Louise Glaum: A Vamp in Vaudeville


Today is the birthday of Louise Glaum (1888-1970). Born in Baltimore and raised in Los Angeles, Glaum began her performing career on the stage, touring with stock companies from 1907 through 1911 in typical fare like The Squaw Man. In 1911, her younger sister died so she returned home to be with her family. By that time however, remaining in Los Angeles was hardly an impediment to the career of a budding young actress. Her first role was in the Al Christie western comedy When the Heart Calls at Nestor Studios in 1912, then spent a couple of years playing in a number of comedies, westerns and melodramas for a number of studios before a long stretch supporting Augustus Carney in Universal Ike comedies in 1914. It was on one of these pictures that she met director Harry Edwards (best known for his collaborations with Harry Langdon). Glaum and Edwards were married from 1916 to 1919.

She began working for Thomas Ince in 1915, acting in prestige productions like The Three Musketeers (1916, she played Milady), and several westerns, including half a dozen opposite the then-reigning king of the genre William S. Hart. But she became best known as one of the principal vamps of the era, starring in Sahara (1919), Sex (1920), Love Madness (1920) and The Leopard Woman (1920), et al.

In 1921, she left films to headline in big time vaudeville, appearing in two dramatic playlets on the Loew’s circuit, “The Sins of Julia Boyd” by Paul Gerard Smith, and the self-penned “The Web”. In 1925, she appeared in one last film Fifty-Fifty with Lionel Barrymore. The following year she married movie theatre owner Zachary Harris. In 1928 she returned to live theatre herself, self-producing plays in which she starred and owning and managing several of her own theatres in Los Angeles through the 1950s. She passed away in 1970. 

Here is the sort of thing posterity knows her best for…check out her spider dress in 1916’s The Wolf Woman:

To learn more about the history of vaudeville, in which Louise Glaum performed, 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 please also check out Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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