Ted McNamara: Hollywood Hibernian

Ted McNamara (1894-1928) was an Irish-Australian vaudeville comedian who first came to to the U.S. with Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company circa 1905, along with Billy Bevan, Alf Goulding, Snub Pollard, Daphne Pollard, et al.  He toured American vaudeville for the next two decades and was in the Broadway shows Up She Goes (1922-23), Glory (1922-23), and Battling Butler (1923-24), the latter of which was adapted into a Buster Keaton feature.

Shore Leave (1925) with Richard Barthelmess and Dorothy Mackaill, was McNamara’s first film. In his next movie, the 1926 adaptation of Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stalling’s What Price Glory? Raoul Walsh paired him with Sammy Cohen. It was a common lark at the time to pair Irish and Jewish comedians (The Cohens and the Kellys, etc). McNamara was subsequently teamed with Cohen in Upstream (1927, directed by John Ford), Colleen (1927, with Madge Bellamy), The Gay Retreat (1927), and Why Sailors Go Wrong (1928). He was also in The Monkey Talks (1927, with Olive Borden), Rich But Honest (1927), Chain Lightning (1927, with Buck Jones), Mother Machree (1927), and The Gateway of the Moon (1928, with Dolores Del Rio).

Much like Larry Semon and Mabel Normand, McNamara was a well known silent comedian, cruelly taken before getting an opportunity to perform in talkies. Pneumonia took him in 1928.

To learn more about vaudeville please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent film comedy  please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.