Today is the birthday of Frances Lee (Myrna Tibbets, 1906-2000). Originally from Iowa, she was scouted and hired for Gus Edwards’ travelling vaudeville act. She was a chorus girl in the Ziegfeld Follies and was a vaudeville partner with Billy Dooley. In 1925, the pair began working for the Christie Film Company although Christie split them up. Lee was usually paired in short comedies with Bobby Vernon, with the bonus of an occasional feature, like Divorce Made Easy (1929) with Douglas Maclean, Marie Prevost, Johnny Arthur and Dot Farley, directed by Neal Burns. In 1927 she was voted one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Almost the entirety of her career was spent with Christie, at least for the four or five years when it was going strong. With the coming of sound she also worked for Roach and Educational, but by 1931, her ship had sailed. She did a couple of B movies and by 1934 and 1935 she was down to bit parts, and she called it a day. Her later years were spent as an interior decorator and an instructor.
For more on comedy film history 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.