Minna Gombell

Minna Marie Gombell (May 28, 1892 April 14, 1973) was an American stage and film actress. She was sometimes billed as Minna Gombel.[1]

Minna Gombell
Minna Gombell in trailer for The Thin Man (1934)
Minna Marie Gombel

(1892-05-28)May 28, 1892
DiedApril 14, 1973(1973-04-14) (aged 80)
Other namesNancy Gardner
Winifred Lee
Years active19121961
Howard Chesham Rumsey
(m. 1916; div. 1921)

Joseph W. Sefton Jr.
(m. 1933; div. 1954)

Myron Coureval Fagan
(m. 19??; died 1972)

Early years

She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of William Gombel and Emma M. Debring Gombel. Her father was a medical doctor who came to the United States from Germany in 1880. Her mother was from Baltimore and was of German descent.[2]

Life and work

Gombell was active in stock theater, starring with troupes in Albany, Atlanta, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.[3] Her Broadway credits include Indiscretion (1928), The Great Power (1928), Ballyhoo (1926), Alloy (1924), Mr. Pitt (1923), Listening in (1922), On the Hiring Line (1919), The Indestructible Wife (1917), Six Months' Option (1917), and My Lady's Garter (1915).[4]

She had a very successful stage career from 1912 as Winifred Lee before being signed by the Fox Film Corporation in the late 1920s. Her first film was Doctors' Wives (1931) in which she played under the name Nancy Gardner, a name given to her by Fox. After this, she spent a time coaching several young actresses before returning to film under her real name.

She appeared in some fifty Hollywood films including: Block-Heads, The Merry Widow, The First Year, Boom Town, High Sierra, Hoop-La, The Thin Man, Doomed Caravan, and The Best Years of Our Lives.

Personal life

Gombell married Howard Chesham Rumsey on March 9, 1916, in New York City. They divorced in 1921.[2]:68 In 1933, Gombell married Joseph W. Sefton Jr., described as "a millionaire banker."[2]:67 They were divorced in 1954.[2]:70 Gombell's third husband was the film writer, producer, and director Myron Coureval Fagan. However, in the book Accustomed to Her Face: Thirty-Five Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood, Axel Nissen disputes the idea of Gombell being married to Fagan because "Fagan already had a wife (and a son) at home in Pelham Manor, New York. He and Florence M. Fagan were married for nearly 50 years, until her death in 1966."[2]:70


On April 14, 1973, Gombell died in Santa Monica. She was buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.[5][2]:70

Partial filmography


  1. Minna Gombel at IBDB
  2. Nissen, Axel (2016). Accustomed to Her Face: Thirty-Five Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood. McFarland. pp. 86–70. ISBN 9781476626062. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  3. "Minna Gombell Has The Usual Luck". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. February 15, 1925. p. 62. Retrieved May 1, 2017 via Newspapers.com.
  4. "("Minna Gombell" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/1973/04/16/archives/minna-gombell-81-of-stage-and-films.html

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