Esther Muir: Peaked in “A Day at the Races”

A shout out to chorine, actress, and screen beauty Esther Muir (1903-1995) today.

Muir started out as a model in her native Andes, New York, which is located sort of midway between Binghamton (75 miles to the west), Albany (90 miles to the east), and Cooperstown (50 miles to the north). In the early to mid ’20s she is said to have been in the choruses of the Greenwich Village Follies and Earl Carroll’s Vanities, and in the play Battling Butler with Charlie Ruggles (soon to be a Buster Keaton movie). She is not listed in the IBDB credits for those productions, but she may have been in the road companies. On Broadway, she did appear in the Eddie Buzzell show Lady Fingers (1929) with Buzzell and Ruth Gordon; My Girl Friday (1929) with Nat Pendleton; and The International Revue (1930) with Gertrude Lawrence, Harry Richman, Florence Moore, Jack Pearl and Jans and Whalen. While she was appearing in My Girl Friday, Walter Winchell introduced her to Busby Berkley; the pair were married from 1929 to 1931.

Muir’s first film was a George Le Maire short called Joy Ride (1929). Nearly 50 films followed, the most notable of which are probably her performances in So This is Africa (1933) with Wheeler and Woolsey, and A Day at the Races (1937) with the Marx Brothers.

Her biggest claim to fame, and she’s in some of the best scenes in the movie

Unfortunately, her film career was a struggle and for the most part she got bit roles. You can see her in small parts in Broadway Thru a Keyhole (1933), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Fury (1936), and Honky Tonk (1941). She’s often cast as chorus girls, arm candy, fast women, and the like. Her last film was X Marks the Spot (1942).

In 1934 Muir married songwriter and producer Sam Coslow, Their daughter married actor Ted Sorel. Coslow and Muir divorced in 1948. Starting in the 1950s, Muir made her money in real estate.

To find out more about the history of show biz, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy, read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube,