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Publicity photo of Ferguson (1913)
|Born||August 19, 1885|
New York City, U.S.
|Died||November 15, 1961 76) (aged|
New London, Connecticut, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Frederick C. Hoey (1907-1914) (divorced)|
Thomas Clarke, Jr. (1916-1923) (divorced)
Frederick Worlock (1924-1930) (divorced)
Victor Augustus Seymour Egan (1934-1956) (his death)
Elsie Louise Ferguson (August 19, 1883 – November 15, 1961) was an American stage and film actress.
Born in New York City, Elsie Ferguson was the only child of Hiram and Amelia Ferguson.[ citation needed ] Her father was a successful attorney. Raised and educated in Manhattan, she became interested in the theater at a young age and made her stage debut at 17 as a chorus girl in a musical comedy. For almost two years, from 1903 to 1905, she was a cast member in The Girl from Kays . In 1908, she was leading lady to Edgar Selwyn in Pierre of the Plains. By 1909, after several years apprenticeship under several producers, including Charles Frohman, Klaw & Erlanger, Charles Dillingham and Henry B. Harris, she was a major Broadway star, starring in Such a Little Queen. In 1910, she spent time on the stage in London. Actresses Evelyn Nesbit and Ethel Barrymore were friends of hers.
During World War I, a number of Broadway stars organized a campaign to sell Liberty Bonds from the theatre stage before the performance as well as at highly publicized appearances at places such as the New York Public Library. On one occasion, Ferguson is reputed to have sold $85,000 worth of bonds in less than an hour.
At the peak of her popularity, several film studios offered her a contract but she declined them all until widely respected New York-based French director Maurice Tourneur proposed she appear in the lead role as a sophisticated patrician in his 1917 silent film Barbary Sheep . She also may have consented to films because she no longer had the protection of her Broadway employers Henry B. Harris, who died on the Titanic in 1912, and Charles Frohman, who perished on the Lusitania in 1915. Producer and director Adolph Zukor then signed her to an 18-film, three-year, $5,000-per-week contract.
Following this first film, Ferguson was billed prominently in promotional campaigns,[ citation needed ] and starred in two more films directed by Tourneur under a lucrative contract from Paramount Pictures that paid her $1,000 per day of filming in addition to her weekly contract income. Her only surviving complete silent film is The Witness for the Defense (1919), co-starring Warner Oland and performed as a play in 1911 by her friend Ethel Barrymore. A surviving fragment of footage of Ferguson from The Lie or The Avalanche can be seen in Paramount's The House That Shadows Built (1931). Other brief surviving footage of Ferguson is preserved in Paramount's A Trip to Paramountown (1922)
Continuing to play roles of elegant society women, Ferguson was quickly dubbed "The Aristocrat of the Silent Screen", but the aristocratic label also was because she was known as a difficult and sometimes arrogant personality with whom to work. Many of the films she agreed to do were because they were adaptations of stage plays with which she was familiar.
Elsie Ferguson eventually followed the move west and bought a home in the hills of Hollywood, California. In 1920, she traveled to the Middle East and Europe. She fell in love with Paris and the French Riviera, and within a few years, she bought a permanent home there.
In 1921, she accepted another contract offer from Paramount Pictures to star in four films to be spread over a two-year period. One of these was the 1921 film entitled Forever in which she starred with Wallace Reid.
In 1925, she made only one film before returning to the Broadway stage. In 1930, she made her first sound film that also would be her final film, titled Scarlet Pages , which is now preserved in the Library of Congress.Although her voice came across well enough, at age 47, she was well past her prime for fans who wanted to see her as the great youthful beauty she had once been.
Well known as difficult to work with, temperamental, and argumentative, she married four times. Following her final marriage at age 51, she and her husband acquired a farm in Connecticut and divided their time between it and her home in Cap d'Antibes.
Ferguson made her final appearance on Broadway in 1943, at the age of 60, that met with critical acclaim. She played in Outrageous Fortune, a play written by her neighbor Rose Franken. The play closed eight weeks after it opened. Critics hailed Ferguson's performance as "glowing" and having "the charm and winning manner of old."[ citation needed ]
Elsie Ferguson died in Lawrence Memorial Hospital in New London, Connecticut, in 1961.She lived on an estate called White Gate Farms. She was interred in the Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme, Connecticut. A very wealthy woman with no heirs and a lover of animals, she left a large part of her considerable estate to a variety of charities, including several for animal welfare.
