With a Name Like “Gladys Feldman” She HAD to Be Good

Broadway performer Gladys Feldman (1886-1974) was born on this day.

Originally from Evanston, Illinois, Feldman had spent some time in vaudeville. The earliest reference to her I can find to her online has her playing the Sheedy Time in Fall River in 1909. By 1910, she was a Broadway chorus girl; her first show was The Girl and the Kaiser (1910-1911). Next came La Belle Paree (1911) with Al Jolson, and The Fascinating Widow (1911), with Julian Eltinge, in which she had a speaking role. She was a featured performer in four editions of the Ziegfeld Follies (1914, 1915, 1916, 1918), and thereafter she was a Broadway star. Among her notable shows: The Gold Diggers (1919-1921), the original Merton of the Movies (1922-1923), the original stage adaptation of The Great Gatsby (1926), and Counselor at Law (1931-32) with Paul Muni. She also dabbled in films, with much less success: she has bit parts in Shams of Society (1921), West of the Water Tower (1923), and Breaking In (1925).

Feldman’s last professional credit was the Broadway play Good Men and True (1935). That year she married actor Horace Braham, whom she’d met while appearing in The Gold Diggers. Now 49, she retired from performing, although she kept a hand in two significant ways. She hosted a local radio show on WMCA-AM in New York, and from 1940 through 1965 she served as the president of the Ziegfeld Club, the organization for Ziegfeld alums. (This occasionally put her back before the spotlight, as when she appeared for a birthday tribute to Eddie Cantor in 1942 at the Hollywood Theatre). Braham died in 1955; she outlived him by nearly 20 years.

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