Edna Aug (1878-1938) is an intriguing enigma. Described in her NY Times obit as “one of the most successful character actresses and vaudeville comediennes of her day” and a “pre-war favorite”, she left behind little tangible legacy. That she was big time there is no doubt. One gleans that she did indeed spend most of her time on vaudeville and music hall stages, and there is undoubtedly much to be dug out of reviews and trade papers on the subject by someone far more Aug-centric than I am. ‘Til someone takes up that torch, a few tidbits:
Aug was of Cincinnati’s German community. Her first professional engagement was in a touring production of a show called Rush City, presumably named after the town in Minnesota. Circa 1899 she made a splash in a production titled A Dangerous Maid, probably the source of the character she played in vaudeville, a scrubwoman. She was also noted for an Anna Held impression. Her Broadway shows included The Girl from Up There (1901), with Charles T. Aldrich, Harry Davenport and Montgomery & Stone; Mistakes Will Happen (1906); The Show Shop (1914-15) with Ned Sparks; and Raymond Hitchcock’s Words and Music (1917-18) with Marion Davies, Richard Carle and the Dooley Family. She also made one silent film Where D’Ye Get That Stuff? (1916). In addition to her constant presence on the vaudeville circuits, she is said to have toured England and the Continent 17 times, and to have performed for King Edward VII.
Aug was an early supporter of Eva Tanguay, dubbing her “The Funniest Woman in Vaudeville”. Aug retired to a country farmhouse in the Catskills circa 1924. Booth Tarkington reportedly tried to coax her out of retirement by writing an original play for called Madame Sunshine, but apparently she wouldn’t budge. She lived alone, apparently contentedly, Far from the Madding Crowd.
To learn more about vaudeville, please consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous
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