- (1880-1965)Born in Philadelphia, Mary Boland became one of the most durable comic actresses of the Broadway stage in the first half of the 20th century. She made her debut in A Social Highwayman in Detroit in 1901, after which she toured with stock companies until her first New York appearance in Strongheart (1905), for which she won good reviews and a two-year run. Her initial fame derived from her physical appeal and light touch in roles requiring allure, including such parts in The Ranger (1907) and When Knights Were Bold (1907), before producer Charles Frohman cast her as John Drew's leading lady in a series of plays, most notably Jack Straw (1908), Inconstant George (1909), Smith (1910), The Perplexed Husband (1912), Much Ado About Nothing (1913), The Will (1913), and A Scrap of Paper (1914). Shortly before Frohman died in the sinking of the Lusitania, Boland left his management to star in My Lady's Dress (1914). In Booth Tarkington's Clarence (1919), she played Mrs. Wheeler, the first of a long line of dizzy society matrons that characterized her next 30 years on stage and screen. During the 1920s, she appeared in The Torch-Bearers (1922), Meet the Wife (1923), and Cradle Snatchers (1925). When sound motion pictures began, Boland appeared in over 50 films, but returned notably to Broadway for The Vinegar Tree (1930), and two musicals, Face the Music (1932) and Jubilee (1935). Despite success in these, Boland's returns to the stage became rare, although she was well-received as Mrs. Malaprop in a 1942 revival of The Rivals and in her last appearance in Don Appell's short-lived comedy Lullaby (1954).
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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