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Madge Kennedy

Biography: 

(1891-1987)

A lyrical performer with an aptitude for creating moods on stage and screen, Madge Kennedy was born in Chicago, raised in Los Angeles, and introduced to the theatre in New York. As a child in Riverside, California, Madge Kennedy trained as a dancer, and won most of the contests held in the region. In 1910 Kenneth Webb and his brother, both authors of Columbia University musicals, decided to put on a short run of a piece they wrote themselves. Renting the Carnegie Lyceum in New York City, they staged "The Dream Girl," and put singing, dancing, acting Madge Kennedy as the love interest caught in the midst of a revolution in a nameless South American country. She was a hit and immediately signed as the lead in Cecil B. DeMille's play, "The Genius."

Kennedy had a distinct and winsome quality that marked her out as something special, and she developed a following among women for her roles in "Little Miss Brown" and "Fair and Warmer." Sam Goldwyn became enamored with her big brown soulful eyes, and thought that they would work magic on the screen. Madge Kennedy became a film star and played in two hits of 1917, "Baby Mine" and "Nearly Married."

As a comic actress, she was the least prone to slapstick of her period, and was among the best ensemble performers of the early 1920s. She would cycle in and out of movies, plays, radio, throughout the remainder of her career. David S. Shields/ALS