Mary Welch

Mary Welch (1922 – May 31, 1958)[1] was an American stage actress on Broadway. She was married to actor David White. Welch died due to an internal hemorrhage during her second childbirth.

Mary Welch
Born1922 (1922)
DiedMay 31, 1958(1958-05-31) (aged 35–36)
New York City, US
OccupationStage actress

Biography and career

Welch was born in Charleston, North Carolina, in 1922, later growing up in San Diego. She attended UCLA, where she won awards as a drama student.[2] At UCLA, she earned degrees in English literature and drama.[3] Welch later moved to New York in 1944, where she starred in her first Broadway play as Jo in an adaptation of Little Women. In 1947, she was a part of the Theatre Guild's play A Moon for the Misbegotten. She starred in the first production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1947, replacing Kim Hunter. Welch later starred in The Solid Gold Cadillac (1953) and then was a part of Sunrise at Campobello (1957) at the time of her death.[2] Her other roles include the plays The Joyous Season, Joy to the World, and Dream Girl.[3] She was married to the actor David White.[4] A clause in Welch's contract, from playwright Eugene O'Neill, for A Moon for the Misbegotten stated that she had to gain at least 50 pounds (23 kg) to reach 180 pounds (82 kg) for the role.[5][6] O'Neill also originally stated that she looked too normal for the role.[5][6]


Welch died on May 31, 1958, at Mount Sinai Hospital from an internal hemorrhage that started while she was pregnant with her second child. She was a patient at the hospital for several weeks. Welch died during childbirth.[4][7] At the time of her death, she was performing in the production Sunrise at Campobello. After her death, her husband raised their only child Jonathan.[4] Harold Clurman of The Nation wrote, "This stupid and horrible clause may very well have led to the actress's death shortly after the play's production".[5] In 2005, journalist Laura Shea wrote in The Eugene O'Neill Review, "While a significant, if temporary, weight gain is not beneficial to one's health, it is unlikely that this played a role in her untimely death over ten years after A Moon for the Misbegotten.[5]


  1. "Mary Welch". Playbill. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  2. Murphy, Brenda; Monteiro, George (December 13, 2016). Eugene O'Neill Remembered. University of Alabama Press. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-8173-1931-1.
  3. "Inside the Playbill: Mary Welch". Playbill. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  4. Hedges, Chris (July 28, 2009). Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. Knopf Canada. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-307-39858-1.
  5. Shea, Laura (2005). "O'Neill, the Theatre Guild, and "A Moon for the Misbegotten"". The Eugene O'Neill Review. 27: 76–97. JSTOR 29784776.
  6. Gelb, Arthur; Gelb, Barbara (November 1, 2016). By Women Possessed: A Life of Eugene O'Neill. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 401. ISBN 978-0-698-17068-1.
  7. "Mary Welch, Broadway Actress, Dies". The Los Angeles Times. June 2, 1952. Retrieved August 23, 2019 via
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