Mary Miles Minter

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Mary Miles Minter
ActressMaryMilesMinter(1902-1984).jpg
BornJuliet Reilly
(1902-04-25)April 25, 1902[1][2]
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedAugust 4, 1984(1984-08-04) (aged 82)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Stroke
Other namesJuliet Shelby
OccupationActress
Years active1907–1923
Spouse(s)Brandon O. Hildebrandt (m. 1957–65)
ParentsJoseph Homer Reilly (1877–1958)
Charlotte Shelby (1877–1957)
RelativesMargaret Shelby (1900–1939)
 
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Mary Miles Minter
ActressMaryMilesMinter(1902-1984).jpg
BornJuliet Reilly
(1902-04-25)April 25, 1902[1][2]
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedAugust 4, 1984(1984-08-04) (aged 82)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Stroke
Other namesJuliet Shelby
OccupationActress
Years active1907–1923
Spouse(s)Brandon O. Hildebrandt (m. 1957–65)
ParentsJoseph Homer Reilly (1877–1958)
Charlotte Shelby (1877–1957)
RelativesMargaret Shelby (1900–1939)

Mary Miles Minter (April 25, 1902 – August 4, 1984)[1][2] was an American actress. She appeared in 54 silent era motion pictures from 1912 to 1923.

In 1922, Minter was involved in scandal surrounding the murder of director William Desmond Taylor, whom she professed her love for. Although gossip implicated her mother, former actress Charlotte Shelby, as the murderer, Minter's reputation was tarnished.

Minter gave up her movie career in 1923.

Early life[edit]

She was born Juliet Reilly in Shreveport, Louisiana, the youngest of two daughters born to Joseph Homer Reilly (1877–1958) and Lily Pearl Miles (later known as Broadway actress Charlotte Shelby). Her sister was Margaret Reilly, later became an actress using the name Margaret Shelby.

Career[edit]

Stage and film career[edit]

Minter circa 1917.

At the age of five, she accompanied her sister, Margaret, on an audition because no babysitter was available. She was noticed by the director and given her first part. She began her stage career and was frequently employed afterward, widely noted for both her talent and visual appeal. To avoid child labor laws while the 10-year-old was appearing in a play in Chicago, in 1912, Charlotte Shelby obtained the birth certification of her elder sister's deceased daughter from Louisiana, and Juliet became Mary Miles Minter.

In her screen debut, in which she was billed as Juliet Shelby, she appeared in the 1-reel drama short The Nurse (1912). From there her new stage name was applied and Minter was starred in the role as Viola Drayton, the fairy, in the 5-reel feature length drama The Fairy and the Waif (1915).

Minter's career steadily grew after that. She specialized in playing demure young women. With her photogenic features, blue eyes and curly blonde hair, she emulated and later rivaled Mary Pickford.

Her first movie for director William Desmond Taylor was Anne of Green Gables (1919). It was well received, and Taylor actively promoted Minter as a star. According to Minter, a romantic relationship developed between them. However, Minter (who had grown up fatherless) said Taylor had reservations from the outset and later curtailed the romance, citing the 30-year difference in their ages.[3] Other people who knew Taylor and Minter said he never reciprocated her feelings.

Scandal[edit]

On February 1, 1922, Taylor was murdered in his home, a two-story bungalow apartment on Alvarado Street, at the southeast corner of Alvarado and Maryland Street, in the Westlake area of Los Angeles.

Minter in 1924.

The ensuing scandal, following the Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle scandal of Labor Day weekend 1921, and the subsequent murder trial, was the subject of widespread media speculation and embellishment. Newspapers reported that coded love letters written by Minter had been found in his bungalow after his death (these were later shown to have been written three years earlier, in 1919). Minter was at the height of her success, having starred in more than 50 films, and newspaper revelations of the 20-year-old star's association with the 49-year-old murdered director was cause for a sensational scandal.

