Today is the birthday of Toby Wing (Martha Virginia Wing, 1915-2001). The child of an assistant director at Paramount, she and her sister Pat began getting roles in silent films in 1924. The good-looking Toby (nicknamed after a family horse) became one of the Goldwyn Girls at the age of 16 and started getting parts in Mack Sennett comedy shorts in 1932. In 42nd Street (1933) she was prominently featured in a number opposite Dick Powell. This ought to have proved a turning point, but it didn’t. Though Wing was to become well-known in Hollywood, her notoriety did not translate into regular decent movie star parts. She did graduate from the chorus to speaking roles, she remained best known as a sex symbol and model, playing memorable bit roles and walk ons in major films, and gradually working her way to some leads in some B movies and shorts. She was also well known for the men she dated, including Jackie Coogan, Maurice Chevalier, Alfred Vanderbilt, Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. and Pinky Tonlin. In 1938 she retired from show business to marry airline pilot Dick Merrill. See her list of films here.
For more on early comedy film history, including the work of The Three Stooges, don’t miss my book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, available from amazon.com etc etc etc