Esther Muir (March 11, 1903 – August 1, 1995) was an American actress on Broadway and in Hollywood films.

Esther Muir
Esther Muir - A Day at the Races.jpg
Muir in lobby card from A Day At The Races (1937)
Born(1903-03-11)March 11, 1903
Andes, New York City, U.S.
DiedAugust 1, 1995(1995-08-01) (aged 92)
Mount Kisco, New York City, U.S.
Years active1922–1945
(m. 1934; div. 1948)
(m. 1929; div. 1931)
  • Richard Brown
    (m. 19??; div. 19??)

Early yearsEdit

Born in Andes, New York, Muir had six sisters and three brothers.[1] She began modeling in New York City while still a high school student.



While she was in high school, Muir became a showgirl in the Greenwich Village Follies[2] (1922). She participated in the Earl Carroll Vanities and in the International Review. The latter show starred Gertrude Lawrence. Her major break as a theatrical performer came when she landed the title role in My Girl Friday!, in 1929. While in London, England performing in a musical Muir became a favorite dancing partner of Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales. She befriended Wallis Warfield.[citation needed]


She made her film debut in A Dangerous Affair (1931). She continued to appear in motion pictures until 1942 when her daughter Jacqueline was born. Her final role was in X Marks The Spot.[citation needed]

Muir appeared with the Marx Brothers in A Day At The Races (1937). She toured with the Marxes in a stage version where material from the movie was rehearsed and crafted prior to filming. Muir described the Marx Brothers as diligent comic actors who sometimes worked days and weeks on a scene to perfect it. "We played pranks and had many laughs in spite of the hard and messy work. The Marx Brothers ad-libbed funnier material than the four top writers could concoct for them. It was an unforgettable experience, as well as a lucrative ordeal."[3] Her other screen credits include roles in I'll Take Romance (1937), City Girl (1938), and The Girl and the Gambler (1939).

"The disappointment of my life was failure to play Belle Watling in Gone With the Wind. Some people had written in and suggest me for the part, and David Selznick sent the script to me. I was on cloud nine. I shall never forget the producer saying, 'I have run several of your pictures and admire your work. Every time you play a tough character, however, some sweetness comes through. Someday I will use you.' He sensed my great disappointment."[4]

Personal life and deathEdit

An introduction by columnist Walter Winchell eventually led to Muir's marriage to Hollywood director and choreographer Busby Berkeley.[2] They were married in Baltimore, Maryland, in November 1929[5] and were divorced in 1931.[2] "His mother was widowed when Bus was a little boy, so she kept him on a leash until he married," she said in 1990. "I was my husband's keeper, but she continued to collect his salary. Her delusions of glamour, with a Park Avenue apartment in New York, a mansion in Dover and Loretta Young's mansion in Beverly Hills, required a Getty income to cover her expenses. I was left with the bills for our little Hollywood apartment and the necessities of life." She originally quit working to focus on her husband but the need for money prompted her to accept a role in a My Girl Friday! revival, which eventually led to the divorce.[6]

On January 3, 1932, Muir and actor Rex Lease announced their engagement. No date had been set for the wedding, and the two were awaiting final decrees in divorce actions.[7]

Muir married composer/producer Sam Coslow in Mexicali, Mexico on November 1, 1934. The couple repeated their wedding vows a year later in Ventura, California. The marriage ended in divorce in 1948. Her daughter, Jacqueline Coslow, became an actress and married actor Ted Sorel (né Theodore Eliopoulos).[8]

Muir was also married to Richard Brown, president of General Time Corporation.[9]

Muir developed real estate in southern California in the 1950s. Four hundred tract homes were among the projects that she supervised.[2] She briefly battled polio but completely recovered in two years.[10]

On August 1, 1995, Muir died at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York, aged 92. She had lived in Somers, New York.[2]



  1. ^ "Had no experience". The Gazette. Canada, Montreal. April 6, 1933. p. 4. Retrieved July 11, 2021 – via
  2. ^ a b c d e "Esther Muir, 92, Character Actress". The New York Times. August 9, 1995. p. D 20. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  3. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 171.
  4. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 165.
  5. ^ "Busby Berkeley marries". The New York Times. November 27, 1929. p. 34. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  6. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 168.
  7. ^ "Rex Lease and Esther Muir to Wed". The New York Times. Associated Press. January 4, 1932. p. 27. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  8. ^ "Theodore Eliopoulos obituary". San Francisco Chronicle. December 5, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010 – via
  9. ^ Oliver, Myrna (August 14, 1995). "Esther Muir; Movie Actress, Comedienne". Los Angeles Times. p. A 12. Retrieved July 11, 2021 – via
  10. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 173.


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