Dot Farley: “The Ugliest Woman in Motion Pictures”


Today is the birthday of Dot Farley (1881-1971). A second generation thespian from the Chicago area, she made her stage debut at the age of three. After several years as a professional actress in the theatre, she made her film debut with Chicago-based Essanay Studios in 1910, moving west to Hollywood when the studio opened a facility there. During the silent era, she worked at nearly every single comedy shop, frequently billed as “The Ugliest Woman in Motion Pictures” by virtue of her crossed eyes and prominent teeth. Some of her best remembered films from the silent era are Bangville Police and Fatty Joins the Force (both for Keystone in 1913), and A Small Town Idol (also for Sennett, 1921. She is best known however for playing the nagging mother-in-law of Edgar Kennedy in a series of his comedy shorts for RKO in the 30s and 40s. Like this one:

For more on silent and slapstick comedy film history 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 etc etc etcchain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 


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