Friday, September 19, 2014

Edna Flugrath

Edna, Viola Dana, and Shirley Mason

And now on to the final Flugrath sister, the eldest, Edna. She may have gotten started first in her career but she eventually became the sister that is the least remembered today. Not anymore! We shall remember her here and now!

Edna Marie Flugrath was born on December 29, 1892 in Brooklyn, New York. 

She was the eldest child born to Emil, a printer, and Mary Flugrath. Her younger brother, LeRoy was born a few years later in 1895, but sadly he passed away on New Year's Day in 1901. Sister Virginia (Viola Dana) was born in 1897 and youngest child Leonie (Shirley Mason) was born in 1900. 

Mary Flugrath wanted her daughters to be actresses more than anything, so when her eldest daughter was old enough, she put her on the stage. Edna appeared not only as an actress but also as a premiere dancer. In her later teens and early twenties she was working with Anna Pavlova's dance company and even went on for the ballet diva a few nights. 

After awhile, Edna was tired of touring constantly on the vaudeville circuit. So, she decided to follow her younger sister's lead and try her hand at the movies. She debuted on screen in the 1912 short, What Happened to Mary

One of the reasons Edna wasn't as well known as her sisters was because she made the majority of her films overseas in England. This also explains why the names of people she acted with were not familiar to me. She did however appear in a few films with her sisters. In a 1912 short called Uncle Mun and the Minister, she appeared with sister Shirley, and in 1923 she appeared with sister Viola in Social Code, which would also be her last film. 

A film of some distinction in her career was a 1916 film called De Voortrekkers, or Winning a Continent. This film was the first feature film in the country of South Africa and was directed by Edna's future husband. I also want to mention that the leading man of this film was named Dick Cruikshanks...and I am just loving that.

Viola Dana and Edna in front of their beauty salon

After she retired from film in 1923, she began managing a Hollywood beauty salon called Gainsborough Beauty Shoppe that her sister Viola bought. 

Edna Flugrath passed away on April 6, 1966 in San Diego, California.

She was cremated and her ashes were interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery with her father and younger brother's ashes. Sister Viola was later interred there when she died in 1987.

Edna was married twice. Her first husband was director Harold Marvin Shaw who she married in 1917. The couple remained married until Shaw's tragic death in a car accident in 1926. His ashes were placed in the Flugrath family niche at Hollywood Forever. 

I want to point out the tragic connection that all three sisters shared. All three of the Flugrath girls first husband left them widowed and all three husbands were directors. Awful thing to have in common.

Edna's second marriage was to oil magnate Halliburton Houghton who she married around 1928. I do not know if they stayed married until death or if they did eventually divorce. 

None of the Flugrath sisters ever had children. 

For reasons I do not know, Edna became estranged from her younger sisters later in life. While Shirley and Viola remained close, they did not have any contact with their older sister for the last few years of their lives and actually only found out about her death from a stranger! Yikes!

On top of being an actress and a dancer Edna was also an accomplished seamstress who made most of the dresses she wore in her films. 

"When I am too old to act, I shall sew for my living." ~~ Edna Flugrath, Pictures and the Picturegoer, January 1916


  1. I picked up on that tragic coincidence. Families! You never know what causes rifts and it was probably over not much of anything but I guess we will never know