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May Tully

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May Tully
Tully, from a 1912 newspaper
Mary Gertrude Tully

1880s (sources give various dates)
Died(1924-03-09)March 9, 1924
New York City, United States
OccupationActress, writer, producer

May Tully (born 1880s – March 9, 1924) was a Canadian actress, writer, director, and producer in theatre and film, and, according to sportswriter Damon Runyon, "perhaps the greatest woman baseball fan that ever lived."[1]

Early life

Mary Gertrude Tully was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, the daughter of Frank Tully and Nancy Hague Tully.[2] After her father died in a mine explosion when May was a girl, she and her widowed mother moved to Victoria, British Columbia,[3] where her mother remarried. May Tully attended McGill University, and Mrs. Wheatley's Dramatic School in New York.[4]

A scene from May Tully's play Mary's Ankle (1916), starring Irene Fenwick.
A scene from May Tully's play Mary's Ankle (1916), starring Irene Fenwick.


Tully was credited as a writer on eight silent films: The Winning of Beatrice (1918),[2] Mary's Ankle (1920), His Wife's Money (1920), Bucking the Tiger (1921), The Old Oaken Bucket (1921), Chivalrous Charley (1921), Kisses (1922), and That Old Gang of Mine (1925). In addition, she directed That Old Gang of Mine and The Old Oaken Bucket, and had producer credit on The Old Oaken Bucket.[5]

On stage, Tully acted in shows such as The Christian (1900), In the Good Old Summer Time, The Two Mr. Wetherbys (1906). She wrote the play Mary's Ankle (1916),[6] "an improbable but delectable farce"[7] starring Irene Fenwick, Zelda Sears, and Bert Lytell on Broadway;[8] it was also a success in other cities.[9]

Tully performed in vaudeville in sketches she wrote, Stop! Look! and Listen! (1907),[10] The Late Mr. Allen (1912), The Battle Cry of Freedom (1912),[11] and Mona Lisa (1914).[4] "She has long been recognized as the over-time worker of the vaudeville world," explained another writer in 1917, adding "She is perhaps the most businesslike of all the lady playwrights."[7] She was the sketch writer for the Palace Theatre in New York, and in 1915 produced a fashion show there, with models, expensive gowns, and jewelry;[12] a popular attraction, The Fashion Show toured the Keith circuit for months, and was refreshed with new fashions in later seasons.[13]

In Curves (1911-1912), a vaudeville sketch she wrote about baseball,[14] she co-starred with off-season professional players Christy Mathewson and Chief Meyers,[15] bringing sports fans to the theatre.[16][17] Her love of baseball was often noted in reports about the show.[18][19] "She knows more inside baseball than 99 percent of the fans," acknowledged New York Giants coach Muggsy McGraw.[20]

Personal life

May Tully died from nephritis in 1924, aged about 40 years, in New York City.[21] Headlines after her death highlighted her love and knowledge of baseball.[22] "She had a wide acquaintance among baseball men, players, managers, magnates, and writers," noted Damon Runyon, and was accepted into their company "because of her understanding of the game and its atmosphere."[23]


  1. ^ Runyon, Damon (March 14, 1924). "Says Damon Runyon: May Tully Dead, Was a Great 'Fan'". The Dayton Herald. p. 19. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  2. ^ a b "Miss May Tully Nanaimo Native Daughter". Nanaimo Daily News. February 6, 1919. p. 1. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  3. ^ "Victoria Comedienne Strong on Baseball". The Victoria Daily Times. June 11, 1912. p. 7. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  4. ^ a b Cullen, Frank; Hackman, Florence; McNeilly, Donald (2007). Vaudeville old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America. Psychology Press. pp. 1132–1133. ISBN 9780415938532.
  5. ^ "Old Oaken Bucket is Princess Feature". Hot Springs New Era. May 8, 1922. p. 6. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  6. ^ Tully, May [from old catalog (1916). Mary's ankle . The Library of Congress. New York, Samuel French.
  7. ^ a b Richardson, Anna Steese (December 1917). "Lady Broadway: How the Woman Playwright Has Captured the Great White Way". McClure's Magazine. 50: 13.
  8. ^ Allen, Eugene Kelcey (August 7, 1917). ""Mary's Ankle," May Tully's Farce, Lets Irene Fenwick Score A Hit". Women's Wear Daily. p. 8 – via ProQuest.
  9. ^ "Mary's Ankle Continues". Town Talk. 32: 17. May 11, 1918.
  10. ^ "Clever and Winsome May Tully". The Buffalo Times. December 8, 1906. p. 5. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  11. ^ "May Tully at Orpheum". The Oregon Daily Journal. June 30, 1912. p. 36. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  12. ^ "Talented Victorian Talks of her Work". The Victoria Daily Times. December 29, 1915. p. 14. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  13. ^ Schweitzer, Marlis (December 2008). "Patriotic Acts of Consumption: Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon) and the Vaudeville Fashion Show Craze". Theatre Journal. 60 (4): 585–608. doi:10.1353/tj.0.0111. S2CID 191481377.
  14. ^ "May Tulley is Baseball Fan with Sporting Blood". The Buffalo Times. October 6, 1911. p. 13. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  15. ^ "Matty and Meyers Off". The New York Times. February 26, 1911. p. C5 – via ProQuest.
  16. ^ Kingsley, Grace (August 7, 1912). "May Tully at the Big Game". Los Angeles Times. p. 32. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  17. ^ "Woman Taught Ball Stars How to Become Actors". Detroit Free Press. September 10, 1911. p. 43. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  18. ^ "Greatest Woman Fan in Portland". The Oregon Daily Journal. July 3, 1912. p. 12. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  19. ^ "May Tully is Real Baseball Fan". Wisconsin State Journal. February 27, 1913. p. 9. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  20. ^ Tully, May (August 7, 1912). "Orpheum Star Sees Game". Los Angeles Times. p. 32. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  21. ^ "May Tully". The New York Times (in American English). March 11, 1924. p. 19. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  22. ^ "Baseball Loses Arden Fan in Passing of May Tully". The Akron Beacon Journal. March 12, 1924. p. 17. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
  23. ^ "Press Comment Eulogistic of Late May Tully". Nanaimo Daily News. March 21, 1924. p. 4. Retrieved May 3, 2019 – via
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May Tully
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