Famous Marriages

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1.
Gloria Swanson
Actress, Sunset Blvd.
Gloria Swanson was born Gloria May Josephine Svensson in Chicago, Illinois. She was destined to be perhaps one of the biggest stars of the silent movie era. Her personality and antics in private definitely made her a favorite with America's movie-going public. Gloria certainly didn't intend on going into show business...
 
2.
Wallace Beery
In 1902, 16-year-old Wallace Beery joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant to the elephant trainer. He left two years later after a leopard clawed his arm. Beery next went to New York, where he found work in musical variety shows. He became a leading man in musicals and appeared on Broadway and in traveling stock companies...
 
3.
Louise Brooks
Actress, Pandora's Box
A legendary actress of the silent film era. She epitomized the flapper age with her bobbed hairstyle, while blatantly flaunting the accepted sexual and societal roles of women at the time. She is best known for her starring roles in G.W. Pabst's "Pandora's Box" and "Diary of a Lost Girl," which were both filmed in Weimar Germany in 1929...
 
4.
A. Edward Sutherland
British-born A. Edward ("Eddie") Sutherland started in vaudeville and acted in films from 1914 at Keystone (he was one of the original Keystone Kops). He became a director in 1925, first with Paramount (1925-31), then at United Artists (1931-32), again with Paramount (1933, 1935-37), then Universal (1940-41) and RKO (1942)...
 
5.
Alla Nazimova
Actress, Salomé
The grand, highly flamboyant Russian star Alla Nazimova of Hollywood silent films lived an equally grand, flamboyant life off-camera, though her legendary status has not held up as firmly as that of a Rudolph Valentino today. Alla Nazimova was born Miriam Edez Adelaida Leventon in 1879, in Yalta, Crimea...
 
7.
Theda Bara
Actress, Cleopatra
According to the studio biography Theda Bara (anagram of "Arab Death") was born in the Sahara to a French artiste and his Egyptian concubine and possessed supernatural powers. In fact, her father was a Cincinnati tailor. By 1908 she appeared in Broadway's "The Devil" named Theodosia de Coppett...
 
9.
Norma Shearer
Actress, The Women
She won a beauty contest at age fourteen. In 1920 her mother, Edith Shearer, took Norma and her sister Athole Shearer (Mrs. Howard Hawks) to New York. Ziegfeld rejected her for his "Follies," but she got work as an extra in several movies. She spent much money on eye doctor's services trying to correct her cross-eyed stare caused by a muscle weakness...
 
10.
Irving Thalberg
Thalberg was born in New York City of German immigrant parents. He had a bad heart, having contracted rheumatic fever as a teenager and was plagued with other ailments all of his life. He was quite intelligent with a thirst for knowledge but, convinced that he would never see thirty, he skipped college and became...
 
11.
Mary Pickford
Actress, Coquette
Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Elsie Charlotte (Hennessy) and John Charles Smith. She was of English and Irish descent. Pickford began in the theater at age seven. Then known as "Baby Gladys Smith", she toured with her family in a number of theater companies...
 
12.
Douglas Fairbanks
Douglas Fairbanks was born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman in Denver, Colorado, to Ella Adelaide (Marsh) and Hezekiah Charles Ullman, an attorney. His paternal grandparents were German Jewish immigrants, while his mother was from an Anglo family from the South. He was raised by his mother, who had separated from his father when he was five...
 
13.
Vilma Bánky
Actress, The Eagle
Vilma Bánky appeared in Hungarian, Austrian and French movies between 1920 and 1925, the year in which Samuel Goldwyn signed her, in Budapest, to a Hollywood contract. In Hollywood she was billed as the "The Hungarian Rhapsody". In the mid and late 1920s she was Goldwyn's biggest money maker, especially playing with Ronald Colman...
 
14.
Rod La Rocque
Rod La Rocque was born Roderick Ross LaRocque on November 29, 1898 in Chicago to a French father and an Irish mother. Stage-struck in his early teen years, he spent his summers with local stock companies, playing juvenile roles for $1.00 per performance. By the time he was 16, while he was appearing in vaudeville...
 
15.
Marion Davies
Actress, Show People
Marion Cecelia Douras was born in the borough of Brooklyn, New York on January 3, 1897. She had been bitten by the show biz bug early as she watched her sisters perform in local stage productions. She wanted to do the same. As Marion got older, she tried out for various school plays and did fairly well...
 
16.
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was the greatest newspaper baron in the history of the United States and is the person whom Citizen Kane, widely regarded as the greatest film ever made, is primarily based on. While there are many similarities between Charles Foster Kane, as limned by the great Orson Welles and his screenwriter, Herman J. Mankiewicz (who knew Hearst), there are many dissimilarities also...
 
