A Film Star Named Flugrath

Edna Flugrath (1892-1966) was the older sister of better remembered silent screen actresses Viola Dana and Shirley Mason (both of whom wisely changed their name for show business.) Like Viola, Flugrath had started out as a child actor in vaudeville and with stock companies. Naturally, her stage career was much longer, and paved the way for her siblings. She started out in films shortly after her sisters (even though they were only kids), in 1912, appearing in dozens of short films for Edison. Among these were Fred Nankivel’s Uncle Mun comedies, based on his comic strip, which we wrote about here. By 1914 she had moved to England, making films with director Harold M. Shaw for the London Film Company. These included a 1914 version of A Christmas Carol (playing Bob Cratchit’s daughter Belle), and the title role in The Incomparable Mistress Belaire (1914, remade as Sweet Kitty Bellaire with Claudia Dell in 1930).

Flugrath married Shaw in 1916 and made films with him in South Africa through the end of the decade, returning to the U.K. in 1920. Her last film was The Social Code (1923) starring her sister Viola. Shaw died in a car accident three years later. Flugrath later married an oil baron and moved far away from the movie business — and her sisters.

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