Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Christmas Album: Spring Byington

Day seven of our sleigh ride through the holidays has landed us back in 1954, with character actress Spring Byington offering us those glittering packages and her likable presence, an appealing blend of wise maturity and bubbly girlishness.

Born in Colorado in either 1886 or 1893, (some years may have been shaved off along the way in the actress' career), Spring's parents were Canadians who had emigrated to the Rocky Mountain state. After her college professor father's death, Byington's mother, a widow faced with supporting Spring and her sister Helene, went back to medical school in her home country, becoming Dr. Helene Byington, one of the first female medical doctors in North America. Sadly, overwork led to her mother's early demise, and by the time she was 18, the future character actress was already a member of a Denver stock company, supporting herself on the then fine sum of $34 a week.

Married that same year to a stage manager named Roy Chandler, the couple soon found themselves on tour in Buenos Aires, where they settled for several years, with Spring becoming a mother to her daughters, Lois and Phyllis. Following a divorce some years later, the actress returned to the United States.

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