17.
Florence Vidor
Houston-born-and-bred Florence Vidor was one of the great beauties of early Hollywood. But while her photogenic looks went a long way, audiences would not get to enjoy or really experience her voice as she abruptly left the silver screen after her first disastrous attempt at a talking picture. Born Florence Arto on July 23...
 
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19.
Blanche Sweet
Born into a family of show people, Blanche first appeared on the stage when she was 18 months old. Blanche was a dancer by the time she was four and a talented actress by 1909 when she started work at Biograph with D.W. Griffith. At 14, she was two years younger than Mary Pickford, but her maturity and appearance soon lead to leading roles...
 
20.
Marshall Neilan
In the early days of silent pictures, Marshall Neilan was a top director for Goldwyn Pictures. He had also directed a small number of Louis B. Mayer's independently produced melodramas, but there was a mutual dislike between the two men. During the festivities inaugurating the merger of Metro and Goldwyn Pictures on April 26...
 
21.
Alice Terry
Actress, The Magician
Alice started as an extra in films at age 15. She worked in "Inceville" and would appear as several characters in 'Civilization (1916)'. In 1917, she would meet director Rex Ingram and they would marry in 1921. It was also in 1921 that Alice would gain acclaim as Marguerite in 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)'...
 
22.
Rex Ingram
Rex Ingram started film career as a set designer and painter. His directorial debut was The Great Problem. A true master of the medium, Ingram despised the business haggling required in the Hollywood system. He was also unhappy with the level of writing he found in American writers. This led him to work with such foreign writers as Vicente Blasco Ibáñez...
 
23.
Eleanor Boardman
Actress, The Crowd
Philadelphia-born Eleanor Boardman had always wanted to be an actress, and as soon as she graduated high school she headed for New York to conquer Broadway. When Broadway proved not quite ready to be conquered yet, she took whatever jobs she could find, including one as an artist's model. In that capacity she heard that the Selwyn Organization...
 
24.
Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast
Director, Laughter
Harry d'Arrast's entry into the movie industry was somewhat unusual--he was wounded while serving in the French army during WW I, and while recuperating in a military hospital met French-born American film director George Fitzmaurice, who invited him to come to Hollywood after he had recovered. He did so...
 
25.
Dolores Costello
Dolores Costello was once known as the Goddess of the Silent Screen but is probably best remembered today as Drew Barrymore's grandmother. She was born in 1905 to actors Maurice Costello and Mae Costello. Her father began his film career in 1908. He would soon become the most popular matinée idol of his day...
 
26.
John Barrymore
American stage and screen actor whose rise to superstardom and subsequent decline is one of the legendary tragedies of Hollywood. A member of the most famous generation of the most famous theatrical family in America, he was also its most acclaimed star. His father was Maurice Blyth (or Blythe; family spellings vary)...
 
27.
Alice Guy
Generally considered to be the world's first female director, French-born Alice Guy entered the film business as a secretary at Gaumont-Paris in 1896. The next year Gaumont changed from manufacturing cameras to producing movies, and Guy became one of its first film directors. She impressed the the company...
 
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29.
Norma Talmadge
Norma Talmadge was born on May 26, 1895, in Jersey City, New Jersey. The daughter of an unemployed alcoholic and his wife, Norma did not have the idyllic childhood that most of us yearn for. Her father left the family on Christmas Day and his wife and three daughters had to fend for themselves. Her mother...
 
30.
Joseph M. Schenck
Miscellaneous Crew, The General
People liked Joseph M. Schenck. Anyone who knew both him and his brother Nicholas Schenck would comment on how different they were. He came to New York in 1893 and, with his younger brother, built a drugstore business. They risked some profits and made more money in amusement parks. Marcus Loew bought one of their parks in 1907...
 
31.
Florence Lawrence
Florence Lawrence was the first film player whose name was used to promote her films and the studio (Independent Moving Pictures Company [IMP]) for which she worked. Before her, actors and actresses worked anonymously, partly out of fear that stage managers would refuse to hire them if they were found...
 
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33.
Dorothy Davenport
The Davenport family was well known in theatrical circles. Her aunt, Fanny Davenport was considered one of the greatest stage actresses of her time and her father, Harry Davenport, was a Broadway star before later venturing into movies. Her mother, Alice Davenport, was a respected Broadway and film actress...
 
