The Tragedy of a Woman Named Allyn King

We do not know if the Woman in Question’s name is homonymic with that of the Borscht Belt comedian. Her father’s name was Allen, and she was certainly named to honor him, but whether hers was pronounced like his, or with the feminine long “e”, I can’t speak to. The latter is likely. Allyne King (1899-1930) was from North Carolina; I have a southern aunt who happens to be named Allene!

At any rate, Allyn King was a singing comedienne in vaudeville who had made it to Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in New York by age 15 in 1914. This got her cast in numerous Zeigfeld shows: the Midnight Frolic of 1915 and 1920, the Follies of 1916, 1917 and 1918, the Ziegfeld Nine O’Clock Revue (1919) and Ziegfeld Girls of 1920. She graduated to her first speaking role in a legit play in Avery Hopwood’s Ladies’ Night (1920-21). The Fight Blade (1923) with Richard Barthelmess, was her first and only film. She then returned to Broadway in Moonlight (1924) by William Le Baron and Con Conrad, followed by Florida Girl (1925) and 90 Horse Power (1926), each of which had short runs.

Worries about weight gain in 1927 led to a starvation diet, speed pills, and near death. Contractually committed to a certain weight, she’d been frantic to mantain her ideal size in order to keep working. The episode resulted in a two year convalescent period, after which she returned to New York. Unable to obtain stage work, she sadly leapt out of fifth story window in early 1930, dying of her injuries two days later. Compounding her sorrows no doubt was the fact that her father, a medical doctor, had been murdered by the boyfriend of one his patients a decade earlier.

To learn more about vaudeville, where Allyn King got her start, 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.