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Nat M. Wills Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (4)  | Trivia (3)

Overview (3)

Born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA
Died in Woodcliff, New Jersey, USA  (accidental carbon monoxide poisoning)
Birth NameLouis MacGrath Wills

Mini Bio (1)

Nat M. Wills (born Louis McGrath Wills) was a popular stage star, vaudeville entertainer, and recording artist at the beginning of the 20th century. He is best known for his "Happy Tramp" persona and for performing humorous or satirical musical numbers, including parodies of popular songs of the day.

Wills' family moved to Washington, D.C. when he was a child and he and began his theatrical career there. One of his first stage appearances was with Minnie Palmer, a popular actress and operetta star of the day.

As a young man, Wills appeared in melodramas and stage shows all over the United States, including three years in a repertory company in San Francisco. He alternated between theatrical stage shows and vaudeville performances throughout his life. He was one of the first entertainers to perform at the famous Palace Theater, and he appeared in the 1913 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies.

Wills originated the humorous monologue routine "No News, or What Killed the Dog?" A recording of this routine was one of the best-selling records of its day. The routine was identified as one of 25 "cultural, artistic and historical treasures to be preserved for future generations" by the Library of Congress in 2008 under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000.

He married four times, and all of his wives were fellow performers. His first two wives died. His third wife, whom he married in 1910, performed under the name La Belle Titcomb. In 1914 Wills and Titcomb divorced and an ugly alimony battle ensued. Wills married May Day, whom he had met while performing in the Ziegfeld Follies, in 1914 and they had a daughter, Natalie.

Wills died on December 9, 1917, of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning while working on his car in a closed garage.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anja Kasap

Spouse (4)

May Day (actress) (1914 - 1917) ( his death) ( 1 child)
Heloise Titcomb (née McCeney) (equestrian) (1910 - 1914) ( divorced)
Mary Moncrief (performer) (18 May 1908 - 3 April 1909) ( her death)
Unknown Loretto (performer) (12 January 1897 - 28 April 1904) ( her death) ( 1 child)

Trivia (3)

Popular comedian of the Golden Age of Vaudeville, long with the Ziegfeld Follies. His speciality was playing a hobo character. Although his death was erroneously reported as a suicide, what evidence there is suggests that what happened was a tragic accident while he was tinkering with his car. He was found unconscious by the door of his garage, having apparently collapsed and died while trying to get out.
Third wife, an equestrienne known on the stage as La Belle Titcomb, divorced him and there was a bitter fight over alimony.
Daughter with May Day (actress), Natalie.

See also

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