34.
Wallace Reid
The son of writer-theater producer-director-actor Hal Reid, Wallace was on stage by the age of four in the act with his parents. He spent most of his early years, not on the stage, but in private schools where he excelled in music and athletics. In 1910, his father went to the Chicago studio of "Selig Polyscope Company" and Wallace decided that he wanted to be a cameraman...
 
36.
Jean Renoir
Son of the famous Impressionist painter Pierre Auguste, he had a happy childhood. Pierre Renoir was his brother, and Claude Renoir was his nephew. After the end of World War I, where he won the Croix de Guerre, he moved from scriptwriting to filmmaking. He married Catherine Hessling, for whom he began to make movies; he wanted to make a star of her...
 
37.
Asta Nielsen
Danish leading woman of German films who became one of the greatest stars of the silent era. A native of the Copenhagen suburb of Vesterbro, Nielsen was the daughter of a coppersmith and a washerwoman, both of whom died before Nielsen was fifteen. Her stage debut came as a child in the chorus of the...
 
39.
Enid Bennett
Actress, Robin Hood
Australian-born Enid Bennett (her sisters, Catherine Bennett and Marjorie Bennett, were also actresses) started her career on stage in Sydney. She became a well-regarded stage actress there, and eventually made her way to New York to conquer Broadway. Broadway, however, wasn't particularly interested in being conquered by Miss Bennett...
 
40.
Fred Niblo
Fred Niblo entered films in 1917, after two decades as a touring actor in vaudeville and one-time manager of the Four Cohans (he married Josephine Cohan, the sister of George M. Cohan). He appeared in two early Australian silent films in 1916, which effectively marked his screen debut. After that, he worked for Thomas H. Ince from 1917...
 
41.
Olive Carey
Actress, The Searchers
Olive Carey was born Olive Fuller Golden on January 31, 1896. Olive was 18 when she appeared in her first motion picture, a silent entitled, Tess of the Storm Country. After she made A Knight of the Range, she retired from films. In 1916, she married actor Harry Carey who was eighteen years older. They had two children...
 
42.
Harry Carey
Harry Carey, the silent film star and later B-movie cowboy and A-list character actor, was--like Clint Eastwood's "Bronco Billy"--a self-made Westerner. Born on January 16, 1878, in Bronx, NY, Henry DeWitt Carey II was the son of a prominent lawyer who was the president of a sewing machine company...
 
44.
Sessue Hayakawa
Sessue Hayakawa was born in Chiba, Japan. His father was the provincial governor and his mother a member of an aristocratic family of the "samurai" class. The young Hayakawa wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a career officer in the Japanese navy, but he was turned down due to problems with his hearing...
 
45.
Elisabeth Bergner
Elisabeth Bergner was the daughter of the merchant Emil Ettel and his wife Anna Rosa Wagner. She grew up in Vienna, and she made her theatre debut in Innsbruck in 1915. In 1916 she obtained a contract in Zürich, where she played Ophelia next to the famous Alexander Moissi, who fell in love with her. The next stage in her career was Vienna...
 
48.
Ivan Mozzhukhin
Ivan Mozzhukhin was a legendary actor of Russian silent films, who escaped execution by the Soviet Red Army and had a stellar career in Europe. He was born Ivan Ilyich Mozzhukhin on September 26, 1889, in the village of Kondol, Saratov province, Russia (now Penza province, Russia). His father was general manager of the large estate of Prince Obolensky...
 
49.
Doris Kenyon
The daughter of a poet, Doris Kenyon made her stage and screen debuts in 1915. She was often cast as a pleasant heroine in many silent films. She co-starred with popular silent-era actors like Rudolph Valentino and her future husband Milton Sills. Due to her stage experience she made a smooth transition to sound films. She could still be seen on television in the mid-'60s.
 
50.
Milton Sills
Son of stock broker and mineral dealer William Henry and banking heiress Josephine Antoinette Troost Sills, Milton Sills started out as a philosophy professor before joining Donald Robertson's stock company in 1906. By 1908, he was starring on Broadway. His film career commenced in 1914, and he became a steady box office draw until his sudden death in 1930.
 
51.
Natacha Rambova
Costume Designer, Salomé
Famed costume designer Natacha Rambova was Born Winifred Kimball Shaughnessy in 1897 to a drunkard father and a determined mother in Salt Lake City, UT (years later during the Minervala Dance Tour when her hometown paper promoted her as "that pigtailed Shaughnessy girl", she locked herself in her room crying and refused to come out)...
 
52.
Rudolph Valentino
Actor, The Eagle
Born in 1895 to a French mother and Italian father Rudolph Valentino grew up in Italy. His father died while he was young, and his mother spoiled him. He did poorly in school, and eventually ended up studying agriculture. After a stint in Paris he returned to Italy broke. Many times Valentino referenced something he did being the cause of being sent away...
 
