Gertrude McCoy

Revision as of 20:00, 19 November 2016 by Fogterop (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

(b. Sugar Valley, Georgia, 30/06/1890 – d. Atlanta, Georgia, 17/07/1967). Actress, scriptwriter. Though she was born in Georgia, Idia Gertrude Lyons spent her youth in Oxford, Tennessee. The story goes that when she was just eight years old, a touring theatrical company gave her a chance to perform in one of their plays, which set her off on a theatrical career. As a teenager, she first acted with Lulu Glazer’s company and then with that of Eddie Foy. In 1911 she joined the Edison Company and, as Gertrude McCoy, acted in more than 125 shorts directed by the likes of Charles Brabin, John H. Collins, Walter Edwin and Ashley Miller. For several she wrote the screenplay as well. She left Edison late in 1915 and after that made no long-term commitments to any studio. In May 1915, Chicago’s The Daybook enthused: “The public loves her for her beauty, her personality and the intense earnestness that lies behind her dramatic work.”

One of the films in which she acted at Edison was A Fresh Air Romance (1912), directed by Harold M. Shaw, who later came to South Africa for African Film Productions. She only made a few features in the United States, including The Blue Bird (1918), directed by Maurice Tourneur, and most of them were produced in Great Britain, including three directed by her husband, actor Duncan McRae (1875-1931), who had been with her at Edison and whom she married in 1919. In England her co-stars included Clive Brook, Seymour Hicks and C. Aubrey Smith, as well as Stephen Ewart, who had preceded her to South Africa. In her last film, directed by Walter Summers, she played Lady Hamilton in Nelson (1926) opposite Cedric Hardwicke.

In between she came to South Africa to appear in Sam’s Kid (Leander De Cordova/1921), with Dick Cruikshanks, Hayford Hobbs and M.A. Wetherell. Interestingly, soon afterwards she made a film in The Netherlands entitled Gij Zult Niet Doden, in which Paul de Groot also had a role. In 1915 a theatre on Fulton Avenue in Baltimore was named after her by the owner, who clearly was a great admirer of the beautiful actress, but in 1927, after she had retired from the screen, its name was changed. In 1926 she returned to the United States to look after her invalid mother. She died at the age of 77 as Mrs. Gertrude L. McRae in her home state of Georgia. (FO)


The Daybook, Chicago, 17 May 1915

Photo-Play Review, March-July 1915

Redlands Daily Facts, 18 July 1967

Willis, John - Screen world 1968

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities M

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page