Mary Philbin

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Mary Philbin
Maryphilbin1.jpg
Philbin in 1922
Born Mary Loretta Philbin
(1902-07-16)July 16, 1902
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died May 7, 1993(1993-05-07) (aged 90)
Huntington Beach, California, U.S.
Cause of death Pneumonia
Years active 1918–1930

Mary Loretta Philbin (July 16, 1902 – May 7, 1993)[1] was an American film actress of the silent film era, who is best known for playing the roles of Christine Daaé in the 1925 film The Phantom of the Opera opposite Lon Chaney, and as Dea in The Man Who Laughs. Both roles cast her as the beauty in Beauty and the Beast-type stories.

Early life

Philbin was born on July 16, 1902[2] Chicago, Illinois into a middle-class Irish American family and raised Roman Catholic.[3] Her father, John Philbin,[4] was born in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland.

Career

Philbin began her acting career after winning a beauty contest sponsored by Universal Pictures in Chicago.[2] Relocating to California, Erich von Stroheim signed her to a contract with Universal, deeming her a "Universal Super Jewel."[4]

She made her screen debut in 1921 and the following year was awarded at the first annual WAMPAS Baby Stars awards, a promotional campaign sponsored by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in the United States, which honoured thirteen young women each year whom they believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom.

Over the course of 1920s, Philbin became a successful film actress and starred in a number of high-profile films, most notably in D. W. Griffith's 1928 film Drums of Love. In 1927, she appeared in the horror film Surrender,[5] though her most celebrated role was in the Universal horror film The Phantom of the Opera in 1925.[6] Philbin's ethereal screen presence was noted in a 1924 edition of Motion Picture Classic, in which she was referred to as "one of the astonishing anomalies of motion pictures...Pat O'Malley once said of her: "If I were superstitious I would think that the spirit of some great tragedienne of a forgotten past slipped into Mary's soul."[7]

Philbin played a few parts during the early talkie era and most notably dubbed her own voice when The Phantom of the Opera was given sound and re-released. She retired from the screen in the early 1930s and devoted her life to care for her aging parents.

Later life and death

Philbin spent the remainder of her life after leaving the film industry as a recluse, living in the same home in Huntington Beach, California.[2] She never married and rarely made public appearances. One rare public appearance by Philbin occurred in her later years at the Los Angeles opening of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom of the Opera.

She died of pneumonia at age 90 in 1993 and was buried at the Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

Filmography

Mary Philbin in Danger Ahead (1921)
Year Title Role Notes
1921 The Blazing Trail Talithy Millicuddy
1921 Danger Ahead Tressie Harloow
1921 Twelve Hours to Live Short film
1921 No Clothes to Guide Him Short film
1921 Red Courage Eliza Fay
1921 Sure Fire
1921 False Kisses Mary
1922 Foolish Wives Crippled girl Uncredited
1922 The Trouper Mary Lee
1922 Human Hearts Ruth
1922 His First Job Jimmy's Sweetheart
1922 Once to Every Boy Jimmy's Sweetheart
1923 Penrod and Sam Margaret Schofield
1923 Merry-Go-Round Agnes Urban
1923 Where Is This West? Sallie Summers
1923 The Age of Desire Margy (age 18)
1923 The Temple of Venus Moira
1923 The Thrill Chaser Cameo appearance
1924 Fools Highway Mamie Rose
1924 The Gaiety Girl Irene Tudor
1924 The Rose of Paris Mitsi
1925 Fifth Avenue Models Isoel Ludant
1925 The Phantom of the Opera Christine Daaé
1925 Stella Maris Stella Maris/Unity Blake
1927 Surrender Lea Lyon
1927 The Last Performance Julie
1927 Love Me and the World Is Mine Hannerl
1928 Drums of Love Princess Emanuella
1928 The Man Who Laughs Dea
1929 Port of Dreams Joan
1929 Girl Overboard Joan
1929 The Shannons of Broadway Tessie Swanzey
1929 After the Fog Faith Barker

Notes and references

Notes

  1. ^ "California Death Index, 1940-1997," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP2K-JTB : 26 November 2014), Mary Loretta Philbin, 07 May 1993; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.
  2. ^ a b c Slide 2002, p. 307.
  3. ^ "Recently Noted". The Catholic Charities Review. 26–27: 70. 
  4. ^ a b Sanchez 1930, p. 159.
  5. ^ Beck 1978, p. 63.
  6. ^ Beck 1978, p. 62.
  7. ^ "Tears". Motion Picture Classic. 20–21: 41. 1924. 

References

  • Beck, Calvin Thomas (1978). Scream Queens: Heroines of the Horrors. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-020-12140-4. 
  • Sanchez, Nellie Van de Grift (1930). California and Californians. 3. The Lewis Publishing Co. 
  • Slide, Anthony (2002). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-813-12249-6. 

External links

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