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Mary Astor Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (4) | Trivia (31) | Personal Quotes (10) | Salary (3)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 3 May 1906Quincy, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 25 September 1987Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameLucile Vasconcellos Langhanke
Nicknames The Cameo Girl
Rusty
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Mary Astor was born, Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke, on May 3, 1906 in Quincy, Illinois to a German immigrant father, Otto Ludwig Langhanke, and an American mother from Illinois, Helen Marie Vasconcellos, of Portuguese and Irish ancestry. Her parents were very ambitious for her as they recognized Mary's beauty and knowing if they played their cards right, they could make her famous. They understood that they wanted something better for their daughter than they had, so they made it happen by pushing Mary into various beauty contests. Luck was with Mary and her parents because one contest came to the attention of Hollywood moguls who signed her at the age of 14. Her first movie was a bit part in The Scarecrow (1920). It wasn't much, but it was a start. Throughout 1921-1923 she continued her career with bit or minor roles in a number of motion pictures. In 1924, Mary landed a plum assignment with a role as Lady Margery Alvaney opposite the great John Barrymore in the film Beau Brummel (1924). This launched her career to stardom as it did with a lively affair with Barrymore. However the affair ended before she could star with him again in the classic Don Juan (1926). Mary was, now, the new cinematic darling with each film packing the theaters. By the end of the twenties, the sound revolution had taken a strong hold on the industry and Mary was one of those lucky actresses who made the successful transition to "talkies" because of her voice and strong screen presence. Mary's career took off to greater heights. Films such as Red Dust (1932), Convention City (1933), Man of Iron (1935), and The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), kept her star at the top. In 1938, Mary turned out five feature films which kept her busy and in the spotlight. Afterwards, she churned out films at a lesser rate. In 1941, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Sandra Kovac in The Great Lie (1941). That same year she appeared in the celebrated film The Maltese Falcon (1941), but her star soon began to fall. Because of her three divorces, the death of her first husband, Kenneth Hawks who died in a plane crash, alcoholism, a suicide attempt, and a persistent heart condition, Mary got smaller roles in movies. In the whole of the 1950s she appeared in only five productions. Her final fling with the silver screen was as Jewell Mayhew in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). Even though this was her final film, she had appeared in a phenomenal 123 motion pictures. Mary lived out her remaining days confined to the Motion Picture Country Home where she died of a heart attack on September 25, 1987 at the age of 81.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Her German immigrant father pushed her into a beauty contest at 14 and her first movie Sentimental Tommy (1921) at 15. After a number of minor parts she starred in John Barrymore's Beau Brummel (1924). She had a lively affair with Barrymore, over with before she starred a second time with him, in Don Juan (1926), the first silent movie with Vitaphone music and sound effects. Her first husband, director Kenneth Hawks (brother of Howard Hawks), died in a 1930 plane crash. While divorcing her second husband in 1936 her personal diary was entered in evidence in the custody fight for their daughter. Included among other well-publicized juicy bits was her secret affair with playwright 'George S. Kaufman (I)'. Her career picked up after the scandal -- The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Midnight (1939) (again with Barrymore), Brigham Young (1940), and a best supporting Oscar for The Great Lie (1941). Her crowning role was the lying Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon (1941). Three divorces, alcoholism, and attempted suicide resulted in smaller parts from then on till Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), her last due to a heart condition. She lived her final years confined to the Motion Picture Country Home.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Spouse (4)

Thomas Gordon Wheelock (24 December 1945 - 30 August 1955) (divorced)
Manuel del Campo (18 February 1937 - 6 January 1944) (divorced) (1 child)
Dr. Franklyn Thorpe (29 June 1931 - 12 April 1935) (divorced) (1 child)
Kenneth Hawks (24 February 1928 - 2 January 1930) (his death)

Trivia (31)

