Volume III: Biographies



Actress (1916)

Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Together with Edward Earle, Charles E. Kimball, and Hal Forde, all of whom were players with other companies, Cissy Fitzgerald was brought by automobile to New Rochelle one day early in 1916 to play a cameo part in What Doris Did, part of which re-enacted the 1915 Boston Exhibitors Ball, at which Doris Grey won a chance at an acting career.

Biographical Notes: Cissy Fitzgerald was born in England in 1874 and was christened Marie Kathleen Cecelia Fitzgerald. At an early age she appeared on the stage, using the name "Cissy," derived from "Sis," the nickname given by her brothers. She was before the footlights for many years in England and became well known there. Roles in The Gaiety Girl and The Foundling were among her favorites. Miss Fitzgerald made her American debut when The Gaiety Girl, following its London success, came to the United States. Soon thereafter, she was engaged by Charles Frohman, for whom she appeared in The Family.

Miss Fitzgerald was well known for her mischievous wink, of which a song was written. During her American stay in the 1890s, billboards in New York City depicted her with one eye closed, with the caption, "See Cissy Wink." In 1896 she posed in a 50-foot film sequence for Edison. Years later this gave her the opportunity to claim she was the first woman in American movies. This story was endlessly repeated. A detailed version was printed in Photoplay in May 1927, under the title, "The First Screen Actress."

Sensing better opportunities on her native side of the Atlantic, Miss Fitzgerald returned to England, where she was a familiar figure for a period of years. She then married and became known to her friends as Cissy Tucker. Retiring from acting, she devoted several years to traveling with her husband to Africa, China, India, Australia, and other countries. Following her husbands death, she came to America in 1913 and entered films with Vitagraph. From the outset, her specialty was comedy. In autumn 1915 she worked with Kleine, immediately after which she joined the Gaumont company to make Casino-brand comedies for the Mutual Program. Her first Gaumont reel was a comedy, A Corner in Cats, which was followed by Zablitzkys Waterloo, Curing Cissy, and Leave It to Cissy. At the time of her Thanhouser cameo appearance in What Doris Did, Cissy Fitzgerald was with Gaumont-Casino.

In 1916, Miss Fitzgerald returned to the stage for a time. In February 1920 she was in Los Angeles. At that time her recent films included See America Thirst, The Winkless Widow, and Cissys Economy. She remained in films for many years, and at one time had her own production companies in Hollywood and Miami. Among her last films was The Masquerader, with Ronald Colman. Cissy Fitzgerald died on May 5, 1941 in Ovingdean, England. During her lifetime she was mother to at least two children, a son born circa 1899 and a daughter, referred to as "Cissy Fitzgerald, Jr."

Thanhouser Filmography:

1916: What Doris Did (3-1-1916)

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Copyright © 1995 Q. David Bowers. All Rights Reserved.