|1917||Barbary Sheep||Lady Katherine 'Kitty' Wyverne|
|1917||The Rise of Jennie Cushing||Jenny Cushing|
|1918||Rose of the World||Rosamond English|
|1918||The Song of Songs||Lily Kardos|
|1918||The Lie||Elinor Shale|
|1918||A Doll's House||Nora Helmer|
|1918||The Danger Mark||Geraldine Seagrave|
|1918||Heart of the Wilds||Jen Galbraith|
|1918||The Spirit That Wins||Elsie||Short; for war effort|
|1918||Under the Greenwood Tree||Mary Hamilton|
|1919||His Parisian Wife||Fauvette|
|1919||The Marriage Price||Helen Tremaine|
|1919||Eyes of the Soul||Gloria Swann|
|1919||The Avalanche||Chichita / Madame Delano / Helene|
|1919||A Society Exile||Nora Shard, aka Christine|
|1919||The Witness for the Defense||Stella Derrick|
|1920||His House in Order||Nina Graham|
|1920||Lady Rose's Daughter||Julie le Breton / Lady Rose / Lady Maude|
|1921||Sacred and Profane Love||Carlotta Peel|
|1921||Footlights||Lisa Parsinova / Lizzie Parsons|
|1922||A Trip to Paramountown||Herself||Documentary short|
|1924||Broadway After Dark||Herself||Short|
|1925||The Unknown Lover||Elaine Kent|
|1930||Scarlet Pages||Mary Bancroft||(final film role)|
Lionel Barrymore was an American actor of stage, screen and radio as well as a film director. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in A Free Soul (1931), and remains best known to modern audiences for the role of villainous Mr. Potter in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life.
Ethel Barrymore was an American actress and a member of the Barrymore family of actors. Barrymore was a stage, screen and radio actress whose career spanned six decades, and was regarded as "The First Lady of the American Theatre".
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Olga Petrova was a British-American actress, screenwriter and playwright.
Sarah Blanche Sweet was an American silent film actress who began her career in the earliest days of the Hollywood motion picture film industry.
Marie Doro was an American stage and film actress of the early silent film era.
Constance Binney was an American stage and film actress and dancer.
Georgiana Emma Drew, a.k.a.Georgie Drew Barrymore, was an American stage actress and comedian and a member of the Barrymore acting family.
Forever is a 1921 American silent romance film, also known as Peter Ibbetson, that was written by Ouida Bergère and directed by George Fitzmaurice. It was adapted from George du Maurier's 1891 novel Peter Ibbetson, which was made into a play of the same name by John N. Raphael.
Charlotte Ganahl Walker was a Broadway theater actress.
Irene Fenwick was an American stage and silent film actress. She was married to Lionel Barrymore from 1923 until her death in 1936. Fenwick has several surviving feature films from her productions for the Kleine-Edison Feature Film Service, which also has numerous surviving shorts in the Library of Congress.
Henrietta Foster Crosman was an American stage and film actress.
The Witness for the Defense is a 1919 American silent drama film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Elsie Ferguson, Warner Oland, and Wyndham Standing.
Dancing Mothers is a 1926 American black and white silent drama film produced by Paramount Pictures. The film was directed by Herbert Brenon, and stars Alice Joyce, Conway Tearle, and making her debut appearance for a Paramount Pictures film, Clara Bow. Dancing Mothers was released to the general public on March 1, 1926. The film survives on 16mm film stock and is currently kept at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Jack Straw is a 1920 American silent comedy film produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures. William C. deMille directed the film and Robert Warwick and Carroll McComas star. The film is based on a 1908 stage play by W. Somerset Maugham starring John Drew and a young Mary Boland. Winston Churchill made a cameo appearance in the original film. In 1926 Paramount attempted a remake of this film called The Waiter from the Ritz which was begun and/or completed but never released. James Cruze directed and Raymond Griffith starred; this film, if completed, is now lost. The 1920 film survives at the Library of Congress.
Sacred and Profane Love is a 1921 American silent drama film produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures. This film was directed by William Desmond Taylor and starred Elsie Ferguson with Conrad Nagel. It is based on a book The Book of Carlotta by Arnold Bennett and was turned into a 1920 Broadway play which also starred Elsie Ferguson. Writer/director Julia Crawford Ivers adapted the book and play to the screen while her son James Van Trees served as one of the film's cinematographers. All known copies of this film are lost.
Rose of the World is a lost 1918 American silent drama film produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Artcraft Pictures, an affiliate of Paramount Pictures. It is based on the novels of Agnes and Egerton Castle. The film was directed by Maurice Tourneur and stars Elsie Ferguson.
A Doll's House is a 1918 American silent drama film produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Artcraft Pictures, an affiliate of Paramount Pictures. It is the third American motion picture filming of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play A Doll's House. Maurice Tourneur directed and Elsie Ferguson starred. This film is lost.
The Nightingale is a 1914 American silent drama film directed and written by Augustus Thomas and released by Alco Film Corporation. It is the motion picture debut of Ethel Barrymore in a story written especially for her by Thomas. Thomas, famed as a Broadway playwright, was the best friend of Barrymore's father Maurice and had known the actress since she was a child. As with many of Barrymore's films to come, the advertising for this film says the film is told in 'acts' as with a stage play, an effort to remind the audience of the star's status and preference for the legitimate stage. This film is long thought to be lost.
Hattie Williams was an American stage actress, comedian and vocalist from Boston. She first gained fame in several farcical plays by Charles Hoyt. In 1886, she performed with John A. Arneaux's Shakespearean acting troupe as Lady Anne in Richard III. She was a popular player in vaudeville and with Charles Frohman's theatrical company at the turn of the twentieth century and appeared often at his famous Empire Theatre, New York. Williams retired from the theatre in 1914 at the height of her career.
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