Marion “Peanuts” Byron: Pint-Sized Comedienne


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.)

Here she is with Laurel and Hardy under the Christmas mistletoe:

She co-starred in the musical Broadway Babies (1929) with Alice White and some other very early features, but her star rapidly fell. By 1932 she was only a bit player and extra. For example, she was uncredited in the Wheeler and Woolsey comedy Hips, Hips Hooray, although she did pose for sexy publicity stills (it’s a pretty sexy pre-code comedy):

By 1938 she gave up and retired from the business. (By the way, her nickname “Peanuts” springs from the fact that she was a li’l peanut, only 4′ 11″ in heels).

Peanuts married screenwriter Lou Breslow, who penned scripts for Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges,Abbott and Costello, the Blondie franchise, and the immortal Ronald Reagan feature Bedtime for Bonzo (1951).

To learn more about silent and slapstick comedy and comedians like Peanuts Byron 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 etc

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