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Oscar Shaw (born Oscar Schwartz, October 11, 1887, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – died March 6, 1967, in Little Neck, New York), was a stage and screen actor and singer, remembered primarily today for his role as Bob Adams in the first film starring the Marx Bros., The Cocoanuts (1929). United States census records show that Shaw was already working as a stage actor in 1910, while still living with his mother, brother, and stepfather.
In 1913, Shaw married Mary Louise Givler (a native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania), in England, where they both appeared in a show called the "First American Ragtime Review" at the London Opera House. The couple lived in the Village of Great Neck Estates, and in 1937, later moved to the Thomaston section of Great Neck, first in a private home, and later lived in an apartment building on Welwyn Road.
His wife died March 31, 1964, at the age of 77. Shaw died on March 6, 1967 at the age of 79. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In addition to selling his Myrtle Drive home in 1937, Shaw settled a lawsuit with an actress, Florence Roberts (stage name: Etna Ross), who brought a $50,000 lawsuit against Shaw, who allegedly had thrown her down a staircase while the two worked together in a road company. The suit was settled in January 1937.
Shaw sold his home on 9 Myrtle Drive in March 1937. It is not known if the sale of his home had anything to do with the settlement of the lawsuit from two months earlier that year.
Events in Shaw's life
Here is a brief chronology of some of Oscar Shaw's shows and movies:
- In 1915, he appeared as Dick Rivers in the Princess Theatre Show, Very Good, Eddie, with music by Jerome Kern and libretto by Guy Bolton.
- In 1917, he appeared in the Jerome Kern musical, Leave It to Jane, by Kern and Bolton, with lyrics by P. G. Wodehouse.
- In 1919, he appeared as Tommy Tilford in The Rose of China with lyrics by P. G. Wodehouse.
- In 1920, he was Bradford Adams in the Victor Jacobi musical The Half Moon.
- In 1921, he appeared in three shows: Ziegfeld 9 O'Clock Frolic, as Robert Barker in the Vincent Youmans and Arthur Francis (Ira Gershwin) musical comedy, Two Little Girls in Blue, and as Billy van Courtland in the 1921 Kern musical, Good Morning, Dearie.
- In 1923, he appeared as Bastien in the play with music, One Kiss.
- In 1924, he appeared in two shows: as Laddie Munn in Dear Sir and in The Music Box Revue, with book, music, and lyrics by Irving Berlin. As a duet with Grace Moore, he sang the famous Berlin song, "All Alone", which was not written for the revue but interpolated into the show. The same year he appeared in the film, The Great White Way.
- In 1925, he was in the film The King on Main Street with Adolphe Menjou.
- In 1926, he appeared in two films, Going Crooked and Upstage and also appeared as Jimmy Winter in the Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse, George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin musical, Oh, Kay! with Gertrude Lawrence and Victor Moore.
- In 1927, he appeared as Gerald Brooks in The Five O'Clock Girl, with Mary Eaton and in 1929, he starred as Bob Adams in the film version of the Marx Brothers’ musical, The Cocoanuts again with Mary Eaton. Together they sang the Irving Berlin song, "When My Dreams Come True".
- In 1930, he starred as Todd Addison in the last De Sylva, Brown and Henderson musical, Flying High, with Bert Lahr, in which he sang "Thank Your Father" and "Happy Landing".
- In 1931, he appeared in the National Company of the Gershwin musical, Of Thee I Sing and as Steve Merrick in Everybody's Welcome.
- In 1935, he appeared as Duke Bradford in the comedy A Lady Detained, which ran for only 13 performances.
- In 1936, he was in the comedy, A Private Affair, which ran for 28 performances.
- In 1940, he appeared as Charlie Goodrich in the Victor Young film, Rhythm on the River, with Bing Crosby, Mary Martin, Basil Rathbone, and Oscar Levant.
- In 1941, he appeared as Monte Trenton, Jr., in the play Pie in the Sky, which ran for only 6 performances.