Today is the birthday of William Desmond (William Manion, 1878-1949). Born in Dublin and raised in New York City, he got his start acting in vaudeville and on the melodrama stage before making his cinema debut in 1915. For over twenty years he was a major player in Westerns and serials. Towards the end of the thirties, his parts (and the studios he worked for) grew progressively smaller. In 1923 he appeared as himself in the Mabel Normand picture The Extra Girl. He is not to be confused with William Desmond Taylor, the film director who was murdered in 1922.
Here he is in the 1934 feature The Rawhide Terror:
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.
And 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