Today is the birthday of Marion Sunshine (Mary James, 1894-1963). She got her start at age five acting in the melodrama Two Little Waifs and later went into vaudeville. For a time she was in a sister act called Temple and Sunshine with her sister Florence Tempest, and later she was a single, ultimately appearing at the Palace at least a half dozen times between 1926 and 1931. Starting with the first Ziegfeld Follies in 1907 she appeared in a dozen Broadway shows through 1926; from 1908 through 1916 she was in over two dozen silent films.
Her most lasting legacy was as a songwriter, and as one of those who introduced Latin music to American audiences. She married Cuban American Eusebio Azpiazu and helped him manage and promote his brother, bandleader Don Azpiazu, whose band she also performed with, becoming known as “the Rumba Lady”. Sunshine wrote the lyrics to such songs as ‘The Peanut Vendor”, “When I Get Low, I Get High” and “The Mango Mengue”.
To find out more about vaudeville and 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.