There were several suspects (including her mother, Charlotte Shelby) in the long investigation of Taylor's murder. In 1937, Minter publicly announced to the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper, "Now I demand that I either be prosecuted for the murder committed fifteen years ago, or exonerated completely. If the District Attorney has any evidence, he should prosecute. If not, then I should be exonerated... Shadows have been cast upon my reputation."[4] Taylor's murder was never solved.

In a 1970 interview, during which she described Taylor as her "mate," Minter recalled how she broke down and sobbed when she was allowed to view Taylor's body in the morgue.[5]

Later career and retirement[edit]

Minter made four more motion pictures for Paramount, with her last being The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1923). When the studio did not renew her contract, she received many other offers but declined them all, saying she had never been happy as an actress.

Personal life[edit]

In late 1922, several months following Taylor's death, Minter became romantically involved for a time with then-news correspondent of Los Angeles and movie critic Louis Sherwin, who had at one time been married to actress Maude Fealy.[6]

In 1925, Minter sued her mother for an accounting of the money Shelby had received for her during her screen career.[7] The case was settled out of court, with the settlement being signed by Minter and Shelby at the American Consulate in Paris, France, on January 24, 1927.[8]

In 1957, Minter and wealthy real estate developer Brandon O. Hildebrandt (1898–1965) were married. They remained married until O'Hildebrandt's death in 1965.[9] During the late 1970s and early 1980s, she was the victim of several robberies at her home in Santa Monica.

Later years[edit]

Minter commented she was content to live without her Hollywood career. She later reconciled with her mother and proclaimed her love for Taylor throughout her life. Minter's money had been invested in Los Angeles real estate and she seems to have lived in relative comfort and prosperity. She later moved to a house in Santa Monica, California. Her mother, Charlotte Shelby, died at Minter's house in Santa Monica, in 1957.

In 1981, Minter was severely beaten in a burglary at her home in which more than $300,000 worth of antiques, china and jewelry were taken. A former live-in companion and three other people were later charged with attempted murder and burglary.[10] The police described her as a frail old woman and people were often shocked to learn she had once been a famous movie star.

Death[edit]

Mary Miles Minter died at age 82 from a stroke in Santa Monica.[2][11] She was cremated and her ashes were scattered at sea.

For her contribution to motion pictures, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1724 Vine Street in Hollywood.

Legacy[edit]

While some of Minter's film appearances are lost, many still exist. A print of her 1919 movie, The Ghost of Rosy Taylor surfaced in New Zealand in the 1990s. Other known surviving movies include Youth's Endearing Charm (1916), A Dream or Two Ago (1916), Innocence of Lizette (1916), The Eyes of Julia Deep (1918), Nurse Marjorie (1920), A Cumberland Romance (1920) and The Little Clown (1921).[12][13]

Filmography[edit]

