Edna May

b. Edna Pettie, 2 September 1878, Syracuse, New York, USA, d. 1 January 1948, Lausanne, Switzerland. As a small child May appeared on stage in children’s productions of musical comedies and operettas,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography

b. Edna Pettie, 2 September 1878, Syracuse, New York, USA, d. 1 January 1948, Lausanne, Switzerland. As a small child May appeared on stage in children’s productions of musical comedies and operettas, before studying music at the New York Conservatory. In 1895 she made her New York debut as a member of the chorus of Santa Maria. Two years later she played Violet Grey in The Belle Of New York, and 1898 was in the same company’s London production. This show and May’s presence in it were highlights of musical theatre of the period and she became a much-admired star. Other productions followed, among them, and mainly in London, are An American Beauty (1900), The Girl From Up There (1901), also staged in New York the same year, Kitty Grey (1901), Three Little Maids (1902), The School Girl (1903), also staged in New York the following year, La Poupée (1904), The Catch Of The Season (1905), in New York, The Belle Of Mayfair (1906) and Nelly Neil (1907).

In 1900, May made a few records accompanied at the piano by Ronald Landon: ‘Dear Little Baby’, ‘They All Follow Me’ and ‘The Purity Brigade’. In 1907, May married for the second time, her new husband being millionaire Oscar Lewisohn. The couple settled in England where, apart from a brief benefit performance of The Belle Of New York in 1911, Day lived in retirement from the stage. In 1915 the couple returned to the USA and the following year she made a silent film, Salvation Joan, the story of which derived from The Belle Of New York. In 1917 Lewisohn died and reportedly his widow inherited $5, 000, 000 and thereafter May remained in retirement until her death in Switzerland, after which she was brought to London for burial.