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Betty Compson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (12) | Personal Quotes (2) | Salary (6)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 19 March 1897Beaver, Utah, USA
Date of Death 18 April 1974Glendale, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameEleanor Luicime Compson
Nicknames The Prettiest Girl in Pictures
The Hetty Green of Hollywood
Height 5' 2½" (1.59 m)

Mini Bio (2)

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, again doing her violin solo vaudeville routine, and was spotted there by comedy producer Al Christie. Christie quickly changed her stage name from Eleanor to Betty. For the next few years, she turned out a steady stream of one-reel and two-reel slapstick comedies, frequently paired with Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle.

In 1919, Betty was signed by writer/director George Loane Tucker to co-star opposite Lon Chaney as Rose in The Miracle Man (1919). The film was a huge critical and Financial success and established Betty Compson as a major star at Paramount (under contract from 1921 to 1925). One of the more highly paid performers of the silent screen, her weekly earnings exceeded $5000 a week at the peak of her career. She came to own a fleet of luxury limousines and was able to move from a bungalow in the hills overlooking Hollywood to an expensive mansion on Hollywood Boulevard. From 1921, Betty also owned her own production company. She went on to make several films in England between 1923 and 1924 for the director Graham Cutts.

During the late 1920's, Betty appeared in a variety of dramatic and comedic roles. She received good reviews acting opposite George Bancroft as a waterfront prostitute in The Docks of New York (1928), and was even nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of a carnival girl in The Barker (1928). She gave a touching performance in The Great Gabbo (1929), directed by her then-husband James Cruze, as the assistant of a demented ventriloquist (Erich von Stroheim), with whom she is unhappily in love. That same year, she appeared in RKO's first sound film, Street Girl (1929) and was briefly under contract to that studio, cast in so-called 'women's pictures', such as The Lady Refuses (1931) and Three Who Loved (1931).

The stature of her roles began to diminish from the mid-1930's, though she continued to act in character parts until 1948. Betty's personal fortunes also declined. This came about primarily as a result of her marital contract to the alcoholic Cruze, whom she had divorced in 1929 . For several years, Cruze had failed to pay his income tax and Betty (linked financially to Cruze) ended up being sued by the Federal Government to the tune of $150,000. This forced her to sell her Hollywood villa, her cars and her antiques. In later years, Betty Compson developed her own a cosmetics label and ran a business in California, producing personalised ashtrays for the hospitality industry.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Betty Compson was born Eleanor Luicime Compson on March 19, 1897, in Beaver, Utah. After her father's death she dropped out of school to help her family. She began her show business career as a violinist and toured with her mother in vaudeville. Betty was offered a contract with Al Christie in 1915. Over the next five years she appeared in more than forty short films. Her career really took off when she costarred with Lon Chaney in the 1919 drama The Miracle Man. She was called "The Prettiest Girl in Pictures"and became one of highest paid actresses in Hollywood. Betty was also one of the first women to run her own production company. In 1921 she starred in and produced the movie Prisoners Of Love. She married actor James Cruz in 1925 but they had a rocky relationship and separated several times. Unlike some other silent stars Betty was able to make the transition to talkies. She was nominated for an Academy award in 1928 for her performance in The Barker. Betty finally ended her marriage to James in 1930 and was left nearly bankrupt by their divorce. She was forced to sell her home and many of her possessions. Betty continued to make several movies a year and even started her own cosmetics line. She auditioned for the role of Belle in Gone With The Wind but did not get the part. Her second marriage, to producer Irving Weinberg, lasted just four years. At their divorce trial she testified that he left her home alone while he went out with other women. In 1944 she married professional boxer Silvius John Gall and decided to retire from Hollywood. Her final film was the comedy Here Comes Trouble. Betty and her husband went into business together and were happily married until his death in 1962. Betty died from a heart attack on April 18, 1974. She is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Elizabeth Ann

Spouse (3)

Silvius John Gall (8 August 1944 - 16 April 1962) (his death)
Irving Weinberg (14 December 1933 - 1937) (divorced)
James Cruze (25 October 1925 - 20 May 1930) (divorced)

Trivia (12)

Interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California, USA, Section B, Lot 853, Grave 4.
After she retired from the film industry she and her husband ran a business called Ashtrays Unlimited until her death.
Had no children.
Al Christie rechristened her "Betty".
She claimed that director George Loane Tucker taught her almost everything she knew, "the best of literature, music, all the arts, everything".
Was great friends with Zasu Pitts before she became a star.
A few months after she was born her father seemingly deserted the family for the Klondike gold strike. As it turned out, he made $25,000--a small fortune in today's terms--and returned to the family.
Began her career as a teenage violinist in vaudeville.
In 1918 Mack Sennett reportedly offered Compson $150 a week to leave Al Christie. Compson claims that when Sennett confirmed that the offer was legit, she replied, "In that case the bid's not high enough.".
Compson was sent a 1912 Rolls-Royce by a South American who had it stored in a New York garage. As she already had a limo, she was initially annoyed but later discovered she could rent it to the movie studios at $100 per day. She ultimately made $20,000 on it before selling it. This situation may have been the inspiration for a similar situation in Sunset Blvd. (1950).
Compson had a reputation for frugality and being a very mercenary negotiator with the studios.
Formed Betty Compson Productions, a film production company, in 1921.

Personal Quotes (2)

[About George LZoane Tucker] I fell in love with Tucker, but it did me no good - he was married.
They say I love money. I do, though it was pretty cold comfort, a pretty poor substitute, for all I'd lost. But, believe me, I wasn't going to pass up that much money for any false pride. Or any hurt I got down there on Poverty Row. I think if I hadn't felt that way, hadn't worked. I would have been done forever. I'd have gone straight to hell, to be frank about it.

Salary (6)

Some Chaperone (1915) $50 a week
The Miracle Man (1919) $125 a week.
Woman to Woman (1923) $3,500 /week
Woman to Woman (1923) 1000 pounds per week
Miami (1924) $3,500 per week
The Prude's Fall (1925) 1000 pounds per week

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