Mae Busch was an Australian film actress who worked in both silent and sound films in early Hollywood. In the latter part of her career, she appeared in many Laurel and Hardy comedies, where she frequently played Hardy’s shrewish wife.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Busch was a member of a musical family. Her father was a conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and her mother was a singer. In 1900 her family moved to America, where she was placed in a convent. Upon her graduation Busch decided to pursue a career in theatre, and appeared on stage and then in vaudeville. She first appeared in films in The Agitator and The Water Nymph, both released in 1912. In 1915 she began working at Keystone Studios, where she appeared in comedy two-reelers. Her dalliance with studio chief Mack Sennett famously ended his engagement to actress Mabel Normand when Normand allegedly walked in on the pair. According to some accounts of the incident, Busch inflicted a serious head injury on Normand by striking her with a vase. At the pinnacle of her film career, Busch was known as the versatile vamp. She starred in such feature films as The Devil’s Pass Key and Foolish Wives, both directed by Erich von Stroheim, and in The Unholy Three, with Lon Chaney. Her career declined abruptly in 1926, when she walked out on her contract at Metro?Goldwyn?Mayer and suffered a nervous breakdown. Afterwards, she found herself working for less prestigious studios such as Gotham and Tiffany, and she was relegated mostly to supporting roles.
In 1927, she was offered a leading role in a Hal Roach two-reeler, Love ’em and Weep, which began her long association with Laurel and Hardy. She appeared in thirteen of their comedies, the last being The Bohemian Girl, released in 1936. Her film roles after 1936 were often uncredited. Overall, she had roles in approximately one hundred and thirty motion pictures between 1912 and 1946.