August 15, 1884
Troy, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 3, 1976
Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Jose Ruben (m. 1918–19??; divorced)|
Mary and her younger sister, writer/actress Florence, were born to James H. Ryan, a lawyer, and his wife, Ellen Frances (née McNamara). The sisters adopted the surname of their stepfather, Philip F. Nash, a vaudeville booking executive, who married their mother after the death of their father. Fortuitously the name change would avoid conflict with the other actress with the same name, who achieved Broadway popularity before Nash. Nash attended the Convent of St. Anne in Montreal and trained for acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Stage and film career
She was a noted stage actress in New York and London, and vaudeville. After brief appearances as a dancer at the Herald Square Theatre in 1904, she made her off-Broadway debut on Christmas Day 1905 as Leonora Dunbar in James M. Barrie's Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire, which starred Ethel Barrymore. She remained with Barrymore for two years, appearing together in Captain Jinks and The Silver Box. Her last Broadway appearance was a production of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1933, as "Cassie", which starred Otis Skinner and Fay Bainter. She appeared to acclaim on the London stage. She started her Hollywood career in 1936, appearing in 18 films.
She moved to Hollywood in 1934, where she was in films until 1946. According to Allmovie: "Nash was often cast as seemingly mild-mannered women who turned vicious when challenged, as witness her work in College Scandal (1936) and Charlie Chan in Panama (1940). ... Mary Nash's most sympathetic role was as the long-suffering wife of blustering capitalist J. B. Ball in Easy Living (1937)."
Nash may be best known for two Shirley Temple films, first as Fraulein Rottenmeier in Heidi (1937) and then as Miss Minchin in The Little Princess (1939). She played Katharine Hepburn's socialite mother in both stage and movie productions of The Philadelphia Story (1940). She played a supporting role in the 1936 Academy Award-winning film Come and Get It and had a featured role in In the Meantime, Darling in 1944.
In 1918, she wed French actor, writer and director Jose Ruben (1888–1969); they divorced after a brief marriage.
- The Unbroken Road (1915)
- Tides of Time (1915 short)
- Arms and the Woman (1916)
- Uncertain Lady (1934)
- College Scandal (1935)
- Come and Get It (1936)
- The King and the Chorus Girl (1937)
- Easy Living (1937)
- Heidi (1937)
- Wells Fargo (1937)
- The Little Princess (1939)
- The Rains Came (1939)
- Charlie Chan in Panama (1940)
- Sailor's Lady (1940)
- Gold Rush Maisie (1940)
- The Philadelphia Story (1940)
- Men of Boys Town (1941)
- Calling Dr. Gillespie (1942)
- The Human Comedy (1943)
- The Lady and the Monster (1944)
- Cobra Woman (1944)
- In the Meantime, Darling (1944)
- Yolanda and the Thief (1945)
- Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)
- Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
- Swell Guy (1946)
- Photograph by James Abbe, Captain Applejack, 1921
- Portrait by Ben Solowey, Diana, 1929
- Portrait by Ben Solowey, A Strong Man's House, 1929
- Photograph, Cobra Woman, 1944
- Photograph, 1944
- "Mary Nash Dead; Character Actress Of Stage and Film". New York Times. December 8, 1976. Retrieved 2010-10-07. "Mary Nash, whose 40-year career as an actress included stardom on Broadway and success in motion pictures and vaudeville, died Friday at her home in Brentwood, Calif. She was 92 years old."
- Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel C. Blum Profile #103 c. 1952 (this 2nd edition c. 1954)
- Hal Erickson, Allmovie, 2006
- Mary Nash at Find a Grave
- Mary Nash at the Internet Movie Database
- Mary Nash at the Internet Broadway Database
- Mary Nash at NY Public Library Billy Rose collection
- Mary Nash in Vanity Fair October 1920 taken by Dorothy Wilding
- Mary Nash in Vanity Fair March 1924 wearing large plumed headdress taken by Edward Steichen