Today is the birthday of Flora Finch (Flora Brooks, 1867-1940). Born in London, she began her career on the legit stage and in music hall before moving to the U.S. and performing in vaudeville.
In 1908 she became an actress at Biograph, the same year D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett started at the studio. In 1910, she moved over to Vitagraph, where she was paired with comedian John Bunny. The physical contrast between the skinny, gawky, bird-like Flora Finch, with the grossly corpulent Bunny made for comedy gold. Usually the two played a married couple, with Bunny as sort of a party guy, and Finch as a scold. Their co-starring shorts were nicknamed “Bunnyfinches”, “Bunnygraphs” or “Bunnyfinchgraphs”. Incredibly, 160 of these were made, very few of which survive.
In 1915, Bunny passed away. Finch got her own starring series of comedies for a couple of years, but these weren’t as popular. For the rest of the silent era she was a character actress in features. In the sound era, her parts got smaller and smaller, until she was just a bit player. Her last film was The Women (1939).
For more on silent and slapstick comedy and stars like Flora Finch please check out 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 about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.