A native of Santa Barbara, California and trained in drama and dance in Chicago, Margaret Mower intensely desired to become an actress. Yet her path to stardom was decidedly unusual. A devotee of barefoot Greek dancing, she was hired to be a chorus dancer in Granville Barker's outdoor production of "The Trojan Women" that toured the Eastern universities. At Princeton the leading actress Chrystal Herne forgot the proper time of the performance. With the auditorium filling, Barker asked in despair if anyone knew the part of Cassandra. Mower stepped forward, performed it flawlessly, and impressed Barker so much that he determined to make her a member of his repertory company. But talking up the skills of the young actress to others in the profession caused Mower to be approached and hired by the Washington Square Players before Barker could organize his troupe.
Mower played in Wedekind's "The Tenor," the lead in "The Magical City," and "The Blue Bird." Commercial producers became interested in her, and she was cast in "Helena's Husbands," a hit that transformed her from an art-house celebrity to a Broadway name. Her temperament however was not disposed to commercial plays, and she only undertook roles such as "Seven Keys to Baldpate" when the string of failed serious dramas became depressing.
Ambitious directors such as Arthur Hopkins admired Mower. And she discovered over the course of a long and interesting theatrical career that she had a particular talent for comedy, despite her intellectual predisposition to problem plays and philosophical drama. David S. Shields/ALS