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May Collins

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May Collins


Collins, May (1906-1955) was the daughter of Miriam O’Leary. She made her Broadway debut on September 11, 1919 in She Would and She Did at the Vanderbilt Theatre. A try-out play with Katharine Cornell followed, which led to her spending the summer of 1919 with Cornell at the Bonstelle Detroit Company. May was back on Broadway that fall in The Outrageous Mrs. Palmer, produced by the Shuberts at the 39th Street Theatre in New York.

She then entered motion pictures in 1921. Her first was The Shark Master for Universal. In the film she played Flame Flower, a young Caucasian girl deified by a South Seas native tribe. Her co-star was Frank Mayo.

May appeared opposite Richard Dix in her second film, All’s Fair in Love (1921) in which she played a young wife hoodwinked into thinking her husband was unfaithful. It was adapted from a play by Thomas Buchanan, and directed by E. Mason Hopper. This film met with some considerable success upon its original showings.

Released in 1922, Little Eva Ascends was a comedy based on a Saturday Evening Post short story. It told the travails of a small time repertory company that tours Uncle Tom’s Cabin to small towns and villages. May’s leading man was juvenile heart throb Gareth Hughes.

Red Hot Romance, also released in 1922, was a fast paced comedy written by Anita Loos and John Emerson. Set in a South American monarchy on the brink of a revolution, May played opposite British actor Basil Sydney and Edward Connelly. It was directed by Victor Flemming.

She returned to the Broadway stage on October 24, 1924 in Clubs are Trumps, produced at the Bijou Theatre. The next season, she played the leading role of Lady Teazel in Sheridan’s School for Scandal at Broadway’s Knickerbocker Theatre. Opening December 6, 1925 it was a lavish revival produced by theatre legends George C. Tyler and Basil Dean. May’s co-stars were Ian Hunter and Henrietta Crosman.

She then spent two years touring Australia, playing the title role in The Trial of Mary Dugan, and returned to Broadway on March 1930 in House Afire at the Little Theatre off Times Square. The fall of that same year saw her in Ladies All, a long run hit that opened at the Morosco Theatre on July 28, 1930. May’s leading man was Preston Foster.

During the run of Ladies All, she married Edmund E. Thomas, a mortgage broker, and following the out of town tryout of Alley Cat in 1934, she retired to domestic life. She reemerged on October 15, 1938, originating the role of Elizabeth Edwards in Abe Lincoln in Illinois at the Plymouth Theatre. Written by Robert Sherwood, directed by Elmer Rice, and designed by Jo Mielziner, the production won the Pulitzer Prize for drama that season. It was May Collins’ longest run on Broadway.

During World War II, with her husband an Air Force captain, May came out of retirement once again to tour in the George Abbott hit Kiss and Tell. In 1945, when May joined the Broadway company of Kiss and Tell at the Biltmore Theatre, it was major news and her "comeback" received enormous publicity.

She participated in an early experiment in television broadcasting in 1945, when Abe Lincoln in Illinois Act II was televised live. Also in the cast were Stephen Courtleigh as Lincon, Wendell K. Philips as Bill Herndon, and Vinton Haworth. Vinton and May were distant cousins. Subsequently, Vinton spelled his last name Hayworth for professional purposes.

After her husband’s discharge from military service, May Collins again retired from the stage. She died of heart disease in 1955.

(click on photo to enlarge)

May Collins-Headshot-B&W-Resized.jpg (117721 bytes)

May Collins-Full length Portrait in white dress-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (111830 bytes)

May Collins with Parrot-Production Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (129449 bytes)


Publicity Photo May appearing in First National Attractions

May Collins in Ladies All-Production Photo-B&W-Cropped & Resized.jpg (250794 bytes)

May Collins as Lady Teazle-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (179901 bytes)

May Collins in Abe Lincoln in Illinois-Production Shot-B&W-Cropped&Resized.jpg (235223 bytes)

in "Ladies All"

as Lady Teazle in
 "The School for Scandal"

as Elizabeth Edwards in
"Abe Lincoln in Illinois"

May Collins-Publicity Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (94280 bytes) May Collins-Studio Portrait-B&W-Resized.jpg (170196 bytes) Miriam O'Leary-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (132419 bytes)
Publicity Photo for "Kiss & Tell" 7-21-1943 Studio Portrait for
"Give and Take"
May's mother
Miriam O'Leary

Joseph Haworth & May Collins

Joseph Haworth and May Collins were second cousins. May was the daughter of Joe’s cousin Miriam O’Leary. She was born three years after Joe’s death.

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