Beryl Mercer

Beryl Mercer (13 August 1882 – 28 July 1939) was an actress of stage and screen who was based in the United States.[1]

Beryl Mercer
Born(1882-08-13)13 August 1882
Seville, Spain
Died28 July 1939(1939-07-28) (aged 56)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park
Years active1916–1939
Maitland Paisley
(m. 1896; div. 1909)

Holmes Herbert
(m. 1909; div. 19??)


Beryl Mercer was born to British parents in Seville on 13 August 1882. Her father was Edward Sheppard Mercer, said to be Spanish despite his name, and her mother was the actress Effie (née Martin).[2][note 1][3]

She became a child actor, making her debut on 14 August 1886 at the Theatre Royal, Yarmouth, when she was four. She returned to the stage when she was ten. In London she appeared in The Darling of the Gods and the production by Oscar Asche of A Midsummer Night's Dream.[2] In 1906 she appeared as a Kaffir slave in the West End play The Shulamite.[4] She travelled with this play to the United States, where she received good reviews.[2] That 1906 play also marked her Broadway debut.[5]

Mercer was honored by Dowager Queen Alexandra for her work as an entertainer during World War I.[6]

Mercer's film debut came in The Christian.[7] She was best known as a film actress for her motherly roles. She played Lew Ayres' mother in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and James Cagney's mother in The Public Enemy (1930). She also regularly appeared as a grandmother or cook or maid in some high-profile films. She appeared in more than 50 films between 1916 and 1939 but her career was at a peak in the 1930s when she regularly appeared in several films per year. Mercer appeared in Cavalcade (1933), Jane Eyre, The Little Minister, and The Richest Girl in the World (all 1934). She was in two versions of Three Live Ghosts (1929 and 1935) and The Little Princess (1939) as Queen Victoria.

Marriages and death

Mercer was married to Maitland Paisley early in her life. Her only other marriage was to actor Holmes Herbert in the late 1920s. She had one child, Joan Mercer, later Bitting, born on 16 September 1917.[8]

On 28 July, 1939, Mercer died in Santa Monica, California, aged 56, following surgery for an undisclosed ailment. She was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[9] She was survived by her daughter.[10]



  1. The reference work An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930 says of Mercer, "... her mother was the famed actor Beryl Montague."


  1. Beryl Mercer bio @
  2. Nissen, Axel (21 February 2012). Mothers, Mammies and Old Maids: Twenty-Five Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood. McFarland. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-7864-9045-5. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  3. Lowe, Denise (2014). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930. Routledge. ISBN 978-1317718963. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  4. Wearing, J. P. (5 December 2013). The London Stage 1900–1909: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. Scarecrow Press. p. 295. ISBN 978-0-8108-9294-1. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  5. "Beryl Mercer". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  6. "Her Stage Career Began in Childhood". Detroit Free Press. 3 December 1930. p. 18. Retrieved 13 March 2018 via
  7. "The Show Window". Hartford Courant. 16 September 1930. p. 19. Retrieved 12 March 2018 via
  8. "Joan Mercer Bitting, 92; Founding Member of St. Matthew". Palisadian-Post. 10 September 2009. Archived from the original on 20 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  9. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 52. ISBN 978-0786409839. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  10. "Death Calls Beryl Mercer". Los Angeles Times. 29 July 1939. p. Part II - Page 1. Retrieved 13 March 2018 via
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