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55.
Lila Lee
A performer since childhood (she was widely known then as "Cuddles"), pert and pretty, raven-haired Lila Lee was brought to Hollywood by Paramount mogul Jesse L. Lasky and debuted in a starring role with The Cruise of the Make-Believes as a poor girl supported by a rich admirer. Following her appearance as a servant wench in Cecil B. DeMille's Male and Female...
 
56.
James Kirkwood
A veteran stage actor, James Kirkwood entered films in 1909 as an actor and was soon playing leads in many of D.W. Griffith's early pictures. He turned to directing in 1912, and by 1914 was the favorite director of Mary Pickford, with whom he made nine films; he also co-starred in three of them...
 
58.
Dustin Farnum
American leading man of silent pictures who specialized in Westerns. His mother and father were, respectively, a singer and an actor, and he and his younger brother William Farnum were introduced to the theatre at an early age. Raised in Maine, Dustin attended the East Maine Conference Seminary, but left school to go on the stage at the age of fifteen...
 
59.
Betty Compson
A mining engineer's daughter, blond, blue-eyed Betty Compson began in show business playing violin in a Salt Lake City vaudeville establishment for $15 a week. Following that, she went on tour, accompanied by her mother, with an act called 'the Vagabond Violinist'. Aged eighteen, she appeared on Alexander Pantages Theatre Circuit...
 
60.
James Cruze
Coming from a Mormon family in Utah, James Cruze was reportedly part Ute Indian. He worked as a fisherman to pay his way through drama school. Among his former wives were actresses Betty Compson (also from Utah) and Marguerite Snow. He was also married to Alberta McCoy (died on July 7, 1960), who is interred in the Columbarium at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (unmarked)...
 
61.
Marguerite Snow
Actress, She
Although Marguerite Snow was born in Salt Lake City, her father--a comedian in vaudeville minstrel shows--traveled extensively, so she grew up all over the country. When her father died, she and her mother settled in Denver, Colorado. Marguerite took drama lessons with the intentions of becoming a stage actress...
 
63.
Claire Windsor
Actress, The Blot
Silent-era star Claire Windsor was born Clara Viola Cronk in Cawker City, Kansas, the daughter of Ella and G.E. Cronk. She was educated at Broadway High School in Seattle, Washington, and Washburn Preperatory Academy in Topeka, Kansas. She studied voice and piano at Cohn's Conservatory of Music in Seattle...
 
64.
Bert Lytell
Popular silent-screen star.
 
65.
Olga Tschechowa
Actress, Bel Ami
Olga Chekhova (also Olga Tschechova in German), one of the most popular stars of the silent film era, remained a mysterious person throughout her life and was accused of being a Russian agent in Nazi Germany. She was born Olga Konstantinovna von Knipper on April 26, 1897, in Aleksandropol, Transcaucasia...
 
66.
Michael Chekhov
Actor, Spellbound
Michael Chekhov was a Russian actor in the Moscow Art Theatre who emigrated to America and made a career in Hollywood, earning himself an Oscar nomination. He was born Mikhail Aleksandrovich Chekhov in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1891. His mother, Natalya Golden, was Jewish, and his father, Aleksandr Chekhov...
 
67.
Mabel Normand
Mabel Normand was one of the comedy greats of early film. In an era when women are deemed 'not funny enough' it seems film history has forgotten her contributions. Her films debuted the Keystone Cops, Charlie Chaplin's tramp and the pie in the face gag. She co-starred with both Chaplin and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in a series of shorts...
 
68.
Lew Cody
This dark-haired, suave American-born matinée idol of French ancestry abandoned a medical career after receiving favorable reviews for his performance in a school play at McGill Medical College in Montreal. He went on to study drama at the Stanhope Wheatcroft School of Acting in New York, then toured...
 
69.
Marie Prevost
Marie Prevost was born Mary Bickford Dunn in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, on November 8, 1898. She broke into films when she was 18 years old in Unto Those Who Sin. Finding work in films was difficult in the early days, just as it is today. Marie found herself doing odd jobs until 1917, when she made another film...
 
70.
Kenneth Harlan
On stage from ca. 1902, he became a leading man in US silent films and continued acting until the early 40's, when he retired from the screen.
 
71.
Alice Joyce
Alice Joyce, the film actress whose career stretched from the nickelodeon days into the sound era, was a natural actress, a true original. In an era that rewarded the unnatural in performance, Alice Joyce, with her understated performances, proved to be quite unlike most other silent-screen divas. She was born in Kansas City...
 
