Today is the birthday of Dagmar Oakland (Edna Andersen, 1893-1989), one half of the vaudeville team the Oakland Sisters. Her sister Vivien is better known today — she’ll get her own post here in due course, for she was in many classic comedies. The girls initially performed in vaudeville as the Anker Sisters, then changed their name to “Oakland” as a tribute to their home town. For a time they performed with the Boston Juveniles, later billed as the Juvenile Bostonians. In 1915, their careers were assured when they made it all the way to the Ziegfeld Follies, along with Ed Wynn, W.C. Fields, Bert Williams, Leon Errol, Ina Claire, Olive Thomas, Ann Pennington and many others.
This is the point where the team split up. Vivien went on to her film career. Dagmar remained on Broadway for another 15 years, with great parts in eight shows, notably The Student Prince (1924-26), Show Boat (1927-1929), and The Wonder Bar (1931). Then she joined her sister in Hollywood, where she worked for another 15 years, although with much less success. She normally had walk-ons and bit parts. One notable exception was her part as the pretty manicurist in The Barber Shop (1933), with her old Follies co-star W.C. Fields.
To learn more 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.
To learn more about 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