Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Star Is Born

Maude Franklin Pierce
 Maude Franklin Pierce, my great grand aunt, was born on November 30, 1879 in Middleboro, Massachusetts. She was the fourth of five daughters born to Mary Ann Besse  and Thomas Warren Pierce. Growing up in a well-to-do family, she and her four sisters were afforded every opportunity.  They all became refined ladies, college educated, and proficient in the art of music. The Pierce girls were well-known within the music circut.  Maude became a classical pianist, sang opera, performed in concerts and was an actress. The Boston Symphony Hall and other grand halls around the world became a home away from home.

       On September 6, 1918 Maude applied for a passport as an entertainer for the Soldiers with the America's Over There Theater League under the YMCA.   With the approval of the United States War Department, Maude departed from New York to entertain the soldiers serving in WWI. 

       Army orders allowed soldiers a week's leave every four months of active duty.  During this week of vacation, soldiers could enjoy the cinema, play athletic sports such as baseball, volleyball and soccer. There was swimming and  boat excursions on the lake.  The soldiers enjoyed with great enthusiasm, the entertainment shows provided by Maude and others in the YMCA league.

       When the time came for the men to go back to their posts of service, there was unanimous appreciation and praise for the good times enjoyed and regret that they were so soon ended.  The primary purpose of the leave was to restore their spirits and heighten morale.

       Maude married Joseph Allen, a gentlelmen from South Yarmouth, Massachusetts.  From Middleboro they moved to Fairfield, Connecticut where their first child, a son, was born in 1903.  A second son arrived in 1912.  During these years, Maude continued  to give concerts in New York City. 

       The family moved to Los Angeles, California.  Maude was born and raised in the Methodist Church, but while living here, she and her husband became Christian Scientists. Some time later, the marriage ended in divorce.  Maude began her career as an actress under the name Maude Pierce Allen.  She had roles in films such as, The Big Pond, The Cowboy Millionaire, Danger Ahead and many others.  She was best known for her role in the Adventures of Red Ryder.  She played the role of  Dutchess, Red's mother.  It indicated on the movie posters that this was an action packed western clifthanger seen in 12 exciting episodes.  The film was shown in movie theaters and always ended in some pending tragidy.  To see what happened, you had to return the following week.  I was able to obtain the video with all 12 episodes.  It was great seeing her perform.  It brought her back to life.

       In Maude's later years, she returned home to Middleboro.  She entered the Hannah B. G. Shaw Home for the Aged.  Every day she would play the piano and sing to all the residents and staff.  My father, Robert Franklin Smith would go and visit her there.  Now I understand why dad loved opera.

     Maude passed away on April 24, 1960.  She is buried in the family Pierce plot in Middleboro.  This medallion sits on her gravestone.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...