Mary Nash

Mary Nash (born Mary Honora Ryan, August 15, 1884 – December 3, 1976) was an American actress.[2]

Mary Nash
Nash in 1909
Mary Honora Ryan

(1884-08-15)August 15, 1884
DiedDecember 3, 1976(1976-12-03) (aged 92)
Resting placeSt. Agnes Cemetery[1]
Years active1904-1946
Spouse(s)Jose Ruben (1888-1969) married 1918, divorced soon after
RelativesFlorence Nash(sister)

Early life

Mary and her younger sister, writer/actress Florence, were born to James H. Ryan, a lawyer, and his wife, Ellen Frances (née McNamara).[3] The sisters adopted the surname of their stepfather, Philip F. Nash, a vaudeville booking executive, who married their mother after the death of their father. Fortuitously, the name change would avoid conflict with actress Mary Ryan, who achieved Broadway popularity before Nash. Nash attended the Convent of St. Anne in Montreal and trained for acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.[2] Nash was Catholic[4].

Stage and film career

She was a noted stage actress in New York and London, and vaudeville. After brief appearances as a dancer at the Herald Square Theatre in 1904, she made her off-Broadway debut on Christmas Day 1905 as Leonora Dunbar in James M. Barrie's Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire, which starred Ethel Barrymore. She remained with Barrymore for two years, appearing together in Captain Jinks and The Silver Box. Her last Broadway appearance was a production of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1933 as Cassie, which starred Otis Skinner and Fay Bainter. She appeared to acclaim on the London stage. She started her Hollywood career in 1936, appearing in 18 films.[2]

She moved to Hollywood in 1934, where she was in films until 1946. According to Allmovie: "Nash was often cast as seemingly mild-mannered women who turned vicious when challenged, as witness her work in College Scandal (1936) and Charlie Chan in Panama (1940)...Mary Nash's most sympathetic role was as the long-suffering wife of blustering capitalist J.B. Ball in Easy Living (1937)."[5] In the 1940 film Gold Rush Maisie, she played the patient, forbearing wife and mother of a family, forced by the Dust Bowl and Depression to abandon their farm in Arkansas, that has spent five years traveling through the country in search of seasonal work.

Nash may be best known for two Shirley Temple films, first as Fraulein Rottenmeier in Heidi (1937) and then as Miss Minchin in The Little Princess (1939). She played Katharine Hepburn's socialite mother in the movie version of The Philadelphia Story (1940). She played a supporting role in the 1936 Academy Award-winning film Come and Get It and had a featured role in the 1944 film In the Meantime, Darling.

Personal life

In 1918, she wed French actor, writer and director Jose Ruben (1888–1969); they divorced after a brief marriage.

A Democrat, she supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election[6].




  1. Mack mausoleum (top of the hill near the corner), St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, Albany, NY., Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 34193-34194). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  2. "Mary Nash Dead; Character Actress Of Stage and Film". New York Times. December 8, 1976. Retrieved 2010-10-07. Mary Nash, whose 40-year career as an actress included stardom on Broadway and success in motion pictures and vaudeville, died Friday at her home in Brentwood, Calif. She was 92 years old.
  3. Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel C. Blum Profile #103 c. 1952 (this 2nd edition c. 1954)
  4. Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  5. Hal Erickson, Allmovie, 2006
  6. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
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