Edna May (1878-1948)

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Edna May (1878-1948)

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Some known facts:
Born 2nd September 1878 - Syracuse, New York (USA)
Died 1st January 1948 - Lausanne (Switzerland)
Real Name Edna May Pettie
Child star from age 5.
Sisters Jane and Marguerite were also actresses.
1895 - Married Fred Titus (divorced 1904).
1907 - Married millionaire Oscar Lewisholm (died 1917).

ss_virgo cy_tiger   Star Signs: Virgo (Earth) / Year of the Tiger

Played in: The Belle of Mayfair

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"Nelly Neil"
By C. S. McLellan and Ivan Caryll.
Produced at the Aldwych Theatre, London - 10th January, 1907.


Miss Edna May, whose candour in admitting that she appreciated the value of publicity startled the town a few months ago, is now the one and only star of the Aldwych Theatre, where she appeared last night in a new musical play written by Mr C. S. McLellan (author of "The Belle of New York") and composed by Mr. Ivan Caryll.

"Nelly Neil" is the name of it, so much is clear, but we defy Mr. Frohman or the author himself to classify the thing. It begins in the same vein as "The Belle of New York." Then it drifts into the kind of musical comedy made famous by Mr. Hicks. A touch of Paul Rubens, and we presently are on the fringe of grand opera. Next comes a beautiful, picture that reminds one of His Majesty's, and then we are back in musical comedy again, only this time it is concocted after the recipe of Mr. George Edwardes - turn and turn about.

Is "Nelly Neil" funny? Well, there are several comedians. There is Mr. Joseph Coyne, a young American with a spoilt-boy manner who speaks in jerks. Mr. Coyne scored some laughs last night. There is Mr. E. Dagnall, quite out of place, but willing. There is Mr. Robb Harwood, without the ghost of a chance. Is it pretty? Well, there is Miss Edna May, and Miss May is always pretty. There is Miss Mollie Lowell, and Miss Kitty Gordon, and there are forty or fifty ladies whose names one has never heard before. The dresses are all that dresses should be, and the scenes are "ever so nice." Mr. Caryll's music is perhaps the best part of the show, for it is not in the least amateurish and is often delightful.

Miss May's numbers are of the light order, save for one sanctimonious song, to which we refer later. The second act, by the way, has a sanctimonious flavour throughout that scarcely, tends to gaiety.


The scene of the first act is a fruit-shop in Regent-street. Nelly Neil, one of the shop-girls, is "socialising" London. We see many members of the "Smart Set" dressed as flower-girls and labourers. Enter Billy Ricketts (Mr. Joseph Coyne). He sings a poor, song, followed by a dance of ladies in yellow. Enter Edna. Uproar. She wears a sort of Salvation Army hat out for a holiday, and sings of the Park Lane magnates who may, perhaps, follow her (Hymn No. ***). She expounds her theory: 'Socialists must wear dresses that are simple but seductive.'

Enter Mr. Dagnall, as the same character that he made successful in "The Amateur Socialist." Dance by the Sisters Tizzle. Enter Miss Mollie Lowell. Enter Mary Brough and Robb Harwood as Nelly's mother and father. Suffragette quartette and comic dance. Enter Kitty Gordon. Some talk of bombs. Finale.

There are three scenes in the second act. The first is Simplicity Farm. Everybody is leading the simple life. Dainty "Butterfly" song. Song and dance, Mr. Coyne. Encored. General feeling that the piece is beginning. Enter Edna in a blue dress and large blue hat. Applause. She explains, in a pretty song, that she wishes to be called pretty. Encored. Yards of dull dialogue. Enter chorus in gipsy costume. Miss Gordon sings a good song.

We pass on to a lane. Enter Edna in white and red. Song with chorus of schoolboys. Encored. We grow serious. Scene III. The Chorus in green. Pretty picture. Enter Edna in cloth "of gold and cornflowers. (Hymn No. *** repeated.) Curtain.

Act. III.: The Savoy Hotel. Chorus frantically energetic. Enter Edna in uniform. Song. Waving of arms. Drums and trumpets. Coon stuff. Turns. More turns. Usual ending. Curtain. Business done - Miss Edna May "starred."

The Daily Mail (London) - 11th January, 1907.

"The School Girl"
By Henry Hamilton and Paul Potter.
Produced at Daly's Theatre, New York - 1st September, 1904.

In the presence of an audience that tested the capacity of Daly's Theater, Edna May of London, England, and Syracuse, N. Y., was seen tonight in the best of her American productions, "The School Girl."

It was largely a theatrical audience, with a fair sprinkling of "flrst nighters." Between the acts could be heard on all sides favorable comment from persons inclined to be critical. Despite the fact that Edna May recently submitted to a throat operation, she was in good voice and in her characteristic demure style caught the house early in the first act when she sang "Daughters of the Guard." Not until the second act, however, did she receive the ovation of the evening. It was "My Little Canoe" song that pleased the house most and in this selection the young actress was exceedingly gracious and attractive. She was recalled a half dozen times.

It is plainly evidant that Edna May is more dramatic and sings better than when she appeared in "The Belle of New York" and in "The Girl From Up There." In the convent scene she looks much the same as the Salvation Army girl of old. Later in the piece she wears some striking gowns and is vivacious and pretty.

As one of the American girls, her sister, Jane May, does some good work and received applause in "Needle in the Haystack" song. The part Jane May plays, together with eight young women, gorgeously costumed, smacks of the old but ever pleasing "Floradora."

There are some dull moments in "The School Girl;" that is to be expected. For a first production as a whole, it is bright, well staged and fully as good as the average musical comedy. The men of the company furnished good support.

Edna May received many congratulatory cablegrams and telegrams. William Gillette, Anna Held. John Drew and Daniel Frohman were among the boxholders. Edna May's father and mother Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Pettie, Miss Marguerite Pettie and Adelbert Pettie of Syracuse occupied seats in the parquet.

Former Syracuse people in the audience included Dr. and Mrs. P. J. Gibbons, Nicholas Latterner, jr., and Attorney H. Carl Mersereau. After the performance Edna May was driven to her hotel, accompanied by her family. The carriage was filled with flowers from friends In Syracuse and New York.


Syracuse Post-Standard, 4th September, 1904.

Movie Credits (source
1911 - Forgotten
1916 - Salvation Joan [Joan Crawford]

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