August 13 – Happy Birthday Mary Duncan

MV5BMjI5Mjg1NTU4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg0ODY3MTE@._V1_UY317_CR18,0,214,317_AL_(Here is an excerpt from my birthday post for Mary Duncan, the wife of Amsterdam-born bon vivant and carpet-company heir Laddie Sanford. Both are now buried in the Sanford family plot in the Green Hill Cemetery.)

…She was born in Virginia on August 13, 1895. Her dad was in the military and her real last name was Dungan. She got into acting as a child and made it to the Broadway stage by the time she was fifteen years old. But her father wanted her to become a lawyer so she went to Cornell University as a pre-law student for a year and a half before deciding to return to acting as a career. Her big break came in 1926, when she landed the role of Poppy in the smash hit play, The Shanghai Gesture. The following year she signed a contract with Fox Studios and appeared in Very Confidential her first movie. She would go on to appear in starring roles in a total of sixteen films and was considered a leading actress in her day.

In 1931, while making the movie, Five and Ten, Duncan became friends with the film’s leading lady, Marion Davies. Davies loved polo and took Duncan to a match during a break in the filming, It was at that match that Duncan was introduced to Laddie Sanford. The two were married in 1933 and like Grace Kelly did a few decades later, Duncan retired from her film career and began a long stint as one of this country’s leading…

My complete birthday post for Mary Duncan will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. I also distribute an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that includes the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty  people whose birthdays I recognize each month. Each newsletter also includes an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.

The monthly newsletter is free. If you’d like to receive it, just make sure your name and e-mail address are included on this list.


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