|born: 01 May 1888
United States of America
|died: 30 June 1955
United States of America
|American actor who began working in films in the early 1920s. Probably best remembered as the well-dressed nobleman whom Laurel and Hardy rob in the town square in "The Bohemian Girl".
A little family history:
Mason Borden was born circa 1801 in New Jersey*. Future wife Rebecca Swift was born circa 1811 in Waynesville, Ohio**. The two were not only married by the 1850 Census, but they had three children (four by 1860): - Rachel Borden (b. Oct 1837 in Ohio - m. George Hoefer on 12 Jun 1854 - possibly d. 1907-08) - Prudence Borden (b. 12 Apr 1840 in Ohio - m. Thomas Benton Hinkle on 12 Nov 1856 - d. 9 Feb 1926) - Hannah Borden (b. 19 June 1844 in Ohio - m. Jacob Tuefel/Teufel on 16 Feb 1865 - d. 16 Apr 1933 in Detroit, Michigan) - Rebecca Swift Borden (b. 18 Aug 1851 in Waynesville, Ohio - m. James Predengast - d. 7 Oct 1928 in Wayne Township, Warren County, Ohio)
* I'm not positive, but I think that, as Jacob M. Borden, Mason died 14 Jan 1887 in Waynesville, Ohio - the fella I found in the "death roll" of Ohio deaths in Wayne Township, a laborer (Mason was a retired shoemaker), was married, 86 years old, born in New Jersey and died of "old age" (that's literally the cause given).
** Mother Rebecca might've died 20 Feb 1895. Find a Grave record cited gave her age as 84y.
While Rachel and Prudence married, Hannah and Rebecca were still with their parents by the 1860 Census. The younger Rebecca had moved on by the 1870 Census, but that remaining hole was tripled by Hannah's new family; on 16 Feb 1865, Hannah married Bavarian-born Jacob Tuefel in Warren County, Ohio. In the years leading up to the 1900 Census, they had nine children - six of whom made it to 1900. One of Hannah's children was Alma (b. May 1862 - she is 7 yrs old in 1870, but other sources go for around 1865 it would appear). Interestingly, Hannah and Jacob are absent in the 1880 Census, but 16(?)-year old Alma remains with her grandparents Jacob and Rebecca, as well as the returning aunt Rebecca.
Here's the reason I included all of this stuff at the beginning -- when looking for Eddie, I found him and his mother in the 1920 Census (more on that later). So I backtracked and found her marriage to the fella in 1920 and noticed her surname was Staples (hold on, it's up next). So I did some digging and found the 1900 Census record (coming up next) and assumed "Staples" was Eddie's given surname. However, I discovered the Staples marriage: Alma married a man named Thomas Staples on 14 Nov 1892 in Hamilton, Ohio. Now, 1892: Eddie would've already been born by then. Even more interestingly, Alma says her name is "Alma A. Borden." The meat of this: did she adopt her grandfather's surname? Or did she marry another Borden? WHO was Eddie's father? Unfortunately, the 1890 Census records are pretty much lost, so we can really only guess...
Whatever the case, Thomas was gone by the 1900 Census: "A. A." (Alma) is widowed. NOW we get to the "main attraction": Edgar, b. May 1888 (age 12) in Ohio - at school. HOW am I certain this is the man I'm looking for? Simple. On 23 Sep 1902, Alma married divorcee Thomas Walter Raymond (b. 30 May 1852 in Cincinnati, Ohio - d. there 14 May 1923). They are together in the 1910 and 1920 Censuses - while I cannot find Eddie in 1910, he is the head and they're living with him in 1920, as he is living with them in NY in the 1915 state census. Alma died 8 Dec 1920 in Brooklyn. Now, interestingly on the death record I found, she claims grandfather Mason as her father. What?
On 27 July 1921, Eddie and his companion, frequent vaudeville partner "Sir" James Dwyer, were driving in Culver City. He was going 16 miles per hour when they accidentally hit screen actress Margaret Cassidy. Borden and his companion carried the woman to a doctor; however, the girl died in the ambulance en route to the hospital. Borden was arrested on charges of manslaughter. On Aug 3, $2,000 bail was furnished by fellow stage actress Eva Tanguay. The date of his hearing was set for Aug 11 and Borden said the accident was unavoidable; he was replaced in the production he was in at the time ("On Broadway" or "On Fifth Ave.") by Charles Irwin. According to Variety, the trial was to be held December 9; Eddie is out under the aforementioned bail and "doing some work in the picture colony. . . The evidence at the preliminary hearing sounded weak against Borden, who appeared to have been the victim of a not uncommon driving accident. It is believed he was held for due trial to appease local sentiment."
Dec 14: Trial has been extended till next month. Husband of the deceased "has been conducting a relentless campaign against the vaudeville actor."
May 10, 1922: Will go to trial Monday.
June 28: Exonerated and cleared of all blame for accident. Jury trial was held, and they reportedly stood 11-1 for acquittal on first ballot. After the findings were delivered to the court, Judge Shenk thanked the jury, "stating that a fairer verdict could not have been found." Motorcycle Policeman Kane testified that the accident was unavoidable and that Eddie rushed Miss Cassidy to a hospital. At the hospital, he was examined and found to be sober. Prosecuting attorney did not sum up the case at testimony's conclusion. Local attorney Jud Rush acted as defense attorney.
"At the time of the accident and the arrest of Borden the local press made a spread of the story, but they ignored entirely the trial and Borden's acquittal."
He married Hazel May Gatewood in 1922 in Philadelphia (marriage license #471852). According to the 5 Jan 1923 edition of Vaudeville News, the marriage had occured six months prior to then (though it said the marriage occured in Los Angeles). Hazel was born Mar 1896 in Oregon and was previously married to a Wahlstrom. They were still together in the 1930 Census. However, in the 7 Feb 1933 edition of Variety, it had a list of divorced Hollywood couples and the reasons behind them. On the list were Eddie and Hazel May Borden; reason just said "did not state."
He died 30 June 1955 (per the CA Death Index) - a day earlier than listed by some sources. The CA Death Index has him as "Edgar (or Eddie) Mason Borden," as do all documents cited 1915 and after.
His 1900 Census as well as his WWI draft registration card (he was already employed by the Palace Theatre Bldg in NY as a vaudeville performer) and 1920 Cenus all list a birthpace of Waynesville, Ohio. However, the following sources give a birthplace of Deer Lodge, Tennessee:
1930 Census,& 1929 + 1930 Motion Picture News Blue Books (says educ. in Cincinnati), 1931+1932+1937-38 Motion Picture Almanacs (says educ. Cincinnati), 1940 Census, WWII draft registration card, CA Death Index. Interestingly, Tennessee is given as Alma and Eddie's father's birth states in the 1900 Census.
|Real name: Edgar Mason Borden
|Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography;
plus 1 film with Laurel & Hardy.