Polly of the Circus (The Other Polly Walker)

Our title refers to the fact that the women we write about this morning is not the same as the fetching actress who played Atia on Rome a few years back, fitting though the latter may be for a great deal of attention.

This Polly Walker was born to a circus family in Chicago in 1904. Her uncle was a famous clown, tumbler, and equestrian named Al Armer (I’ve also seen it rendered Albert Armor). When Polly was three, her dad (who played the bagpipes) was performing with an act called the Scotch PIpers under the big top when he was shot dead by a drunken patron who either didn’t like Scotsman, or didn’t like kilts. Polly’s Uncle Al assisted with her upbringing and saw to it that she was trained in the arts of song and dance. Polly ended up leaving the circus to go into vaudeville, which in turn brought her to Broadway, where her first show was the Ziegfeld revue No Foolin’ (1926). This was followed by the George M. Cohan shows The Merry Malones (1927-28) and Billie (1928-29).

At this stage, Hollywood beckoned. Walker co-starred with Jack Oakie in the Technicolor musical Hit the Deck. Her last Broadway show was Hello, Paris (1930) produced by the Shuberts. She next went to the West End to star in the shows Out of the Bottle and Lovely Lady. While in England, she made her last film, Sleepless Nights (1932), opposite Stanley Lupino. Walker was married in 1935 to London physician Frederick Moran and subsequently retired from show business. It was just as well, really. There was already a star named Polly Moran. 

Thanks to Lena the Hyena for sleuthing out much of the information in this post.

To learn more about vaudeville and circus, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.