Arthur Byron and Family

You may know Arthur Byron (also billed as A.S. Byron, 1872-1943) from some of the talkies he made towards the end of his career. He played sypporting roles in a couple of dozen pictures between 1932 and 1936, things like The Mummy (1932), 20,000 years in Sing-Sing (1932), Gabriel Over the White House (1933), Stand Up and Cheer (1934), and The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936).

As was not unusual at the time, Byron was first and foremost a creature of the stage. His father was actor Oliver Doud Byron (1842-1920), a Baltimore native who’d appeared on stage with Joseph Jefferson, Edwin Booth, John Wilkes Booth, Charlotte Cushman, Laura Keene, etc. His mother was Irish born actress Kate Byron (Mary Kate Crehan, 1846-1920), who’d acted with many of the same, as well as Mrs. John Drew, in addition ot being the sister of the more famous Ada Rehan. So Arthur was fated to go onstage. His professional career began in 1889, and he appeared in over 300 productions, alongside the likes of Mrs. Fiske, Ethel Barrymore, Katharine Cornell, Maude Adams, and John Gielgud. Of his many dozens of Broadway turns, a few are worth mentioning. He was in Clyde Fitch’s The Stubborness of Geraldine (1902), which was parodied by Weber and Fields as The Stickiness of Gelatine. His longest running Broadway play was Three for Tea (1918-1919). He was also in the revue Padlocks of 1927 with Texas Guinan, George Raft, Lillian Roth, Jay C. Flippen et al. He frequently appeared in plays with his wife, Kathryn Keyes.

Prior to 1932, Byron had appeared in two films, Edison’s Nervy Nat Kiss the Bride (1904), and a 1929 Vitaphone short with his three daughters, Arthur Byron and Company in a Family Affair. In 1936, Byron left Hollywood to return to Broadway, playing The Inquisitor in Shaw’s, Saint Joan and Polonius in Hamlet (both 1936) and appearing in two additional plays, Stop-Over (1938) and (1939) and Jeremiah (1939). He served as the fourth President of Actors’ Equity, from 1938 to 1940.

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