Busch featured in The Blue Book
of the Screen, 1923
Annie May Busch
18 June 1891
|Died||20 April 1946 (aged 54)|
San Fernando Valley, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Chapel Of The Pines Crematory|
(m. 1915; div. 1922)
John Earl Cassell
(m. 1926; div. 1929)
Thomas C. Tate
(m. 1936; her death 1946)
Mae Busch (18 June 1891 – 20 April 1946) was an Australian-born actress who worked in both silent and sound films in early Hollywood. In the latter part of her career she appeared in many Laurel and Hardy comedies, where she frequently played Hardy's shrewish wife.
Early life and career
Mae Busch was born Annie May Busch in Melbourne, Victoria to popular Australian vaudeville performers Elizabeth Maria Lay and Frederick William Busch. Her mother had been active since 1883 under the stage names Dora Devere and then Dora Busch; she toured India with Hudson's Surprise Party and toured New Zealand twice. They continued to tour with various companies with short breaks when their two children were born, Dorothy in 1889 (who lived for only 4 months) and Annie May in 1891. Following a concert tour of New Zealand, the family left for the USA via Tahiti. They departed on 8 August 1896 and arrived in San Francisco at the end of 1896 or in early 1897.
While her parents were touring the United States, 6-year-old Annie May was placed in a convent school in New Jersey. At the age of 12, she joined her parents as the Busch Devere Trio, which was active from 1903 until 1912. As Mae Busch she performed with her mother in Guy Fletch Bragdon's "The Fixer" to good reviews, and in 1911 they featured in Tom Reeves' "Big Show Burlesque". Mae's big break came in March 1912 when she replaced Lillian Lorraine as the lead female in "Over the River" with Eddie Foy.
Mae's first film appearances were in The Agitator and The Water Nymph, both released in 1912. There is some doubt about Mae being in these films as the production of both films in California appears to clash with commitments in New York. In 1915 she began working at Keystone Studios, where she appeared in comedy two-reelers. Her dalliance with studio chief Mack Sennett famously ended his engagement to actress Mabel Normand—who had actually been Busch's mentor and friend—when Normand walked in on the pair. According to some accounts, Busch, who was known for pinpoint throwing accuracy, inflicted a serious head injury on Normand by striking her with a vase.
At the pinnacle of her film career, Busch was known as the versatile vamp. She starred in such feature films as The Devil's Pass Key (1920) and Foolish Wives (1923), both directed by Erich von Stroheim, and in The Unholy Three (1925), with Lon Chaney. Her career declined abruptly after 1926, when she walked out on her contract at Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer and suffered a nervous breakdown. Afterwards, she found herself working for less prestigious studios such as Gotham and Tiffany, where she was relegated mostly to supporting roles.
In 1927, she was offered a leading role in a Hal Roach two-reeler, Love 'em and Weep, which began her long association with Laurel and Hardy. She appeared in 13 of their comedies, often as shrewish, gold-digging floozies (Chickens Come Home, Come Clean), a volatile wife of Oliver Hardy (Sons of the Desert, Their First Mistake), or more sympathetic roles (Them Thar Hills, Tit for Tat, The Fixer Uppers). Her last role in a Laurel and Hardy film was in The Bohemian Girl, again as a combative spouse of Hardy's, released in 1936. Her film roles after 1936 were often uncredited. Overall, she had roles in approximately 130 motion pictures between 1912 and 1946. Jackie Gleason later mentioned her name on his TV show as "the ever-popular Mae Busch".
In 2014 the believed-lost 1919 film which was the first feature to star Harry Houdini, The Grim Game, was discovered and restored by Rick Schmidlin for Turner Classic Movies; it featured Mae Busch.
Personal life and death
Busch died on 20 April 1946, age 54, at a San Fernando Valley sanitarium where she had been ill for five months with colon cancer. In 1970, her ashes remained unclaimed and a chapter of The Laurel & Hardy Society, the Way Out West Tent, paid for the interment at Chapel of the Pines Crematory.
|1912||The Water Nymph||Alternative title: The Beach Flirt|
|1919||The Grim Game||Ethel Delmead|
|1920||Her Husband's Friends||Clarice|
|1921||A Parisian Scandal||Mamselle Sari|
|1922||Foolish Wives||Princess Vera Petchnikoff|
|Brothers Under the Skin||Flo Bulger|
|Only a Shop Girl||Josie Jerome|
|1923||Souls for Sale||Robina Teele|
|The Christian||Glory Quayle|
|1924||Name the Man||Bessie Collister|
|Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model||Polly Joy|
|Broken Barriers||Irene Kirby|
|Married Flirts||Jill Wetherell|
|The Triflers||Marjorie Stockton|
|1925||The Unholy Three||Rosie O'Grady|
|1925||Camille of the Barbary Coast||Camille|
|1926||Fools of Fashion||Enid Alden|
|1927||Love 'em and Weep||Old flame|
|Husband Hunters||Marie Devere|
|1928||While the City Sleeps||Bessie|
|Unaccustomed As We Are||Mrs. Hardy|
|1931||Chickens Come Home||Ollie's Old Time Flame||Uncredited|
|Fly My Kite||Dan's new wife|
|1932||Their First Mistake||Mrs. Arabella Hardy|
|Doctor X||Cathouse Madame|
|Sons of the Desert||Mrs. Lottie Hardy||Alternative title: Fraternally Yours|
|Dance Girl Dance||Lou Kendall|
|1934||Oliver the Eighth||Widow||Alternative title: The Private Life of Oliver the Eighth|
|The Road to Ruin||Mrs. Monroe||Uncredited|
|Going Bye-Bye!||Butch's girlfriend|
|Them Thar Hills||Mrs. Hall|
|The Live Ghost||Maisie the Vamp, Blonde Floozy|
|1935||Tit for Tat||Grocer's wife|
|The Fixer Uppers||Madame Pierre Gustave|
|1936||The Bohemian Girl||Mrs. Hardy|
|The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand||Mrs. Gironda||15-episode serial|
|1938||Daughter of Shanghai||Lil||Uncredited|
Alternative title: Daughter of the Orient
|The Buccaneer||Bit Role||Uncredited|
|Marie Antoinette||Madame La Motte||Uncredited|
|1942||The Mad Monster||Susan|
|1946||The Blue Dahlia||Jenny – Maid||Uncredited|
|The Bride Wore Boots||Woman||Uncredited|
|1947||Ladies' Man||Woman in Automat||Uncredited|
- Springer, John S.; Hamilton, Jack D. (1974). They Had Faces Then. Citadel Press. ISBN 0806503009.
- Gehring, Wes D. (1990). Laurel and Hardy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 031325172X.
- Smith, Ronald L. (1993). Comic Support. Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0806513993.
- The Age, 20 June 1891, P.5 Accessed 3/12/2016
- Otago Witness (NZ) 24 January 1895 p.37
- Auckland Star 8 August 1896
- New York Herald 28 March 1912
- refer to Mae Busch Link for full details
- Maltin 1973, p. 112
- Mae Basch IMDB
- State of California Death Certificate, County of Los Angeles, District 1801, Registrar's Number 7081
- Way Out West website
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Mae Busch". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- "Death Claims Mae Busch, 54". The Los Angeles Times. p. A1.
- Maltin, Leonard (1973). The Laurel and Hardy Book. New York: Curtis.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mae Busch.|