Friday, February 15, 2008

Peggy Shannon

Born Winona Sammon on January 10, 1907, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Peggy joined the Ziegfeld Follies in 1923 at age 13, though she claimed to be 17. She stayed with Ziegfeld for two seasons and then moved to the legitimate theater and within a three year period (1926-1929), appeared in 15 productions.

While performing on Broadway in early 1931, Peggy was spotted by B. P. Schulberg, production head of Paramount Pictures, and was offered a contract. Her first lead role came after only two days in Hollywood; Clara Bow suffered a nervous breakdown during the shooting of The Secret Call (1931) and Peggy was named her replacement. The studio also began to refer to her as the new "It" girl, much to Bow's chagrin. 1931 also saw Peggy in The Road To Reno opposite the very popular Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Mary Pickford's husband.

In 1934, Peggy returned to Broadway for the show Page Miss Glory, playing the girlfriend of then unknown Jimmy Stewart. Unfortunately, it was around this time that a hidden drinking problem began to surface. In 1935, she continued on Broadway with The Light Behind the Shadow, but was soon replaced, with a press release claiming a tooth infection, though rumors blamed her drinking. In 1936 she returned again to Hollywood with Youth On Parole, her name no where near the top of the marquee. A few small roles followed.

In 1940, Peggy married cameraman/actor Albert G. Roberts. On May 11, 1941, Albert Roberts and a fellow studio worker returned from a fishing trip to find Peggy dead. She was slumped over the kitchen table, a cigarette in her mouth and an empty glass in her hand. She had been dead for approximately 12 hours, aged 31. The autopsy indicated acute alcoholism. She appeared in 35 films during her career.

Three weeks after Peggy's death, her husband committed suicide. He shot himself with a .22 rifle in the same chair that Peggy died. His suicide note read, "I am very much in love with my wife, Peggy Shannon. In this spot she died, so in reverence to her, you will find me in the same spot."

Trivia - When the world premier of The Secret Call is held in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the mayor declared July 14th, “Peggy Shannon Day”.

Picture Play, January 1932 - Artist Modest Stein

Motion Picture Magazine spotlight, October 1933

Publicity Still

Publicity Still

Production still, The Devil's Mate (1933), lead role opposite Preston Foster

The Road to Reno poster, using the Modest Stein portrait

Photo (circa 1923-1926) by Alfred Cheney Johnson. Look for the book
Jazz Age Beauties to see more of his work with the Ziegfeld Girls.

Peggy Shannon - What do you think - Allure?


Anonymous said...

Peggy Shannon certainly had allure
- and plenty!!! She was brought
to films as a replacement for Clara
Bow (who was being difficult!!!) but as you said she soon developed a drinking problem. I have a film
of hers called "Ellis Island" (1936
- nothing great but Peggy Shannon
looked terrific, similar to Nancy
Carroll. It is worth a look as is
"The Case of the Lucky Legs"(1935).
I can't remember Peggy having a
big part but at least you can catch
a glimpse of her.

Operator_99 said...

I have a copy of Case of the Lucky Legs, but didn't even remember Peggy was in it - I'll be rewatching it today! Thanks for the reminder.

Kathy said...

Actually, Peggy Shannon was born in 1907 from viewing the 1910 and 1920 Censuses for Pinebluff, Arkansas.

Operator_99 said...

Kathy, right you are. And that was what was in my draft. Must have finalized it too late one night. Thanks for spotting it. Making the change in the text.