Friday 29 November 2013


In 1927 Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan married for the second time. His new wife, Evelyn Hambly (Jan 27, 1897 – Jan 14, 1964), was a 30-year old actress who did most of her professional work during the first two decades of the 20th Century in California, the Pacific Northwest and, for four years between 1922 and 1926, in Calgary, Alberta. After that she seems to have mostly left the craft and faded from sight -- although, to a limited degree, after marrying MacLauchlan, she did some producing and directing in Calgary for amateur productions.

Evelyn Dee Hambly was born in San Diego, California. She seems to have been a bit of a prodigy, appearing on stage when she was four years old. Her single film role was in the silent flick “The Shark God,” released in May 1913. This was a story of pre-missionary Hawaii, woven around the ancient superstition of the Hawaiians concerning the shark god and its power over the lives of the people, and the love affair of a chief's daughter. It was released on May 5, 1913.

In May 1917, she married fellow actor Robert E. Lawrence in California; he was four months younger than her, having been born May 19, 1897 in Missouri. Both bride and groom were 20 years old. Their son, Robert, was born November 20, 1918.

The most documented part of Evelyn Hambly’s theatrical career, if not her life, relates to her stage career in Calgary, Alberta between 1922 and 1925. During the latter year, she left Calgary and went to Seattle to stay with her sister Mabel, who was also involved in theatre and was married to a rather well-known set designer named Alwin Theall. Born in St Johns, New Brunswick, Canada on Oct. 7, 1876, Alwin Theall came to northern California with his parents in 1880. By the turn of the century he was working as an artist in San Jose. He later worked as a scenic artist at the Liberty Theater in San Francisco. He died there on June 10, 1939. 

As the world entered a new decade, Hambly was hitting the big time boards – in Vancouver. She had quite a serious role in a Vancouver stage production by the Empress Theatre Company of Eugene Walter’s The Knife, a play about a female doctor, a relative novelty at the time. The June 24, 1920 Vancouver Sun praised Hambly’s performance as follows:

Miss Evelyn Hambly, who has come to be regarded as one of the most accomplished members of the [Empress Stock Company] gives the character an interpretation which is thoroughly satisfying. She visualizes the woman medico as a smart tailor made, efficient business woman, self confident and alert. The part is an important one, because from her lips comes the speech which throws the fine light on the conduct of the hero which clears him from an easily misunderstood situation.

While in Calgary, Hambly lived at a fairly exclusive address – The Devenish Apartments.

By 1926, Hambly’s stage career was pretty well over and in that year she moved to Seattle to be with her sister Mabel. As mentioned above, her marriage to Dr MacLauchlan followed shortly after. The papers in Calgary, during the height of her stage career in that city, had described her in glowing terms – praising her vivaciousness and sprightly personality. However, the bloom went off her rose and by 20 years later, her neighbours, the Pecover sisters, saw her in a different, rather unattractive light:

Evelyn MacLauchlan had henna hair, bad teeth and jowly cheeks. You would know by her look that she was a retired show girl.

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