Margaret Irving: From “The Follies” to “Aunt Gus”

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Today is the birthday of Margaret Irving (1898-1988). Those Baby Boomers who remember Irving as an old lady on television will be astonished to know that she started out as a Broadway Beauty (see above). Her debut was the long-running Fred Stone musical Jack O’Lantern (1917-1918) in which she played The Lady of Dreams”. There followed the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 and 1920 and the Music Box Revue of 1921 and 1922.  She played the role of Mrs. Whitehouse in both the stage and screen versions of the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers, for which she is probably best known (her face if not not her name) today. That’s her on the left:

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Through the 30s and 40s she divided her time between Hollywood and Broadway. Notable films include San Francisco (1936), Wife vs. Secretary (1936), and the Abbott and Costello comedy In Society (1944).

During the 1950s, she was best known as “Aunt Gus” on the now-forgotten Jackie Cooper sit-com The People’s Choice (1955-1958), created and produced by Irving Brecher, who wrote the screenplays for the Marx Brothers’ At the Circus (1939) and Go West (1940), and created the radio and tv shows The Life of Riley.

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Her last credit was a guest shot on 77 Sunset Strip in 1960.

For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold

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