Today is the birthday of Mary Nash (Mary Ryan, 1884-1976). Her stage name comes from her stepfather Philip F. Nash, an important vaudeville booker for F.F. Proctor, B.F. Keith and the United Booking Office. After a couple of years as a dancer, Mary Nash broke onto the stage as an actress in a series of plays starring Ethel Barrymore from 1905 through 1907. Nash was an important Broadway and big time vaudeville actress through 1933. In 1934, she headed out to Hollywood, where she worked as a character actress through 1946, appearing in such films as Easy Living (1937), two Shirley Temple pictures (Heidi, 1937, and The Little Princess, 1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), The Human Comedy (1943), and Bob Hope’s Monsieur Beaucaire (1946). Her sister, Florence Nash, was also an actress and writer, and also appeared in vaudeville.
For more on vaudeville history and performers like Mary Nash, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.