Sally O’Neil

Cute-as-a-button and diminutive in size, Sally O’Neil (sometimes billed as Sally O’Neill), was one of 11 children born to a judge in 1908 in Bayonne, New Jersey. Another sister would also become a well-known actress, Molly O’Day. Sally was educated in a convent and started in vaudeville where she was billed as “Chotsie Noonan” (her real name was Virginia Louise Concepta Noonan). She started in silent films at age 17 and found a penchant for playing unassuming street orphans along the lines of Mary Pickford in lightweight comedies, and later as flashy fun girls in the Clara Bow mold. Sally found stardom with her second film Sally, Irene and Mary (1925) co-starring Constance Bennett and Joan Crawford playing a naive chorus girl. As a result, she (as would sister Molly) was named a Wampas Baby Star in 1926. A brief but popular MGM commodity, her films, such as The Callahans and the Murphys (1927) and Frisco Sally Levy (1927), did not suit her well and her star diminished. Possessing a strong New Jersey accent and developing a severe case of stage fright did not help things either as sound films were now the rage. Despite the promising title role in Kathleen Mouverneen (1930) and a strong lead in The Brat (1931), which she had done on Broadway, she quickly faded from view. Sally returned to the stage and performed in USO tours until retiring in the 50s. She died in 1968.

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