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

Esther Muir
A Day At The Races 1937.jpg
Lobby card with Esther Muir and the Marx Bros. from A Day At The Races (1937)
Born(1903-03-11)March 11, 1903
DiedAugust 1, 1995(1995-08-01) (aged 92)
Years active1931-1945
Spouse(s)Sam Coslow
(1934-1948; divorced); 1 child
Busby Berkeley
(1929-1931; divorced)
Richard Brown
(?-?) (divorced)


Theatrical ReviewsEdit

Muir was born in Andes, New York one of ten children and began modeling in New York City while still a high school student. She soon won a role in a show called Greenwich Village Follies. 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 Esther became a favorite dancing partner of Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales. She befriended Wallis Warfield.

Movie ActressEdit

Muir is probably best known today for her appearance 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."[1] 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. He died before he was able to keep his promise."[2]

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]

Personal lifeEdit

Muir was introduced by columnist Walter Winchell to Hollywood director and choreographer Busby Berkeley, whom she married. They were divorced in 1931. "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.[3] In the 1950s the former actress became a real estate developer in southern California.[citation needed] She supervised the construction of more than 400 tract homes.[citation needed] She briefly battled polio but completely recovered in two years.[4]

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).[5]

Esther Muir died in 1995 at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York, aged 92. She had lived in Somers, New York.



  1. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 171.
  2. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 165.
  3. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 168.
  4. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 173.
  5. ^ "Theodore Eliopoulos obituary". San Francisco Chronicle. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2010 – via


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