Irish-born actress who specialized in playing "homely" and "slavey" roles. In a 1936 article on how her "homeliness" was her "stock in trade" as an actress, she claimed "she's been in motion pictures for 16 years—ever since she was 12 years old." This would suggest an approximate birth year of 1907-08, though in reality, she was a decade older...|
She gave her full birth name in later records as Anna Sheila McCloskey, or some variant thereof. In the 1910 Census (the earliest definite record I can find for her) and the 1923 Los Angeles City Directory, her name is given as Anna F. McCloskey. There does exist a birth registration record for an "Annie Frances M'Closkey," birth registered Apr-Jun 1897 in Belfast, but I have yet to 100% confirm this is her (her parents' names are not listed in the record). Some publicity from the 1930s claims that Sheila was born in Hollywood -- that is, a small Irish village called Hollywood, reportedly near Belfast; in effect, the publicity remarked, Sheila traveled "5,000 miles" (about accurate) from Hollywood to Hollywood. There is indeed an Irish village called Hollywood -- situated over 100 miles/over 200 km away from Belfast, in County Wicklow. For now, I'm going to chalk this tidbit up as a "convenient" bit of publicity "fluff."
Anna/Sheila's parents were Mary Emily (Mullan) (dates unknown) and Michael McCloskey (1865-1944), both of Ireland. They immigrated to the United States in either 1900 (1920 & 1930 Censuses) or 1901 (1910 Census). Michael and Anna/Sheila were naturalized in 1906 (1920 Census). It appears Mary passed away sometime between 1897 and 1907. In 1907 in Philadelphia, Michael re-married to Elizabeth B. Hayward (1871-1942), who would act in films under the name "Helen Hayward." They would very soon arrive in California, living in San Francisco (1910) and Oakland (1920) before settling in Los Angeles as early as 1923 (although Sheila's death certificate would suggest she arrived in L.A. around 1918; Michael and Elizabeth/Helen's death certificates suggest around 1919-20).
The McCloskey family had previously lived at 1167 North Hoover Street (1923 L.A. City Dir.), 1044 Myra Avenue (1924 L.A. City Dir.), and 1138 Manzanita Street (1925, 1926, & 1928 L.A. City Dirs.). The family are living at 1805 North Garfield Place (renting for $65/month) in the 1930 Census and the 1930 Los Angeles City Directory. Residing with them throughout the 1920s and up to the 1930 Directory, but not with them in the 1930 Census, is painter-cum-interior decorator Herman G. Hoeppner (more on him in a bit). In the 1940 Census, the McCloskeys are living at 1818 North Gramercy Place (renting for $35/month), where Elizabeth and Michael would each pass away in 1942 and 1944, respectively. By the time of the 1950 Census, Anna/Sheila is living at 1904 North Argyle Avenue (specifically at 1904B; Herman Hoeppner is living at 1904A, but is on a different census sheet). She has no profession listed in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses. In the 1925 L.A. City Directory, she is a musician; in the 1930 City Directory, she is an "actor." In the 1940 Census, Anna/Sheila (shaving nine years off her age) is an actress in movies, working 8 weeks in 1939 and earning $600. In the 1950 Census, she is again an actress in motion pictures; although she was looking for work, she did not work in the week prior to the census.
Back to Mr. Hoeppner: on her 54th birthday (21 March 1951), Sheila McCloskey married 64-year old Wisconsin native Herman Gustav Hoeppner (1887-1960) in Laguna Beach, California (the license was issued five days before, which could explain why Sheila gives her age as 53 on the certificate). Both had never married before and are living at 1904 No. Argyle Ave., Hollywood. This late-in-life union only lasted 2 years and 8 months before Sheila passed away. Just one minute after midnight, on 24 November 1953, 56-year old Anna Sheila Hoeppner succumbed to an eight-month battle with colon cancer at her North Argyle home. Her death certificate (informant was husband Herman) gives her occupation as "housewife" at her "own home," and states that she had been living in Los Angeles for 35 years. Three days later, she was cremated at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. Herman, who didn't remarry, passed away a little over six years later on 22 January 1960.