Sarah Padden: The Clod

A wink and a nod to stage and screen character actress Sarah Padden (1881-1967). Half English/ half Irish, Padden immigrated to the U.S. as a child. During her stage career she supported Otis Skinner in his productions regionally and on Broadway. She also toured the Orpheum Circuit with a one act play called The Clod in which she played the title character, a rural farm wife.

Padden was 35 when she began appearing in films. She acquired nearly 200 screen credits over nearly 35 years, normally in small supporting parts, as nurses, landladies, aunts and the like. Some notable parts included Ma McClune in Blondie of the Follies (1932), Mary the Cook in Doctor Bull (1933) with Will Rogers, the prison matron in The Sin of Nora Moran (1933) with Zita Johann (1933), a governess in Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo, Lowizie in Private Snuff Smith (1941) with Bud Duncan, Mom Palooka in the Joe Palooka films of the ’40s, and Ma Riley on The Life of Riley TV show. She’s in some horror classics such as Mad Love (1935) and The Mad Monster (1942). Her last stage credit was in the original 1935 Broadway production of Ayn Rand’s Night of January 16; last screen credit was a 1958 episode of a tv show called The Gray Ghost.

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