The Amazing Impostor (1919)
YearTitleRoleNotes
1912The Nurse-Credited as Juliet Shelby
1915The Fairy and the WaifViola Drayton, the Fairyextant
1915Always in the WayDorothy NorthLost film
1915Emmy of Stork's NestEmmy GarrettLost film
1915Barbara FrietchieBarbara, Mrs. Frietchie's granddaughterLost film
1916Rose of the AlleyNell Droganextant
1916DimplesDimplesextant
1916Lovely MaryMary LaneLost film
1916Youth's Endearing CharmMary Wadeextant; LoC
1916Dulcie's AdventureDulcieLost film
1916FaithFaithextant;George Eastman
1916A Dream or Two AgoMillicent HawthorneLost film
1916Innocence of LizetteLizetteLost film
1917The Gentle IntruderSylviaLost film; ?maybe EYE Institute, Nederlands
1917EnvironmentLiz SimpkinsLost film
1917Annie-for-SpiteAnnie JohnsonLost film
1917PeriwinklePeriwinkleLost film
1917Melissa of the HillsMelissa StarkLost film
1917Somewhere in AmericaRose Dorganextant; GEH,
1917Charity CastleCharityLost film
1917Her Country's CallJess SlocumLost film
1917Peggy Leads the WayPeggy Mannersextant; UCLA
1917The Mate of the Sally AnnSallyLost film
1918Beauty and the RogueRoberta LeeLost film
1918Powers That PreySylvia GrantLost film
1918A Bit of JadePhyllis KingLost film
1918Social BriarsIris LeeLost film
1918The Ghost of Rosy TaylorRhoda Eldridge Saylesextant: BFI, London
1918The Eyes of Julia DeepJulia Deepextant
1918Rosemary Climbs the HeightsRosemary Van Voort?
1918Wives and Other WivesRobin ChallonerLost film
1919The Amazing ImpostorJoan Hope ?
1919The Intrusion of IsabelIsabel TrevorLost film
1919A Bachelor's WifeMary O'RourkeLost film
1919Yvonne from ParisYvonne HalbertLost film
1919Anne of Green GablesAnne ShirleyLost film
1920Judy of Rogue's HarborJudyLost film
1920Nurse MarjorieLady Marjorie Killonanextant
1920Jenny Be GoodJenny RianoLost film
1920A Cumberland RomanceEaster Hicksextant
1920Sweet LavenderLavenderLost film
1920Eyes of the HeartLauraLost film
1921All Soul's EveAlice Heath/Nora O'HallahanLost film
1921The Little ClownPatextant
1921Don't Call Me Little GirlJerryLost film
1921Moonlight and HoneysuckleJudith BaldwinLost film
1921Her Winning WayAnn AnningtonLost film
1922TillieTillie GetzLost film
1922The Heart SpecialistRosalie BeckwithLost film
1922South of SuvaPhyllis LatimerLost film
1922The Cowboy and the LadyJessica WestoonLost film
1923Drums of FateCarol DolliverLost film
1923The Trail of the Lonesome PineJune TolliverLost film

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Louisiana Birth Certificate, Caddo Parish, No. 119, Book A, Page 97, Birth Date: April 25, 1902, Name: Mary M. Reilly [sic-Original Caddo birth record was recorded as "J.H. Riley's Child"], Sex: Female, Place of Birth: Shreveport, Father: J. Homer Reilly [sic-Original Caddo birth record recorded his name as "J.H. Riley"], Born: Texas, Age: 25, Mother: Pearl Miles, Born: Louisiana, Age: 23.
  2. ^ a b c Social Security Death Index, Name: Mary OHildebrandt, Birth: April 25, 1902, SSN: 564-32-9171, Issued: California, Death: August 1984, Last Address of Record: 90402 (Santa Monica, Los Angeles Co., CA).
  3. ^ Statement of Mary Miles Minter (LAPD) 7 Feb 1922 (retrieved 28 Aug 2007)[1]
  4. ^ Los Angeles Examiner (February 3, 1937), reprinted in Taylorology 74.[2]
  5. ^ 1970 interview of Minter by Charles Higham
  6. ^ 'Miss Minter Reported Engaged', The New York Times (December 6, 1922)[3]
  7. ^ 'Mother is Sued by Miss Minter', Los Angeles Times (January 30, 1925).
  8. ^ Los Angeles Examiner (May 29, 1936). The settlement was entered into evidence in a 1936 lawsuit against an investment firm.
  9. ^ "Memorial Rites for Real Estate Developer Set." Los Angeles Times. Aug. 24, 1965. p. 18.
  10. ^ "Mary Minter, a Golden Girl Tinged With Scandal, Dies." Los Angeles Times. Aug. 11, 1984. p. A 1.
  11. ^ California Death Index, Name: Mary OHildebrandt, Birth Date: 04-01 [sic]-1902, Mother's Maiden Name: Miles, Father's Last: Reilly, Sex: Female, Birth Place: Louisiana, Death Place: Los Angeles (19), Death Date: 08-05-1984, SSN: 564-32-9171, Age: 82 yrs.
  12. ^ Filmmuseum Biënnale "A Dream or Two ago" and "Innocence of Lizette" on the showing programm
  13. ^ Classic Images Surviving Films of Mary Miles Minter

External links[edit]