19 January 1889
United States of America
02 May 1971
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
American actress who frequently popped up in the films of Our Gang, Laurel & Hardy and other series shot at the Hal Roach Studios in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Her name is pronounced "Lyle" (rhymes with smile) and is mentioned in the dialogue in "Red Noses".
Her remains are interred in Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood, California.
The following research and notes are from Steve Wright:
This clipping may not be very fascinating, but it's the earliest mention of Lyle Tayo I have ever seen. I had read that she was a stage star before films. I thought she had just been *born* middle-aged. I have always wondered how some of the less luminous stars in the Roach stable got into pictures in the first place. Fay Holderness, Otto Fries, Kay Deslys, etc. turn up in dozens of films, sometimes for just a few frames, but there must have been a reason they were signed in the first place.
It's not your everyday topic when it comes to cinema of the 1920s, but in one respect I have to admit the film What's the World Coming To? shows more foresight than maybe they were aware of at the time. Late one night back in the 1980s I was listening to a syndicated radio programme of Dr. Demento and he played a disc from the 1920s called something like "Those Masculine Women and Feminine Men" and while I imagine it was just supposed to be a joke, maybe not... suffice it to say they may have dressed Lyle Tayo up to look like a man as a lark for a film, but seeing it the first time was a genuine WTF moment for me, it seems so way ahead of its time. To me Lyle doesn't look so much like a man, as she does a genuine lesbian.
Filed in California, 25 sept 1946:
As above indicated, there are 11 reporters' transcripts herein. It has been stated in the briefs herein and in the arguments before the court that the case of Lyle Tayo is typical and representative of the evidence in all the cases. The issues herein as to all the cases have been presented and submitted upon the theory that the determination as to the Lyle Tayo case should also be the determination in the other cases. Lyle Tayo, 56 years of age [sRw: 57] , has been employed intermittently as an extra player for approximately 25 years, principally as a dancer [sRw: *shrug*]. Her dancing included old-fashioned and modern dancing, and jitterbugging [sRw: *that* must have been an instructive sight] . She has the costumes required for her work as an extra player. According to the records of the department of employment, her earnings during the base period of her claim for benefits, being the year 1943, amounted to $479.88. During the first 10 months of 1944 she received $672.15. She filed her claim for unemployment insurance benefits with the department of employment on May 15, 1944, and on that date she registered with the public employment office in her district for work as an extra player. She did not receive any work through the public employment office, but, from the time of filing her claim to October 31, 1944, she obtained, through her own efforts, 35 days of work as an extra player and received earnings in the sum of $436.82. During the weeks of unemployment in that period she received unemployment benefits at the rate of $13 per week. [76 Cal. App. 2d 237]
At the time of registering for employment and applying for unemployment insurance benefits, she stated in her application that she would not accept any kind of employment other than that of extra player at $10.50 or more per day. She said at the hearing before the referee that she would not accept work as an extra player at $5.50 per day. She said that her experience and ability "calls for at least $10.50," and that she could not "get the better work," if she accepted the $5.50 work. In other words she has restricted acceptable employment to work in motion pictures as an extra player at a minimum wage of $10.50 per day. During the year and a half preceding her application for unemployment insurance benefits she accepted only employment as an extra for which she would be paid a minimum of $10.50 per day, but on many occasions during several years prior thereto she accepted employment at the $5.50 rate. She said at the hearing before the referee that she could not work as a sales clerk in a store, because she is nervous and not too strong; that she would not accept work that is confining; that work "in the studio is so much different, because one day it is one thing, and the other day it is something else," and she "is not tied right down to something confining." She also said that she was physically able to work continuously as an extra player. She said further that she would accept work other than in motion pictures if the amount to be paid therefor was $10.50 per day.
Unlikely anybody finds this interesting save myself. But it does seem to indicate, contrary to what I have seen elsewhere, that she just retired from film work in the '30s. I find it somewhat ironic she claimed she was principally a dancer, as the one thing I have never seen her do in a film was dance. The closest thing to a dance step may have been when she kicked Blanche Payson's ass in Dogs Is Dogs.
