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Mary Miles Minter Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (26)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 25 April 1902Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
Date of Death 4 August 1984Santa Monica, California, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameJuliet Reilly

Mini Bio (2)

Little Mary Miles Minter was a child star who was dominated by her mother. At the age of 5 she first appeared on the stage in the play "Cameo Kirby". From that time on she worked steadily without a single vacation. Her greatest stage success was in "The Littlest Rebel", with William Farnum and Dustin Farnum. In 1911, at the age of 9, a New York paper described her as " . . . a ragged, straight-haired, woman-faced little one". She continued on the stage until 1915, when she started her film career. She was being groomed as a Mary Pickford star - a child of innocence. Her early pictures carried this theme with such titles as Lovely Mary (1916), Faith (1916) and Dimples (1916). Mary was described by the press as "of the screen as a sweet, pretty little girl with an abundance of blonde curls, a picture actress slightly bigger than a faint recollection, a little queen with delicate features and endearing young charms". She later worked for Adolph Zukor at Realart Pictures and one of her favorite directors was William Desmond Taylor. While at Realart Mary made a number of films including Anne of Green Gables (1919), Judy of Rogue's Harbor (1920), Jenny Be Good (1920) and The Little Clown (1921). Her salary, which started at $150 per week in 1915, increased to $2250 per week. At that time she also became involved with Taylor, but it is not known whether Taylor was looking out for his biggest star or if there was any real romance.

Then everything crumbled. On February 1, 1922, Taylor was shot to death in his Hollywood bungalow. His unsolved murder was one of Hollywood's major scandals, coming at the same time as the Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle incident. Though she was never considered a suspect in the murder, when the public learned of Mary's involvement with a man who had questionable dealings with women and was more than twice her age, they boycotted her films. The discovery of her belongings in Taylor's bungalow effectually killed her career in pictures. Mary was so weak from grief that she was barricaded in her home for a month. By the next year she had moved out of the home she shared with her mother and was out of pictures forever.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Mary Miles Minter was born on April's Fool Day in 1902, as Juliet Reilly, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Because her mother couldn't make it in show business, she began to live her dream through her daughter. By the time Mary was five years old, she had already appeared in a stage play. From that time forward, Mary overworked by her mother, obviously, not thinking of her daughter's welfare, but instead using her to climb the social ladder, not much different than some mothers of today. By 1912, Mary appeared in her first film production entitled The Nurse, playing the role of Juliet Shelby. After that first foray into film, Mary wouldn't appear again until 1915, when at the age of 13, she played a fairy in The Fairy And The Waif. For a youngster, she worked hard never knowing the joys of growing up as a normal little girl. She made only four films that year, but ground out nine films in 1916, ten in 1917, and seven in 1918. This was quite a grueling schedule for a young lady who was only 16 years old. Mary was being forced to grow up fast. But she was a bona fide star which may have cushioned the loss of her childhood. In 1919, Mary was still going strong, appearing in top flight films such as Anne Of Green Gables, Yvonne From Paris, and Rosemary Climbs The Heights. In 1920, she would continue to be the top billed star in other movies, Jenny Be Good and Nurse Marjorie. Her career continued unabated through 1920 and 1921. As a matter of fact, 1922 started out to be more of the same when Mary's life took a dramatic turn for the worse. She was 20 and reportedly romantically involved with famed director William Desmond Taylor when suddenly, Taylor was murdered in his home. This along with the Fatty Arbuckle debacle the year before caused the film colony to come under intense scrutiny. She wasn't considered a suspect by any means, but because of a young woman involved with a man who was old enough to be her father caused puritan America to turn on the actress who was once their favorite. Her films were no longer box-office draws, no matter how good they were. (The case was never solved, although the murder is relived today with conspiracy buffs trying to figure out who did it, much like Kennedy assassination buffs.) Mary was finished. After filming Drums Of Fate in 1923, Mary was never again on the silver screen. She had made 54 films and with the "talkie" era just a few short years away, she would no doubt have continued her dazzling rise to the pinnacle of Hollywood history. On August 4, 1984, Mary Miles Minter died in Santa Monica, California at the age of 82.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (1)

Brandon O'Hildebrandt (1957 - 1965) (his death)

Trivia (26)

