Getting Into Luella Gear

Looks a little like Evelyn Nesbitt here!

Comedienne Luella Gear (1897-1980) wasn’t in vaudeville but she worked with so many who were that she seems a veteran by proxy. She was almost entirely a creature of the Broadway stage, having begun performing there when she was 20. Her screen appearances are few and far between; movie buffs are most likely to know her from the Fred and Ginger musical Carefree (1938).

Gear’s Broadway successes included Love o’ MIke (1917) with Clifton Webb and Peggy Wood, The Gold Diggers (1919-21), Poppy (1923-24) with W.C. Fields, Gay Divorce (1932-33) with Fred Astaire, Claire Luce, Eric Blore, and Grace Moore; Life Begins at 8:40 (1934-35) with Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Hope Dare, Brian Donlevy, Dixie Dunbar, and Mary Howard; On Your Toes (1936-37) with Ray Bolger and Monty Woolley; Streets of Paris (1939-40) with Abbott and Costello, Bobby Clark, Carmen Miranda, Gower Champion, Think a Drink Hoffman, and Margaret Irving; Crazy with the Heat (1941) with Willie Howard, Al Kelly, Victor Borge, Count Me In (1942) which she also toured with USO, and Sabrina Fair (1953-54) with Joseph Cotten.

Screen appearances included the silent Adam and Eva (1923) with Marion Davies and T. Roy Barnes; the comedy short The Poor Fish (1933) with Leon Errol and Lynn Overman; Carefree (1938) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; Phffft (1954) with Judy Holiday, Jack Lemmon, and Jack Carson; and TV productions of Lady in the Dark (1954) and Juno and the Paycock (1960). Her last professional credit was a 1964 episode of The Defenders.

For more on show biz history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy, read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.