Maxine Semon

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Joe Moore
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Maxine Semon

Postby Joe Moore » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:42 am

I've been working my way through Jackie Gleason's Life of Riley television series (1949-1950) and Maxine Semon has a supporting role in it as Honeybee Gillis. To my eyes she certainly looks to have a family resemblance to Larry Semon and I was wondering if anyone knew if they were related? Daughter perhaps?

Curious

Joe

Michael J Hayde
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Re: Maxine Semon

Postby Michael J Hayde » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:00 pm

Ahh, Maxine. I was saving this for the Semon book, but what the hell:

Somewhere in the mid-1880's, stage soubrette Julia Melrose married manager Harry W. Semon, a son of Simon H. "Pop" Semon, circus booker/agent (and possible older brother of Zera). With Harry, she had 3 kids: Martin (1888), Primrose (1892) and Simon (1897). All three kids entered show biz; Martin and Primrose started out as Topsy and Eva in Edward Fowler Davis' stock production of UNCLE TOM'S CABIN. With and without her brothers, Primrose became something of a star; she continued performing as late as 1950.

Their father, Harry Semon, died on July 16, 1904 from complications of a skin infection. The family had made Kalamazoo, Michigan its home during the off-season. (Not unlike the five Keatons in Muskegon.) Harry is buried there.

A few years later, Julia Melrose Semon married the aforementioned Edward Fowler Davis. On August 30, 1909, Julia gave birth to Maxine Davis in Kalamazoo. Ed F. Davis died on February 28, 1918 of "lung trouble" at age 61.

In January 1920, in keeping with family tradition, Maxine made HER stage debut at age 10. Since Julia wished to capitalize on the fame of her other children, her youngest daughter was billed as Maxine Semon.

The upshot: despite the strong facial resemblance, and the intriguing possibility that her half-siblings ARE related to him, Maxine is not in any way a blood relative to Larry Semon.

The only open question is whether or not Zera and Simon actually are brothers. Per the census, a Simon (or Simeon) Semon disappears from Emmanuel Semon's family at exactly the same time that Simon H. Semon married and began his show business managerial career. But Simon H. consistently insisted he was born in New York City, and the Simon/Simeon who was Zera's brother was born in Virginia, same as Zera, according to the 1850 census. Moreover, it's odd that no news item or obit for either man mentions a familial relationship between them, despite both having regularly appeared in the pages of the DRAMATIC MIRROR, the CLIPPER and THE BILLBOARD.

Michael
Last edited by Michael J Hayde on Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

Joe Moore
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Re: Maxine Semon

Postby Joe Moore » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:04 am

Thanks very much for the information, Michael.

Lots of great research there.

Best

Joe

Jim Kerkhoff
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Re: Maxine Semon

Postby Jim Kerkhoff » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:28 pm

Can you please avoid being so vague in your responses Michael? Geez! You leave no stone unturned, do you! Thanks for the excellent research! However, you missed something important. I recall running across a reference to a one-reeler Maxine appeared in with Larry when she was a kid. It must have been prior to her stage debut in 1920. I think the title was "Clones and Clowns" or something like that. (I just made that up. Please don’t hold it against me and/or start doing research to check it out.)

Michael J Hayde
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Re: Maxine Semon

Postby Michael J Hayde » Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:43 pm

Jim Kerkhoff wrote:Can you please avoid being so vague in your responses Michael? Geez! You leave no stone unturned, do you!


Thanks, Jim, and Joe.

David Shepard was proofing my manuscript of the Mutual-Chaplin book. In one of his emails he wrote, "You are a jaw-dropping researcher." I only wish there was such a job title so I could make a living at it.

Michael

Ed Watz
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Re: Maxine Semon

Postby Ed Watz » Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:23 pm

Michael J Hayde wrote:
Jim Kerkhoff wrote:Can you please avoid being so vague in your responses Michael? Geez! You leave no stone unturned, do you!


Thanks, Jim, and Joe.

David Shepard was proofing my manuscript of the Mutual-Chaplin book. In one of his emails he wrote, "You are a jaw-dropping researcher." I only wish there was such a job title so I could make a living at it.

Michael


Mike, after the current administration scandal clears I wouldn't be surprised if the IRS will be looking for some jaw-dropping researchers with integrity.

I'm eagerly looking forward to your Mutual-Chaplin book! It seems like the year 2013 is destined to be remembered as The Golden Age of Silent Film Comedy Books. Glad I just bought a new bookcase - this year will occupy a shelf in itself!
"Of course he smiled -- just like you and me." -- Harold Goodwin, on Buster Keaton (1976)


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