Mabel Hite & Mike Donlin

"The Clever Comedienne and the Famous New York Giant" / 1900s

(from Wikipedia)

Michael Joseph Donlin (May 30, 1878 September 24, 1933) was an American outfielder in Major League Baseball who played for the St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals (18991900), Baltimore Orioles (1901), Cincinnati Reds (19021904), New York Giants (19041908, 1911, 1914), Boston Rustlers (1911), and Pittsburgh Pirates (1912). He was one of the finest hitters of the dead-ball era.

On April 11, 1906, Donlin was married to Mabel Hite, a vaudeville and Broadway actress. Tragedy struck early in the 1906 season, however, as he broke his ankle sliding into second base and was lost for the remainder of the season. Cocky and brash as ever, Donlin demanded his same salary for the 1907 season as well as a $600 bonus incentive for staying sober throughout the year. When Giant owner John T. Brush refused, Donlin retired and sat out the entire 1907 season. Donlin spent the time traveling with his wife and became interested in the theater and the high-society lifestyle that came with it.

On October 26, 1908, Donlin made his stage debut in Stealing Home, a one-act play written by Donlin and Hite. Although the reviews for Donlin were mixed, critics raved over his wife's performance and the show became a smash hit. Claiming he made more money from his play, Donlin left baseball and vowed never to return to baseball but after 3 successful years, the play's popularity diminished and with Hite not able to land any successful roles, Donlin did return to baseball.

In 1911 Donlin returned to his old team and manager, John McGraw after a three year break for acting. Donlin's talents had declined and was no longer worth the problems he created and was sold to the Boston Rustlers, having only played 12 games for his former New York team. Boston immediately inserted him into their starting line-up and Donlin responded to hit .315 for them

Donlin later made the career change once again from baseball to acting, gradually switching from stage to screen. He had more success on the baseball field than in the entertainment industry, although he did appear in a number of movies in small roles, including the silent classic The General (1926). He was also retained as an advisor on a number of baseball movies. One of Donlin's great friends and drinking buddies was renowned actor John Barrymore. Donlin appeared in at least two of the actor's silent pictures, Raffles the Amateur Cracksman (1917) and The Sea Beast (1926).

In October 1914 Donlin married actress Rita Ross, known for her part in the musical comedy team, Ross & Fenton. Mike Donlin died of a heart attack in 1933 at age 55 in Hollywood, California.

San Francisco Call - December 4, 1910 (page 2)
The "Favorite American Comedienne" and
The Popular New York "Giant.*
Mabel Hite and Mike Donlin
In Their Musical Skit Entitled
"DOUBLE PLAY." By Vincent Bryan
(by Arrangement with Liebier & Co.)


1909 B.F. Keith 5th Avenue Theatre Vaudeville-Kinetograph program

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