Today is the birthday of Phyllis Haver (1899-1960). Born in Kansas and raised in Los Angeles, Haver auditioned to be one of Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties in 1915 and was hired (any mystery why? Look at that picture!) She rapidly rose to the top of the heap and by 1917 was playing featured roles in Sennett’s comedy shorts. By 1921, Sennett was preparing a feature for her to star in (The Extra Girl ), but Haver left the studio and Mabel Normand took the role. Haver starred opposite Buster Keaton in The Balloonatic in 1923, then went on to star in a number of features, notably playing Roxie Hart in the original silent version of Chicago in 1927. She retired from the screen in 1930 to marry millionaire William Seeman (Rube Goldberg’s brother-in-law). The couple divorced in 1945; Haver committed suicide 15 years later.
Now here she is in The Balloonatic:
For more on silent and slapstick comedy film 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
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.