Madge Evans was a child model, stage and movie star, appearing in many ads, stage productions, and silent movies before she was even a teenager. She continued her career as an adult starring in movies through the 1930’s before turning to television. All told she appeared in over 95 movies and television shows in her career, with countless stage appearances.
Madge Evans was born as Margherita Evans on July 1, 1909 in New York City, New York. Evans started her career early as she was was posing as an artist’s model at six months of age. She was featured in print ads as the ‘Fairy Soap girl’ at the age of two. She sat on a bar of soap holding a bunch of violets with the tag line reading “Have you a little fairy in your home?”. When she was four years old, Evans was featured in a series of child plays produced by William A. Brady. She worked at the old Long Island, New York movie studio. Her success was immediate, so much so that her mother loaned her daughter’s name ‘Madge’ to a hat company. Evans posed in a mother and child tableau with Anita Stewart, then 16, for an Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company calendar, and as the little mountain girl in Heidi of the Alps. At the age of 8 in 1917, Evans appeared in the Broadway production of “Peter Ibbetson” with John Barrymore, Constance Collier and Laura Hope Crews. At 17, she returned to the stage and appeared in “Daisy Mayme”. Some of her best work in plays came in productions of “Dread”, “The Marquis”, and “The Conquering Male”. Her last appearance was in “Philip Goes Forth” produced by George Kelley.
As a child film actress Evans had a prolific career, appearing in dozens of films. In 1914 aged 5 she appeared with Marguerite Clark in “Seven Sisters”, a film with a large female ensemble that had been played on stage with Clark’s rival Mary Pickford and Laurette Taylor in the cast. In 1915 she was with Robert Warwick in “Alias Jimmy Valentine”. At 14 she was the star of J. Stuart Blackton’s rural melodrama “On the Banks of the Wabash” (1923). She co-starred with Richard Barthelmess in “Classmates” (1924). She was working on stage when she signed a movie contract with MGM in 1927. As with theater, she continued to play ingenue parts, often as the fiancée of the leading man. Working for MGM in the 1930s, she appeared in “Dinner at Eight” (1933), “Broadway to Hollywood” (1933), “Hell Below” (1933), and “David Copperfield” (1935). In 1933, she starred with James Cagney in a melodrama entitled “The Mayor of Hell”, playing a pretty nurse who solicits the aid of a tough politician, played by Cagney. Other notable movies in which she appeared are “Beauty for Sale” (1933), “Grand Canary” (1934), “What Every Woman Knows” (1934), and “Pennies From Heaven” (1936). Her last movie role was in “Army Girl” (1938). Later, she worked in radio and television in New York City. Evans performed on the Philco Television Playhouse (1949–1950), Studio One (1954), Matinee Theater (1955), and The Alcoa Hour (1956). She refused repeated offers to return to Hollywood. She retired in 1971.
In 1939, Evans married playwright Sidney Kingsley. The couple owned a 50-acre estate two miles from Oakland, New Jersey. Following her marriage to Kinsley, Evans left Hollywood and moved to the New Jersey home. They remained married until her death. Madge Evans died at her home in Oakland, New Jersey from cancer in 1981, aged 71.