Monday, June 11, 2018

Born Today June 11: Virginia Brissac


Actress Virginia Alice Brissac, who was well known from the 1930's through the 1950's in matronly roles, was born today in San Jose, California.  She grew up in San Francisco where her father was a well known business executive in the insurance industry.  She is also cited in divorce proceedings (hers) in the 1920's as being the niece (on her mother's side??) of well known actress and famous suffragette Mary Shaw.  She made her stage debut in 1902 in her home town; she then became a successful actress of the stage on the west coast (mostly around the Bay area and later in Washington state, but also, she acted in Hawaii, where she met her second husband) throughout the aughts and teens and wound up appearing in two films in 1913.  While working in Hawaii, she met John Griffith Wray, a writer who had aspirations of getting into the film business.  There, she made two films whose complete productions were the work of Wray:  The Shark God and Hawaiian Love; both films were made for the World's Fair Stock Company.  After making these two shorts, she sailed back to California and resumed her work on the stage.  These two small curiosities would be the only films that she appeared in until 1935, when she came out of retirement from acting to play the role of Mrs. Van Twerp in Arthur Lubin's Honeymoon Limited.  This led to an unexpected later in life film and television career that she didn't expect, and even modest stardom.  She made her television debut in a 1951 episode of Stars Over Hollywood; she would go on to guest in several shows of note, including Dragnet and I Love Lucy.  She again retired from acting in 1955 after appearing the James Dean classic Rebel Without A Cause (as a horror fan, I can't help but mention that she also had a bit in the large cast that was Roy Del Ruth's Phantom Of The Rue Morgue in 1954).  At some point, she relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is where she passed away 25 years after her retirement on July 26th at the age of 96! She is interred in a family niche at Olivet Memorial Park (aka Mount Olivet Cemetery) in Colma, San Mateo, California.

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