Saturday, November 5, 2011

Miss Peggy Shannon

I wanted to squeeze in an entry about Peggy because I was showing my grave photos the other day, and came across hers, and no one knew who she was (understandable). They just saw she had died fairly young. I just kept saying, "Look up her photos, she was an absolutely beautiful showgirl and actress." I wish we could have seen more from her, but like so many others, she became too friendly with the bottle.

Peggy Shannon was born Winona Sammon on January 10, 1907 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Her parents were Edward and Nannie Sammon. She was later joined by younger sister, Carol.

When she was still in high school, she went to New York to visit an aunt. It was while on this visit, she was hired to be a Ziegfeld showgirl. She stayed with Ziegfeld and other Broadway shows until 1927 when she was discovered by B.P. Schulberg, the production head of Paramount. She packed her bags and followed him out to Hollywood.

She was already being hyped up as the next Clara Bow, the next "It Girl." It was prophetic almost, because just two days after arriving in Hollywood, she was offered a role that had been Clara's in the film, The Secret Call. Clara had suffered a nervous breakdown, and couldn't continue with the film, so she was replaced.

Peggy, to put it gently, worked her ass off. She would sometimes work on a film 10 to 16 hours a day! And other times when she would finish one film, she would have to go right into making another one.

In 1932, she signed a contract with Fox. Unfortunately, she was already getting the reputation of being difficult and fussy on set, and it was also around this time that her drinking problem started to be come, well...a problem.

In 1934, she went back to New York to appear in a few more Broadway shows. She only lasted about a year before dropping out to what she claimed was a tooth infection, but others knew was really her alcoholism.

She soon couldn't hide the fact that she was an alcoholic, and so the job offers got fewer and fewer. She made her last film appearance in 1940 in the film Triple Justice.

Peggy Shannon passed away on May 11, 1941. Her husband and a friend of his had come home to find her slumped over the kitchen table with a cigarette still in her mouth and a glass in her hand. She had been dead for about 12 hours when he got there. She was only 34. The autopsy revealed she died from a heart attack, a liver ailment, and just being generally worn out.

Peggy was married twice. Her first husband was Alan Davis in 1926. They divorced in 1940. Her second husband was cameraman Albert Roberts who she married months after her first divorce. They were married until her death. Sadly, three weeks after Peggy died, her husband shot himself in the same spot where she had died. His suicide note read, "I am very much in love with my Peggy Shannon. In this spot she died, so in reverence to her, you will find me in the same spot." He was not buried next to her though. He was buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale. 

She was interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

She was not the only one slated to replace Clara Bow. She shared that honor with actress Sylvia Sidney.

In July of 1938, apparently she and her sister were both injured in a car accident when they hit another car head on.

While she was a film actress, Peggy was quite the fashion plate. She liked to sport the newest styles before they came into fashion. Fans looked to her to find out what the new looks were.

After her daughter died, and then her son in law, she demanded a police investigation into the matter. She wanted private investigates to really look into how her daughter died.

"[Hollywood] is a sort of Looking Glass Town. They do everything backward. If you try desperately to get somewhere, you find yourself further away from your goal, but if you decide it's impossible and stop hoping, there you are at the winning line." ~ Peggy Shannon


  1. wowzers! You can see in the pictures how the bottle took a toll. She was so beautiful in the early pictures and so jaded looking in the later ones but still so striking. Why can't Hollywood look at their own backdoor and do some original films based on these great people of yesteryear. I still remember Frances...the film and it is riviting!

  2. She was just absolutely gorgeous, Birgit. I agree about the films, and especially "Frances." What a great movie about such a tragic story. I think nowadays too they like to be accurate instead of back in the classic films where they just wanted everything to be happy-happy. I say we all get together and write them and star in them, who's with me?!

  3. Terrific! I'm so glad you remembered Peggy. Such a beautiful woman and a tragic story. I really want to visit her grave next time I'm in LA.

  4. Well thank you, sir!

    BTW, this doesn't happen to the the gentleman I met at Forest Lawn in June, is it?

  5. Such a sad story. Just watched Peggy Shannon in the circus film "Fixer Dugan" and enjoyed her part enough to research information about her. Thank you for this enlightening post.

    Tossing It Out