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Arthur Byron

Biography: 

(1872-1943)

During his fifty year career as an actor, producer, and playwright, Arthur W. Byron embodied an ideal of American virility and force. Tall, handsome, with architecturally regular facial features, perfect posture, and hair that was the envy of his rivals, particularly in his latter years, Byron emerged as a star in the 1890s in "Major Andre," a historical novel about the English gentleman spy of the Revolution. He was a classic leading man, capable of playing farce as well as comedy and tragedy. Whether playing a misogynist author of tracts on the inferiority of women in the comedy, "The Weaker Sex," or the socialist taxi driver turned capitalist mogul in the Molinar satire, "One, Two, Three," Byron put himself wholly into the role and created convincingly distinct characters.

Born into a family of players in the New York, he first appeared on Broadway in 1890, commencing a career that had him playing approximately 10,000 performances as 300 characters. He was generally reckoned the most consistently employed male performer on the American stage during the first half of the 20th century. After 40 years of successes such as "The Boomerang," "The Little Minister," "The Lion and the Mouse," "Petticoats and Bayonets," "Lady Windemere's Fan," "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife," he entered films in 1932 and had a solid career as a senior supporting actor.

Byron's eminence on stage and screen, as well as the respect that he enjoyed among his colleagues, was evinced in his unopposed election as president of Actor’s Equity in 1938. He brought stability and unanimity of purpose to that notably fractious organization. David S. Shields/ALS