Grace Hamilton (Stella Gray)
BiographyKansas City, Missouri, USA
The American stage actress and vocalist Grace La Rue was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1882. Although she began her theatrical career at the age of eleven, it was not until 1906 that she first made her mark. On 3 November that year, she appeared at the Casino, New York, as Evelyn Ormsby in the musical play The Blue Moon, a part originated in London by Billie Burke. Thereafter, she featured successfully in a number of similar New York productions, including The Follies of 1907 and 1908, The Troubadour (Lyric, 1910) and Betsy (Herald Square, 1911). Read more... made her first trip to London, where on 4 August 1913 at the Palace Theatre she made a sensation by singing You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It). Composed by James V. Monaco, with lyrics by Joseph McCarthy, it had been introduced by Al Jolson in the musical Honeymoon Express at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York, on 6 February 1913. Miss La Rue then appeared in another musical, The Girl Who Didn't at the Lyric Theatre, London, which opened for a disappointing run of sixty-eight performances on 18 December 1913. Other members of the cast included Lionel Mackinder, C.H. Workman, Tom Shale, James Blakeley, Amy Augarde and Yvonne Arnaud. Although the piece did not succeed, Miss La Rue scored another personal triumph with an interpolated song by Elsa Maxwell, the extraordinary A Tango Dream, which she soon recorded for The Gramophone Company Ltd in London for its His Master's Voice label (catalogue no. 03373, recorded 6 February 1914, issued April 1914). Grace La Rue returned to America in 1914 where she appeared in vaudeville and in a number of other musicals and revues, both in New York and Chicago. Between October 1922 and the latter part of 1923 she played successfully at the Music Box, New York, in Irving Berlin's second Music Box Revue. She was back in London again at the Coliseum in the summer of 1924 in a sketch, Dangerous Advice with her second husband, the American stage and film actor Hale Hamilton. Afterwards, Miss La Rue resumed her American appearances in productions such as The Greenwich Village Follies (Winter Garden, New York, 1928). But by the early 1930s, she was living in retirement in California, where she made a brief appearance in Mae West's film She Done Him Wrong (1933).