Myrtle Lind: From Mack Sennett to Matrimony

Myrtle Lind (1898-1993) spent most of her career as an ensemble player with Mack Sennett and other comedy studios. Raised in Mankato, Minnesota, she attended local drama schools and appeared in regional theatre productions before proceeding to Hollywood, where her talent and beauty got her work right away with Sennett at age 18.

Typically, Lind’s progress is described by many as proceeding logically from Bathing Girl to supporting player to star or co-star in comedy shorts, but in reality (as was the case for many working in in the field) from the beginning to the end she was cast as all three from picture to picture. In other words, from 1916 through 1921, you were roughly as likely to see her as the female lead, or fourth or fifth billed, or an extra, sometimes a Bathing Girl. That’s the nature of true ensemble work. In Sennett’s comedies she worked with the likes of Charles Murray, Louise Fazenda, Ford Sterling, Dot Farley, Alice Davenport, Bobby Vernon, Gloria Swanson, Harry Gribbon, Raymond Griffith, Chester Conklin, Ben Turpin, and Billy Armstrong. Movies in which she plays the female lead included A Maiden’s Trust (1917), False to the Finish (1917), The Little Widow (1919), and No Mother to Guide Him (1919).  Her biggest part for Sennett (Triangle) is in In Nancy Comes Home (1918): she plays the title character (John Gilbert is seventh in the billing!) . The best remembered comedies she appeared in for Sennett are A Yankee Doodle in Berlin and Among Those Present, both 1919, although she has small parts in each. On a couple of occasions Lind also worked at King Bee with Billy West and Oliver Hardy in The Straight and Narrow, and Playmates, both directed by Charley Chase (Charles Parrott) in 1918.

In 1920, Lind married a wealthy broker named Frank A. Gessell, but the liaison only lasted two months. She returned to Sennett to make one last comedy short, the presciently titled The Unhappy Finish, in 1921. She then left the world of comedy shorts to take the female lead in the western serial Winners of the West, which dramatized the story of John C. Fremont. Her last film was the 1922 feature Forget Me Not, in which she was sixth billed as “The Other Girl”.

After this, her 30th film. Lind retired to marry a man named William Coleman. By 1929, she was on to her third husband Harold S. Stevenson, with whom she remained until his passing in 1970. Lind herself passed away in Ft. Lauderdale 23 years later.

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