Born: October 16, 1911 in Bayonne, New Jersey, USA
October 22, 1998 in Avila Beach, California, USA
|~The Los Angeles Times~
October 21, 1998
Molly O'Day was an actress of the silent screen who began her short but memorable career as a
teenager in the "Our Gang" comedies.
The actress received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the storied corner of Hollywood
and Vine in the late 1920s. Hired by director Hal Roach for the "Our Gang" shorts when she was a
schoolgirl, O'Day worked in comedies with such stars as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
Only 16, she defeated 2,000 contenders in an audition for the tough girl heroine in the 1927
prizefighter movie "The Patent Leather Kid." That role led to major roles in "The Lovelorn," "Hard-
Boiled Haggerty," "Shepherd of the Hills," "The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come," "Show of
Shows," "Sisters," "Hired Wife," "Gigolettes of Paris," "Skull and Crown" and other features.
Born Suzanne Noonan, O'Day was the youngest of 11 children of Metropolitan Opera singer
Hannah Kelly and Bayonne, N.J., Judge Thomas Francis Patrick Noonan. After their father's death,
O'Day and her two sisters moved to Hollywood. One of the sisters became an equally successful
actress, Sally O'Neil, who died in 1968.
O'Day suffered the rigors of early Hollywood — including a much-reported two-year fight with her
weight. At 18, in 1928, she was threatened with the loss of her contract if she could not fit into a
specified size dress. So she resorted to "an operation for the removal of surplus fat" at Los Angeles'
Queen of Angels Hospital.
Two years later, a sympathetic Los Angeles Examiner reporter wrote that she had finally triumphed
over her weight problem: "She fasted and she dieted. She took mud baths and spring cures. She
racked and contorted her body in furious gymnastics. And once, she even went under the surgeon's
knife in the hope of being able to lose a little of that plumpness which threatened to bring her film
career to an untimely close."
Although she refused to divulge her diet secrets, the actress was appraised by the newsman:
"Yesterday, however, a new Molly appeared on the scene — a Molly slim, sylphlike and joyous, a
Molly whose weight had toppled from 140 horrible pounds to a more than bearable 120, where it
O'Day largely abandoned her career after her Tijuana marriage in 1934 to comedian Jack Durant of
the vaudeville team Mitchell & Durant. The couple had four children, and the marriage ended in
divorce in 1951. O'Day married oilman James McGregor Kenaston in Las Vegas on Nov. 9, 1952, and
divorced him four years later.
O'Day moved to Avila Beach, Calif., in 1980. As a resident of San Obispo County, she was active in
the Old Mission Parish and worked with the homeless.
She died at age 88 in October 1998 in Arroyo Grande, Calif.
— Myrna Oliver in the Los Angeles Times Oct. 21, 1998
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