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Margaret McWade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Margaret McWade
The Blot 02 1921.jpg
Still with Louis Calhern and Margaret McWade in The Blot (1921)
Margaret May Fish

(1871-09-03)September 3, 1871
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedApril 1, 1956(1956-04-01) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other namesMargaret May
Years active1892-1945
(m. 1897; died 1943)

Margaret McWade (born Margaret May Fish; September 3, 1871 – April 1, 1956) was an American stage and film actress. She began her career in vaudeville in the early 1890s. Her most memorable role was as one of The Pixilated Sisters, a comedic stage act with actress Margaret Seddon. Later in 1936, they reprised their roles in the movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.


Margaret May Fish was born September 3, 1871 in Chicago, Illinois, the eldest of three daughters. A number of short biographies state that Fish was born in 1872;[citation needed] however, the 1900 U.S. Census reports her birth in 1871.[1]


During her early career, Margaret May Fish went by the stage name Margaret May.[2][3][4] In the late 1890s, while performing in vaudeville, she met fellow actress Margaret Seddon. The two actresses teamed to create a stage act known as 'The Pixillated Sisters'. The act proved to be a hit for the duo. Years later they would reprise 'The Pixilated Sisters' in the 1936 movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

On September 4, 1897, Margaret married actor Edward McWade. Margaret and her husband appeared in a number of stage performances together in Boston and New York before their marriage. Their earliest stage appearance together was in March 1892 in Boston. They were cast as supporting characters in County Fair at the Whitney Opera House. Until late 1919, Margaret continued to use her stage name Margaret May.[5]

Margaret McWade made her screen debut in the 1914 silent film The Drama of Heyville, starring Marc McDermott and directed by Ashley Miller. She was under contract to The Edison Film Company and was later picked up by the Vitagraph Film Company. She acted in a total of 59 films from 1914 to 1954.[citation needed]

Between films, she was a prolific stage actress, touring the U.S. with various theatrical companies. Margaret also toured in theater shows with her husband Edward, several which he wrote. In April 1901, Edward McWade wrote and produced the play Winchester at the American Theater in New York. The play was based upon an event during the Civil War. Edward McWade wrote a supporting role for his wife. In 1902, he wrote the play The Land of Mystery, a romantic drama in which Margaret also had a role.[6][4]

In 1922, Margaret was cast in the movie The Blot, produced and directed by Lois Weber. The Blot is considered by many critics to be Weber's greatest film. McWade played Mrs. Griggs, and she is described in reviews as the, “old mother hubbard, shouldering most of the burden for the penny pinching family.” The movie received critical acclaim, which paved the way for more acting roles. McWade most often was described as playing the mother, aunt, older sister, spinster, and later in her career, the grandmother. In the Louisiana newspaper Monroe Morning World on June 5, 1938, she is described physically as “the one with the angular face and black hair”.[7][8][9]

In 1935, producers approached both McWade and Seddon and asked them to reprise their roles as The Pixilated Sisters for the 1936 movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, starring Gary Cooper and directed by Frank Capra. In the film, the two actresses play sisters who believe that Cooper's character is “pixilated”. Reprising these characters set off a brief firestorm of stage and film performances for the duo. In The Corsicana Daily Sun, McWade is quoted regarding having played the Pixilated Sisters in the movie: “it’s a one chance in a million, like something out of a book. It’s not hard to understand. It wasn’t we who clicked individually or even collectively. It was a grand part. If you recall, we turned the tide by our testimony in favor of Gary Cooper at an insanity hearing. He was a beloved character, and by helping him we helped ourselves.”[citation needed]

The two actresses teamed for a variety of films throughout the late 1930s and into the 1940s, often playing spinster sisters in comedic roles written for them, such as One Man's Bonus. After 1936, they often were billed in newspapers and posters as those “beloved Pixilated Sisters”.[10][11]

Later years and death

Two years after performing in her last movie, Margaret McWade died on April 1, 1956 in Los Angeles at the age of 83. She was buried in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois in the Rosehill Cemetery.[12]

Stage performances

  • 1892: The County Fair. The Whitney Opera House; Boston, MA; ** Edward McWade in production.[13]
  • 1893: Comic Stage Sketches. Boston, MA; **Edward McWade in production.[14]
  • 1901: Winchester. The American Theater, New York; Written by Edward McWade.[6]
  • 1902: The Land of Mystery. New York Theater Company; New York; Written by husband Edward McWade.[4]
  • 1912: Robert A. Hudson Theater; San Francisco, CA; New York Stage Production Company.[15]
  • 1925: The Painted Lady.The William Fox Players. Touring theatrical show. Bar Harbor Maine.[16]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ 1900, United States Census, West Township, Cook County, Illinois; pg. 13, family 208, dwelling 849, lines 31-34; June 12, 1900.
  2. ^ Edward McWade, Margaret May, theater review, Fitchburg [MA] Sentinel, May 30, 1892.
  3. ^ Edward McWade, Margaret May theater review, Boston, MA, Boston Sunday Post, January 23, 1893.
  4. ^ a b c Margaret May theater review, New York Times, May 2, 1902.
  5. ^ Edward McWard, Margaret May theater review, Fitchburg, MA, Fitchburg Sentinel, March 30, 1892.
  6. ^ a b Margaret May theater review, New York Times, April 21, 1901.
  7. ^ "Strangers click as film sisters". Monroe Morning World. Louisiana, Monroe. June 5, 1938. p. 26. Retrieved April 19, 2021 – via
  8. ^ Lois Weber movie review,, October 31, 2014.
  9. ^ Lois Weber, The Blot movie review, Medicine Hat Daily News, May 29, 1922, pg. 6.
  10. ^ Margaret McWade movie review, New York, New York, The New York Times; July 31, 1936; pg. 22.
  11. ^ Margaret McWade movie review, The Corsicana [TX] Daily Sun, November 14, 1936.
  12. ^ Death Record for Margaret May McWade, September 3, 1956, California Department of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics.
  13. ^ Theater review, Fitchburg [MA] Sentinel, March 30, 1892.
  14. ^ Theater review, Boston Sunday Post, January 23, 1893.
  15. ^ Theater review, San Francisco Call, June 13, 1912, pg. 15.
  16. ^ Theater Review, "The Painted Lady", Bar Harbor Times, July 15, 1925.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 June 2021, at 22:06
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