Thanhouser Biography: After Thanhouser

Her Career After Thanhouser: Variety, July 10, 1914, carried this item: “The withdrawal of James Durkin, director, and Maude Fealy, leading woman, from the ranks of the Thanhouser Film Co. comes as a big surprise to the movie world. Mr. Durkin and Miss Fealy are not deserting the pictures, but will, very likely, branch out with a new company of their own, featuring Miss Fealy. Ralph Cummings is slated as Durkin’s successor with the Thanhouser.” After leaving the Thanhouser Film Corporation, Miss Fealy went to Detroit, where she joined the Washington Theatre stock company, with whom she was seen on stage in August.

The Moving Picture World, October 16, 1915, stated that for Knickerbocker Star Features, Miss Fealy would appear in The Girl from Tim’s Place, and, in blithe disregard for the facts, went on to inform readers: “Miss Fealy is a well-known figure with the legitimate stage, and The Girl from Tim’s Place marks her initial appearance before the moving picture public.”

In early 1916 she was a headliner on stage at Proctor’s Theatre in Mount Vernon, New York, in a playlet, When the Tide Turned. Miss Fealy appeared in The Immortal Flame, released by Ivan Film in March 1916, possibly the film that was being produced at the Pathé studios as described above. In December 1916 she joined the Jesse Lasky Picture Company to star with Theodore Roberts in a feature film for the Paramount program. She remained with Lasky in 1917.

The October 1916 Motion Picture News Studio Directory noted that Miss Fealy was 5’1″ tall, weighed 110 pounds, and had brown hair and dark blue eyes. At the time she lived at 206 West 52nd Street, New York City, and her pastime diversions included swimming and writing. She spoke German and French in addition to her native language.

By early June 1917, Maude Fealy assembled a company of stage players for work on the stage at the Lakeside Theatre in Denver, where such productions as Sauce for the Goose, Her Own Money, Baby Mine, and a four-act play from her own pen, Shadow Lights, were staged. On September 1, 1918, The Little Teacher, a comedy drama, opened at the Grand Theatre in Kansas City, with Miss Fealy as the star. Later, the production traveled to the West Coast. In the 1920s she was on stage in numerous plays, including the 1928 Chicago productions at the National Theatre of Dancing Mothers and Madame X.

In the 1930s she was involved in the Los Angeles Federal Theatre Project, where she became the center of a bitter controversy (the nature of which was not disclosed in articles preserved in the Robinson Locke Collection and consulted for the present biography) and was demoted to a job in the sewing division of the Works Progress Administration. During the same decade she was seen in such films as Laugh and Get Rich, The Buccaneer, and Southern Pacific. In the early 1940s, Maude Fealy returned to Denver, where she taught dramatics. Later, she moved to California and opened a dramatic studio in Hollywood. Among her students were Edwina Booth and Nanette Fabray. In 1954 her stepfather retired. He was hospitalized in Pueblo, Colorado, and later died after a prolonged illness. Her mother passed away in 1955.

Published in: on June 8, 2007 at 3:34 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. The Fealy School of Dramatic Expression • Grand Rapids, MI
    In late-1926 to mid-1928 Maude and her mother Margaret set up an actors studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the height of Stock Theater. The School of Acting was named; The Fealy School of Dramatic Expression at 222 E Fulton St, Grand Rapids, MI. The students performed with The William Wright Players, The Broadway Players and The Civic Players. Such in their number includes Stage and Film stars; Spencer Tracy, Dean Jagger and Selena Royal, daughter of playwright Edwin Milton Royal. In addition my grandmother Lucille Mae Cunningham began with Margaret and Maude as a 6 year old student and was with them the entire time in Grand Rapids. I have a few photos and flyers from that time.

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