Born on May 3, 1899 in McKeesport, PA, Aline MacMahon.
Luckily her family soon moved to Brooklyn. Why lucky? Because Brooklyn Newsstand offers one of the best free newspaper archive services on the web, so we can really go back in time with young Aline MacMahon.
Here's Aline MacMahon just a few weeks before her twelfth birthday:
The accompanying article explains that Mr. Pease was offended by four references to tobacco in the James Whitcomb Riley poem that little Aline recited. This item was found in the April 20, 1911 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, page 3.
Here she is a year later in the Eagle's Junior Eagle section, March 10, 1912, page 4:
Actually, she's a couple of months shy of age 13 above. The papers seem to routinely get her age wrong, though her 1899 birth is well documented.
Here's a link to her 1921 passport application which includes her May 3, 1899 date of birth in her own hand. And in case you don't bother viewing the image and flipping to the page following the default, here's the photo included with that 1921 application:
Now she looks like our Aline! By the way, that delightful "cleft in chin" is listed under distinguishing marks.
Here's an interesting one from 1914:
The above was discovered in the April 25, 1914 edition of Brooklyn Life, page 6.
Jumping ahead a few years, a shot of Aline MacMahon from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 16, 1926, page 10A:
Headline above and excerpt below found in February 18, 1928 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, page 12.
The Hollywood portion of Aline MacMahon's career began in 1931 with her appearance in Five Star Final, one of a few early Aline MacMahon titles covered on the site. See more about her performances in the following reviews: The Mouthpiece, One Way Passage, Silver Dollar (all 1932), The World Changes (1933), and her starring turn in Kind Lady (1935). I've also taken briefer looks at both Side Streets and Big Hearted Herbert (both 1934).
A couple of her best and most popular roles of the period that I have yet to review include Heat Lightning (1934) and, of course, Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933).
The next couple of excerpts that follow are from "Versatile Aline MacMahon" by Laurence Green, found in a 1943 edition of the New York Evening Post (no date or page number found on page).
Brief obituary of Aline MacMahon, found in October 14, 1991 edition of The Blade of Toledo, OH, page 10. Before I clipped this I noticed Regis Toomey's obituary immediately followed MacMahon's. They both died October 12, 1991.