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
Mae Busch (born Annie May 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, frequently playing Hardy's shrewish wife.
Early life and career
Busch was born 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 United States 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 are reputed to be in The Agitator and The Water Nymph, both released in 1912. There is some doubt about Mae's being in these films, though, as the production of both films in California appears to clash with Busch's 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 Grim Game, the believed-lost 1919 film that was the first feature to star Harry Houdini, was discovered and restored by Rick Schmidlin for Turner Classic Movies. Busch appears, credited as Bush.
Personal life and death
In the 1970s it was discovered that her ashes had remained unclaimed; the Way Out West Tent, a chapter of The Sons of the Desert (the international Laurel and Hardy appreciation society), paid for their interment at Chapel of the Pines Crematory. The memorial plaque is incorrectly dated 1901.
|1912||The Water Nymph||(uncredited?)||Alternative title: The Beach Flirt|
|1915||Mabel and Fatty's Married Life||(uncredited)|
|1919||The Grim Game||Ethel Delmead||Credited as Mae Bush|
|1920||Her Husband's Friends||Clarice|
|The Devil's Pass Key||La Belle Odera|
|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|
|The Miracle of Life||Janet Howell|
|1927||Love 'em and Weep||Old flame|
|Husband Hunters||Marie Devere|
|Perch of the Devil||Ida Hook|
|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|
|Cheating Blondes||Mrs. Jennie Carter|
|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|
|1940||Women Without Names||Rose|
|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 0-8065-0300-9.
- Gehring, Wes D. (1990). Laurel and Hardy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-25172-X.
- Smith, Ronald L. (1993). Comic Support. Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8065-1399-3.
- 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
- Maltin 1973, p. 112
- King, Susan (26 March 2015). "Classic Hollywood: Once thought lost, Harry Houdini's 'Grim Game' film reappears". Los Angeles Times.
- State of California Death Certificate, County of Los Angeles, District 1801, Registrar's Number 7081
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame – Mae Busch". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- "Mae Busch". Way Out West Tent.
- "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.|