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Olga Petrova
British born Olga Petrova was born Muriel Harding on 10th May 1884 in England. She first made her film debut in Russia playing the role of Sofja Andreevna in Yakov Protazanov's 'Departure of a Grand Old Man' in 1912, she arrived in America around 1913 to appear on vaudeville and in the dramatic Broadway theatres...
 
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75.
May Allison
Born in Rising Fawn, GA (youngest of 5 children) Parents: Dr. John S. Allison and Nannie Virginia Wise Sisters: Maude, Verda, Zetta Brother: Herschel Mother Lived with her in California until her death. After Quirk's death, she met C. N. Osborne in NYC, they were married for over 40 years until his death in '82 and lived in Cleveland Ohio...
 
77.
Miriam Cooper
Miriam Cooper was born to Julian Cooper and Margaret Stewart in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1891. The family was Roman Catholic, and the Coopers were fairly well-to-do. After the birth of five children in five years (one of whom died in infancy), Julian Cooper deserted his family and fled to Europe. Margaret Cooper raised Miriam and her siblings Nelson...
 
78.
Raoul Walsh
Director, White Heat
Raoul Walsh's 52-year directorial career made him a Hollywood legend. Walsh was also an actor: He appeared in the first version of W. Somerset Maugham's "Rain" renamed Sadie Thompson opposite Gloria Swanson in the title role. He would have played the Cisco Kid in his own film In Old Arizona if an errant jackrabbit hadn't cost him his right eye by leaping through the windshield of his automobile...
 
79.
Marguerite Courtot
Little-known today but regarded in her time as one of the screen's great beauties, New Jersey-born Marguerite Courtot was sent in 1909, at age 12, to be educated in a European convent. By the time she returned to the US she had blossomed into such a beauty that she soon had a career as a top photographer's model; it didn't take long for offers from the film industry (much of which...
 
81.
Lois Weber
Director, Suspense
Lois Weber, who had been a street-corner evangelist before entering motion pictures in 1905, became the first American woman movie director of note, and a major one at that. Herbert Blaché, the husband of Frenchwoman Alice Guy, the first woman to direct a motion picture (and arguably, the first director of either gender to helm a fictional narrative film)...
 
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Anny Ondra
Actress, Blackmail
Anny Ondra was a Polish-Czech-Austrian-German-French singer, film and stage actress. As a child she lived in Prague, where her father was a colonel in the Austro-Hungarian army. After graduating from convent school in Prague, she studied to be an actress with Prof. Bor. She was already a star in the Czech theater when, at age 16, the teenage beauty was discovered by the film industry...
 
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Viola Dana
Viola Dana (real name Virginia Flugrath) was born in Brooklyn, NY, on June 26, 1897. She was the middle sister of three sisters (the other two were Edna Flugrath and Shirley Mason). She made her film debut in 1914 in Molly the Drummer Boy. The following year she received top billing playing "Gladiola Bain" in Gladiola...
 
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Samuel Goldwyn
Famed for his relentless ambition, bad temper and genius for publicity, Samuel Goldwyn became Hollywood's leading "independent" producer -- largely because none of his partners could tolerate him for long. Born Shmuel (or Schmuel) Gelbfisz, probably in 1879, in the Jewish section of Warsaw, he was the eldest of six children of a struggling used-furniture dealer...
 
96.
Adolphe Menjou
The words "suave" and "debonair" became synonymous with the name Adolphe Menjou in Hollywood, both on- and off-camera. The epitome of knavish, continental charm and sartorial opulence, Menjou, complete with trademark waxy black mustache, evolved into one of Hollywood's most distinguished of artists and fashion plates...
 
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98.
Victor Sjöström
Director, Körkarlen
Victor Sjöström was born on September 20, 1879, and is the undisputed father of Swedish film, ranking as one of the masters of world cinema. His influence lives on in the work of Ingmar Bergman and all those directors, both Swedish and international, influenced by his work and the works of directors whom he himself influenced...
 
99.
Mrs. Sidney Drew
Lucille McVey was a writer at Vitagraph when she met Sidney Drew shortly after his wife's death. They married almost immediately although he was more than twice her age. She scripted and he directed a number of domestic comedies, said to be more subtle and wholesome than those previously filmed. After his death she lost interest in films. She died in 1925 after a lingering illness.
 
100.
Sidney Drew
His mother claimed he was adopted, perhaps because her husband had been away touring for several years before Sidney's birth and was dead before the great event took place. Ethel Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore and John Barrymore, his niece and nephews, insisted he looked too much like "Mummum" to have been anybody else's child...