Georgia Caine, Of Broadway and Bashful Bend

The best remembered work of Georgia Caine (1876-1964) came at the end of her career. Her turn as Barbara Stanwyck’s scheming mother in Remember the Night (1940) resulted in her becoming part of the Preston Sturges stock company, and she appeared in small roles in nearly every one of his self-directed pictures from Christmas in July (1940) to The Beautiful Blond of Bashful Bend (1949).

Though she appeared in nearly 100 movies, Caine was a much more significant star of the stage. A San Francisco native, she was the daughter of two professional actors and followed them into Shakespearean roles at the age of 17 (circa 1893). Her first two Broadway shows were with the Rogers Brothers: A Reign of Error, and The Rogers Brothers on Wall Street, both in 1899. Over two dozen Broadway shows, mostly comedies, ensured over the next three-plus decades, including Sally in Our Alley (1902) with Marie Cahill, Peggy from Paris (1903, in which she starred), The Earl and the Girl (1905) with Eddie Foy, the original Broadway production of The Merry Widow (1907), George M. Cohan’s Mary (1920) and Little Nellie Kelly (1922), Be Yourself (1924), and Smiles (1930) with Fred and Adele Astaire. her last time on Broadway was in A Slight Case of Murder (1935) by Damon Runyon and Howard Lindsay.

Meanwhile Caine had begun appearing in films in 1930, albeit in much smaller roles. In addition to the Sturges comedies you can see her in Dante’s Inferno (1935), The Big Broadcast of 1936, Jezebel (1938), The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938), Dodge City (1939), Juarez (1939), Tower of London (1939), Swannee River (1939), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Gentleman Jim (1942), Mr. Skeffinton (1944), and the vaudeville yarn Give My Regards to Broadway (1948). An uncredited walk-on in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) with James Cagney, was her last screen appearance. After that, she kissed tomorrow goodbye, though she lived another twelve years.

For more on show business history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.