about vaudeville past and present, including teams like Hyams and McIntyre, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

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