~Sally O'Neil~

Born: October 23, 1908 in Bayonne, New Jersey, USA
Died: June 18, 1968 in Galesburg, Illinois, USA
Known in vaudeville under the delightful moniker Chotsie Noonan, saucy silent screen comedienne
Sally O'Neil (born Virginia Louise Concepta Noonan) became a major star in her second film, Sally,
Irene and Mary (1925). Constance Bennett and Joan Crawford filled out the title trio but it was
O'Neil's naïve chorus girl who ran away with the notices. Pronounced MGM's answer to Paramount's
Clara Bow, O'Neil was voted a 1926 WAMPAS Baby Star but soon found herself mired in tasteless
ethnic comedies such as The Callahans and the Murphys (1927) and Frisco Sally Levy (1927), the
latter, according to one reviewer, proving as subtle "as a policeman's nightstick." In addition to her
shaky screen vehicles, O'Neil suffered a severe case of stage fright. "So much depended on me doing
well," she later explained. Her panic, however, was construed as temper tantrums and MGM dropped
her option. She was rescued, most surprisingly, by D.W. Griffith, who cast her as a flapper in his one
attempt at Lubitschian piquancy, The Battle of the Sexes (1928). The light touch was never a Griffith
trademark, unfortunately, and the film was a distinct failure. Sound only tended to amplify O'Neil's
nasal New Jersey accent and although well cast as Dion Boucicault's wistful Irish colleen Kathleen
Mavourneen (1930), she was really more Bayonne than County Cork. John Ford awarded her the
leading role as the street urchin in The Brat (1931), a remake of the 1916 Alla Nazimova melodrama,
which O'Neill herself had done on stage the previous year. Although the film wasn't much liked, she
emerged with fine personal reviews and a new contract with Fox. Nothing much came out of that, and
she quit in disgust after six idle months in favor a return to the stage. In 1937, she turned up in the
Irish-made Kathleen, a remake of her 1930 Kathleen Mavourneen, but Hollywood wags named the
film "Cinderella Auld Sod" and O'Neil's screen career was over. In her later years, O'Neil appeared in
summer stock, toured army hospitals with the USO and starred in a very successful 1951 Pasadena
Playhouse production of Edith Wharton's The Bunner Sisters. Retired to the small town of Galesburg,
IL, the erstwhile flapper became a locally noted painter who enjoyed several gallery showings. She
was the sister of film actress Molly O'Day.

Biography by Hans J. Wollstein, AllMovie.com
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more about
The Show of Shows (1929) .... Performer in 'What Became of the Floradora
Boys' & 'Meet My Sister' Numbers
Jazz Heaven (1929) .... Ruth Morgan
Girl on the Barge (1929) .... Erie McCadden
Hardboiled (1929) (as Sally O'Neill) .... Teena Johnson
... aka A Real Girl (UK)
Broadway Fever (1929) .... Sally McAllister
The Floating College (1928) .... Pat Bixby
The Battle of the Sexes (1928) .... Ruth Judson - the Daughter
Bachelor's Paradise (1928) .... Sally O'Day
Mad Hour (1928) (as Sally O'Neill) .... Cuddles
The Lovelorn (1927) .... Georgie Hastings
Becky (1927) .... Rebecca O'Brien McCloskey
The Callahans and the Murphys (1927) .... Ellen Callahan
Frisco Sally Levy (1927) .... Sally Colleen Lapidowitz
Slide, Kelly, Slide (1927) .... Mary Munson
Battling Butler (1926) .... The mountain girl
Don Key (Son of Burro) (1926) (as Sue O'Neill)
Fight Night (1926) (uncredited) .... Woman Undressed
Dizzy Daddies (1926) (as Sue O'Neill) .... Ima Haig, his younger daughter
Wandering Papas (1926) (as Sue O'Neill) .... Susie, the hermit's daughter (C-4)
... aka Enough to Do (UK: short version)
Your Husband's Past (1926) (as Sue O'Neill)
The Auction Block (1926) .... Bernice Lane
Mike (1926) (as Sally O'Neill) .... Mike
Sally, Irene and Mary (1925) .... Mary
Don't (1925) .... Tracey Moffat
Yes, Yes, Nanette (1925) (as Sue O'Neill) .... The sister (D-90)