WAMPAS Baby Star on 1926.
Attended and graduated from Kenwood-Loring School in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1959, she penned her frank autobiography, "My Story", which was a bestseller, a tell-all in which she openly discussed her battle with alcohol and her failed marriages, but, interestingly, avoided the subject of her film career. In 1971, she also wrote five novels and came out with a memoir, "A Life on Film", in which she DID discuss her film career. This was also a bestseller.
Sister-in-law of Howard Hawks and William B. Hawks, cousin-in-law of Carole Lombard.
Acording to an August 1924 Topeka Capital article, Mary Astor (Lucille Langhanke) grew up and attended school in Topeka. Her father was a window dresser at the Crosby Brothers store.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 38-40. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6701 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Gave birth to her daughter Marylyn two months premature on her yacht in Honolulu, Hawaii. Both mother and daughter almost lost their lives.
Lived with her close friend Florence Eldridge and her husband Fredric March following the sudden death of her husband Kenneth Hawks.
Her father Otto died in February 1943 of a heart attack and her mother Helen died in January 1947 of a heart ailment.
After shooting Little Women (1949), Astor decided against renewing her contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as she had grown tired of playing humdrum mothers.
Lived with her son Tono in Fountain Valley, California after filming Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) until 1971 when she moved to a small cottage on the grounds of the Motion Picture and Television Country House in Woodland Hills due to her chronic heart condition.
Having suffered from alcoholism for 20 years, Astor finally checked into a sanitarium for alcoholics in 1949.
Converted to Roman Catholicism in 1951 following a suicide attempt.
Was almost fired from Dodsworth (1936) following the revelation of her affair with George S. Kaufman, but Samuel Goldwyn insisted she remain in the picture.
Bette Davis was originally cast as Sandra Kovak, the hot-tempered but talented pianist, in The Great Lie (1941) but instead opted for the smaller role of Maggie Van Allen in a bid to let her good friend Astor save her film career. As a result, Astor won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.
Thanked both Bette Davis and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in her acceptance speech for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 1941 for The Great Lie (1941).
According to "Reel Facts: The Movie Book of Records", Astor earned $500 per week in the early 1920s at Famous Players and rose to $3750 per week at 20th Century Fox during the 40 week 1928-1929 season.
She was a staunch liberal Democrat who was active in the women's chapter of the Hollywood Democratic Committee as well as the campaigns of such liberal presidents as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter.
Had appeared with Henry O'Neill in five films: The Kennel Murder Case (1933), The World Changes (1933), The Man with Two Faces (1934), Upperworld (1934) and Dinky (1935).
Was the 17th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Great Lie (1941) at The 14th Academy Awards on February 26, 1942.
She died only seven days before her The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) co-star Madeleine Carroll.
Following her death, she was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Her nickname "Rusty" came from her dark auburn hair. One fan magazine described her hair color as "Titian, which photographs black, and her eyes are very dark".
In March 2014, she was honored as Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month.
Although "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" will show as Miss Astor's final film on a chronological list of her work, "Youngblood Hawke" was actually the last film she worked on. "Hawke" was released on November 4, 1964, before "Charlotte"; which was released about 7 weeks later, on December 24.
Became pregnant by her 1st husband Kenneth Hawks in July 1928 but she underwent an abortion.
Gave birth to her 1st child at age 26, a daughter Marylyn Hauoli Thorpe two months early in Hawaii on June 15, 1932. Child's father is her 2nd [ex] husband, Dr. Franklyn Thorpe.
Gave birth to her 2nd child at age 33, a son Anthony "Tono" Paul Del Campo five weeks early in California on June 5, 1939. Child's father is her 3rd [ex] husband, Manuel Del Campo.
Grandmother to Frances (b. March 11, 1951), Clare (b. July 16, 1955), Gabrielle (b. October 15, 1957) and John (b. November 28, 1961) via daughter Marylyn and her husband, Frank Roh.
Grandmother to Krystin (b. August 29, 1970) and Michael (b. December 11, 1974) via son Tono and his wife, Patrica Leuty.

Personal Quotes (10)

A painter paints, a musician plays, a writer writes - but a movie actor waits.
I was never totally involved in movies. I was just making my father's dream come true.
It's not good to make sentimental journeys. You see the differences instead of the sameness.
[on her early Hollywood roles] I was as two-dimensional as the screen itself: cool, indifferent, looking lovely in close-ups. Period. Period. Period. When was I ever going to learn to act? You can't learn if you can't experiment and find out what works and doesn't work. But the hours are long, the schedule rigid, so I did what I was told and saved time and money for the front office. And got a lot of jobs that way.
Once you start asking questions, innocence is gone.
A person without memory is either a child or an amnesiac. A country without memory is neither a child nor an amnesiac, but neither is it a country.
[on George S. Kaufman] He was the kind of man I'd go over a cliff for.
There are five stages in the life of an actor: Who's Mary Astor? Get me Mary Astor. Get me a Mary Astor Type. Get me a young Mary Astor. Who's Mary Astor?
At Metro, you practically had to go to the front office if you wanted something as real as having your hair mussed. All automobiles were shiny, a picture never hung crooked, a door never squeaked, stocking seams were always straight and no actress ever had a shiny nose.
I was never totally involved in movies. I was making someone else's dream come true. Not mine.

Salary (3)

John Smith (1922) $60 /week
Second Fiddle (1923) $750 /week
Beau Brummel (1924) $1,100 /week

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