Daughter of actress Charlotte Shelby
Sister of actress Margaret Shelby.
Silent-screen actress
At the time Mary (nee Juliet Reilly) entered show business around 1907, there was quite a stigma attached to the acting profession. Though Mary's parents were separated, her father forbade his wife and children to use his name of Reilly on stage. All three ended up with the last name of Shelby, which came from relatives on Mary's mother's side of the family. By 1911 "Little Juliet Shelby" became a well-known Broadway child actress.
The Gerry Society, which policed child performers, induced the over-worked 15-year-old stage star to change her name yet again in 1912 to protect her identity. The name "Mary Miles Minter" came from assorted family names on her mother's side.
Her first picture directed by William Desmond Taylor was the highly successful Anne of Green Gables (1919). Mary quickly fell in love with Taylor against her domineering mother's openly hostile objections.
The 1922 William Desmond Taylor slaying was the third major scandal to present itself in Hollywood. The first two were the drug-related suicide of beautiful young actress Olive Thomas in 1920 and the Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle sex party outrage that ended in the death of actress wannabe Virginia Rappe.
Two books have been written about the unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor. The first by director King Vidor's biographer, Sidney Kirkpatrick, in 1986, theorizes that Mary's jealous mother, Charlotte Shelby, committed the murder and used much of Mary's money to pay off various attorneys. A second book by Robert Giroux suggests that Taylor was killed by a hit man hired by a drug kingpin (Taylor was known for trying to drive drug dealers out of Hollywood).
After Mary's contract at Paramount was bought out following the William Desmond Taylor scandal (for $350,000) in June of 1923, Mary was broached by other studios such as UFA and Pathe with film offers, but the scandal took its toll on Mary and she emotionally wanted out of the public eye. She never made another picture again.
Mary and her acting sister Margaret Shelby sued their mother Charlotte Shelby over mismanagement of their money in the late 20s and won substantial settlements. They eventually reconciled with their mother.
In 1981 the 79-year-old Mary was brutally beaten and robbed in her home. A former servant was charged with the crime. She managed to recover.
After Mary's death, a second will named Margaret Kozma, a neighbor, as sole beneficiary of Mary's entire estate. Beneficiaries from the first will challenged this second will which was drawn up only two months before Mary's death when Mary was very vulnerable and quite ill. Ms. Kozma ended up claiming she was Minter's illegitimate daughter born in Paris in 1929, which is where Mary was residing at the time. In the early 1990s, the courts invalidated this second will and rejected Ms. Kozma's claim.
Took her screen name from an aunt who, along with her daughter, had died after unknowingly consuming apple cider contaminated with snake's venom. The aunt's daughter's birth certificate was passed off as Minter's own, allowing the ten-year-old to masquerade as a 17-year-old midget.
Only 6 Minter movies survive today.
Interested in numerology and astrology. Her interest in numerology prompted her and her husband to change their name from Hildebrandt to O'Hildebrandt.
Her sister Margaret Shelby was once married to President Millard Fillmore's grandson.
Anne of Green Gables (1919) was her favorite of all the films she made.
Her first (and only valid) will left her money to Gilbert A. Chasin, whom she said she loved as a son.
Suffered from diabetes in her later years.
Was groomed to be "the next Mary Pickford.".
A third book on the William Desmond Taylor murder, by Charles Higham, bases key data on official police material and other information gathered by director King Vidor, who spent years conducting his own investigation of the murder. This book, however, seems to bring all of the material together and offers a strong deduction that the murder was committed by Minter. It is understandable that a young woman, dominated by an obsessive mother, would be neurotic and love-starved. Higham's talks with Minter herself, and his insightful work, offer the best indications of the cover-ups that fogged over the investigation and the sad plight of Mary Miles Minter. She does indeed emerge from the book as the personification of Baby Jane.
Juliet Reilly was renamed Mary Miles Minter (the name of a deceased older cousin) because Juliet was found (at age 9) to be working at too young an age and in violation of early child labor law restrictions. The cousin was 4 years her senior so Juliet magically became Mary. Charlotte Shelby, the mother, was behind this deception, in order to keep the meal-ticket, Juliet, working.
Minter's mother routinely signed all her autograph requests.
Juliet Shelby was her first stage name.
Sources sometimes will disagree as to original state name, Mary M. Reilly or Juliet Shelby.
Some sources claim her birth name as Mary M. Reilly while others cite it as Juliet Reilly, which was probably only a stage name.

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