Lyle Tayo: Livened Many a Hal Roach Short

Here’s an intriguing figure who will be well known to fans of Our Gang, Laurel and Hardy and other Hal Roach comedies. Lyle (pronounced “Lily”) Shipman (1889-1982) was born in Elmdale, Kansas and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. In show business she was sometimes billed as Lyle Tayo, sometimes as Lyle Barton.

The first credit we find for her is the 1911 Broadway show The Girl of My Dreams, which also featured John Hyams and Leila McIntyre. Thanks to reader S.R. Wright for discovering some regional credits for the intervening years: she was in the Chicago production of Victor Herbert’s The Princess Pat in 1916,  and appeared in The Siren at the Orpheum in Los Angeles in 1919.

In 1921 she began to work for Roach. She was a supporting player in over 50 films over a 13 year period. Her first was the Harold Lloyd comedy Among Those Present (1921). With Laurel and Hardy she appeared in The Battle of the Century (1927), Their Purple Moment (1928), Should Married Men Go Home? (1928), Two Tars (1928), and Big Business (1929). Classic Our Gang films in which she performs: Shivering Shakespeare (1930), Dogs is Dogs (1931), Readin’ and Writin’ (1932) and For Pete’s Sake (1934), among many others. You can also see her with other Roach stars, like Max Davidson in Call of the Cuckoo (1927) and Charley Chase in Movie Night (1929).

Tayo is said to have married in 1934 and retired from acting, although she does return as an extra in the 1948 film The Miracle of the Bells with Fred MacMurray. Fellow Roach alum Snub Pollard also a has a bit part in the film.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy film, read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube