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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,618

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This is the grave of Mary Howard.

Born in Independence, Kansas in 1913, Howard grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was interested in dance as a little girl, which of course makes her no different than millions of other little girls. But the family then moved to New York. Her older sisters both got job with Ziegfeld Follies, so dancing talent clearly ran in the family. She got a gig with Ziegfeld Follies too. Doing a bit of acting too, Louis Mayer signed Howard to a film contract.

In truth, Howard didn’t do much as an actor. Her first films were uncredited roles. the first appropriately being 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld. She was uncredited in her second role too, 1937’s Torture Money, which actually won the Academy Award for Best Short Film. But by the late 30s, she began to get meatier roles. Probably the most, or at least the one I remember, was her playing Ann Rutledge in 1940’s Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Other relatively major roles for her were in 1941’s Wild Man of Borneo and Riders of the Purple Sage, from the same year. Her last film was 1942’s The Lovers of Edgar Allan Poe, but even her she was about the 5th named actor.

Howard retired from the screen in 1942. She went on to help found the USO to entertain troops in World War II. In 1945, she married a wealthy theater producer named Alfred de Llagre and after that she was mostly involved in charity stuff, including being a founding member of  Recording for the Blind, as well as raising their children. She died in 2009, at the age of 94.

This isn’t much of a post, but let’s hear it for all the minor actors out there who make our lives better through their work, even though we forget who they are or barely notice and then they leave Hollywood for whatever reason they have to do so.

Mary Howard is buried in Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Manhattan, New York.

If you would like this series to visit other people Howard worked with on Abe Lincoln in Illinois, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Raymond Massey (Lincoln) is in New Haven, Connecticut and Gene Lockhart (Douglas) is in Culver City, California. Previous posts in this series are archived here and here.

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