Actually, all this research is a result of the fact that earlier this year I found she has no grave marker. I was wondering why, so I decided to see what turned up from Internet searching. Going from a dual role in a Broadway show in '11 down to Vaudeville in the late 'teens then to minor parts in comedy shorts and a few features then to being an extra scrounging for work and unemployment benefits (which BTW were denied), it may just be she was broke when she died. Where her husband, or any other family, was is anybody's guess. I imagine the trail ends here.
I found a bit more on Lyle Tayo, including her earliest stage appearance yet (1909). Also a couple of more stage credits, including a stage play that she may have been in as early as 1908 and one as late as 1922 and a couple of appearances in Paramount-Christie shorts.
FWIW, I offered to put up a grave marker myself -- all L&H alumni should have one -- and the cemetery said they would be happy to assist on that, only they told me I had to locate a family member to sign off on it. I am as likely to find a family member as I would be locating "Hats Off." She's been dead for nearly 50 years, and I would think any family member that actually cared would have put a marker there by now. Meh...
Per your census sources and my research, I now have the Shipman Mother & Daughters making it out to California somehow (Mom Shipman died there in 1942) -- and also possibly falling into money (a lot of it). There is a mystery man named Herbert Reynolds who married sister Bernice, (he was still alive in 1940, and that LT had moved out of 622 by that point.) However, it was Bernice who built up the property on Lots 16 & 17, Block 60 in Beverly Hills (in 1918) -- which, not exactly blindly, I make out to be 622 North Camden Drive (what those lots are worth today would make one sick). What happened to Reynolds?
By 1920, LT and Bernice appear to be at the same residence, LT's occupation being "Actress, Moving Pictures. My questioning how LT could possibly afford to own a home on Camden drive seems to be answered...perhaps she didn't. Her sister did. Was Reynolds a dead rich guy? Did Bernice divorce him and take him to the cleaners? *shrug*
By the late teens the Shipman sisters have taken to billing themselves as natives of LA, and rather well-to-do ones at that (Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore):
This makes her trying to score $13 per week between gigs in '43 (while less gifted and more patriotic middle-aged women were building airplanes for Lockheed) *really* appear to be a meteoric fall. This is only like 15 pieces of a much larger puzzle, but I have to admit I find it interesting, if pointless.
~~ Steve Wright.
The following research and notes are from Jesse Brisson:
On 15 July 1934, Lyle married Culver City fireman Seely Rowland Barton (born 22 June 1898 in Meadville, New York). It was Lyle's first marriage and Mr. Barton's third. Lyle was nine years his senior; she claimed to be aged 40 (really 45) on the certificate, while the groom gave a more truthful 36. The marriage lasted 11 years until Barton's death, from coronary sclerosis, on 26 November 1945. At the time, Barton was assistant fire chief of the Culver City Fire Department (the 1940 Census says he is "Captian [sic]" of the "City Fire dept."). Barton was a Roach employee when the Culver City Fire Department was officially founded in 1922 and he was recruited by new Fire Chief Frank Wilcox as a volunteer, along with two fellow Roach employees, Harry D'Arcy and head mechanic Jack Burns.
Thanks to a newspaper article, which stretches her filmography into the 1950s: the Esther Williams vehicle EASY TO LOVE (MGM, 1953) was her last film. (Screenshot here). The article (Hollywood Citizen-News, 13 Mar 1953) mentions Lyle among "Seventeen Silvery-Haired actresses, all in show-biz at least 40 years, [who] were signed by MGM" to appear in the film. At first, I thought it was going to be a "dress extra" thing, like a party or a restaurant scene or what have you, where I would have to squint to find her, but luckily for me (and for Steve, haha), 'twas not so! Towards the end of the film, there is a scene where Tony Martin takes a seat at a piano and sings "That's What a Rainy Day is For" in a hotel lobby, catching the attention of these 17 matrons who lovingly surround him at the piano (although I could only count 16 surrounding the piano - not sure who's missing) and later selectively join in on the song at his encouragement. Among the 17 ladies are ANM "inductees" Dorothy Vernon, Helen Dickson, Loretta Russell, and Florence Wix... aaand, at the far right of this group of ladies around the piano, in a dark dress with a red corsage, is none other than an older, gray-haired, but unmistakably recognizable Miss Tayo! She doesn't get to sing, unfortunately (?), but she's among the first ladies that Mr. Martin hands a flower to at scene's end.
~~ Jesse Brisson.
Real name: Lyle Minnie Shipman
|Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.