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Passings : Phyllis Welch MacDonald

From Broadway to one film role

October 07, 2008|From Times Staff Reports

Phyllis Welch MacDonald, 95, an actress whose brief but successful career took her from Broadway to Hollywood, died Sept. 26 of natural causes at her caretaker's home in San Mateo, Calif., said her son, Graeme. She was a longtime resident of Hillsborough, Calif.

MacDonald debuted on Broadway in "A Slight Case of Murder," a 1935 comedy by Damon Runyon and Howard Lindsay.

Two years later, she took the last of several Broadway roles, appearing in "High Tor," a fantasy that starred Peggy Ashcroft and Burgess Meredith.

In her only film, MacDonald played opposite Harold Lloyd in "Professor Beware," a 1938 comedy.

To get the part, she signed a contract promising not to marry or become engaged for six months. A violation would cost her $5,000 because such activities got in the way of film production, The Times reported in 1938.

Born on July 16, 1913, in Toledo, Ohio, MacDonald left acting after she married in 1939. She settled in Hillsborough and raised five sons.

In the early 1950s, she helped found the Peninsula Children's Theatre, which presented plays for young audiences throughout the San Francisco peninsula. She also painted portraits on commission.

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