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Myrtle Vail (January 7, 1888 – September 18, 1978), sometimes credited as Myrtle Damerel, was an American actress and writer who was a radio fixture from 1932-1946 thanks to the popular soap opera Myrt and Marge, playing the elder half of the title as well as having created and written the show.
Vail thought of the idea while living in the Chicago area, after having spent several years as a vaudeville performer (often with her husband, George Damerel), basing it largely on her own experiences. She cast herself as Myrtle and her real-life daughter, Donna Damerel, as Marge.
Myrt was the elder, experienced chorus girl taking the young, inexperienced, and innocent Marge under her wing. The sponsor, Wrigley liked the idea and Myrt and Marge debuted in 1932. Tragedy twice affected the Myrtle directly. In 1933, she was injured seriously in an automobile accident, forcing her to turn the show's writing over to a colleague named Charles Thomas, who wrote a storyline having Myrt kidnapped by gangsters, allowing Vail to recuperate completely. Myrt and Marge continued until 1946.
After the show ended, Vail became a low-keyed supporting actress in films, best known for roles in the low-budget cult films A Bucket of Blood (1959) and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), written by her grandson Charles B. Griffith, and directed by Roger Corman, for whom Griffith has written and/or directed several films.
Vail apparently never remarried after her husband's death in 1936. She appeared on television's This Is Your Life in 1960. She can be heard in her radio heyday today thanks to the survival of approximately fifty episodes of Myrt and Marge.
Vail also had a son, George Damerel, who acted on radio, as well as two grandsons.
- Myrt and Marge, "Myrt Has Her First Fitting", otrrlibrary.org, April 3, 1946.
- Donna Damerel profile, imdb.com; accessed December 14, 2014.
- Myrt and Marge profile, imdb.com; accessed December 14, 2014.
- Myrtle Vail at the Internet Movie Database
- Potter, Beth. "Haworth's Notable Characters", Haworth, New Jersey; accessed December 4, 2014.
- Lesser, Jerry (February 7, 1942). "New York" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved February 6, 2015.