Ethel Clayton

Last updated

Ethel Clayton
Clayton in 1910
Born(1882-11-08)November 8, 1882
DiedJune 6, 1966(1966-06-06) (aged 83)
Years active1909–1948
  • Joseph Kaufman [1]
    (m. 1915; died 1918)
(m. 1928;div. 1931)

Ethel Clayton (November 8, 1882 – June 6, 1966) was an American actress of the silent film era.


Early years

Born in Champaign, Illinois, Clayton attended St. Elizabeth's school in Chicago. [2]


Clayton debuted on stage as a professional as a member of the chorus in a production at the Chicago Opera House. After that, she worked with stock theater companies in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. [2]

On stage, Clayton appeared mainly in musicals or musical revues such as Ziegfeld Follies of 1911. In addition to that production, her Broadway credits include Fancy Free (1918), You're in Love (1917), Nobody Home (1915), The Red Canary (1914), The Brute (1912), and His Name on the Door (1909). [3]

Clayton's first film was When the Earth Trembled. [2] Following appearances on screen in short dramas from 1909 to 1912, she made her feature-length film debut in For the Love of a Girl in 1912. Barry O'Neil directed the film, and Clayton later was directed by William Demille, Robert G. Vignola, George Melford and Donald Crisp in subsequent feature films. Like many silent film actors, Clayton's career was hurt by the coming of sound to motion pictures. She continued her career in small parts in films until she retired in 1948.

Personal life

In 1931, Clayton obtained a California Superior Court order enjoining her former business partner, W.L. Rucker, from disposing of 316 pearls. [4] Clayton and Rucker agreed to purchase a cosmetics business and the pearls had been entrusted to Rucker to raise money. The deal fell through and he refused to return the jewels. Rucker admitted to possessing the pearls but claimed they had been pledged as security for a $125 loan. The pearls were valued at $20,000. [5]


Clayton was first married to actor-director Joseph Kaufman [6] until his death in 1918 in the Spanish flu epidemic. [7] [8] She later married silent film actor and former star Ian Keith twice and they divorced twice. In both cases Clayton cited cruelty and excessive drinking. Clayton and Keith were first married in Minneapolis in 1928 and first separated on January 13, 1931. [9]


Clayton died on June 6, 1966, at Guardian Convalescent Hospital [10] in Oxnard, California, aged 83. [11] She was buried at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura, California.[ citation needed ]

For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Clayton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6936 Hollywood Boulevard. [12]

Selected filmography

His Brother's Wife (1916) His Brother's Wife.jpg
His Brother's Wife (1916)
The Woman Beneath (1917) The Woman Beneath.jpg
The Woman Beneath (1917)
Photograph by Melbourne Spurr, 1922. Ethel Clayton 1922.jpg
Photograph by Melbourne Spurr, 1922.
Charles K. French and Ethel Clayton in a scene from Beyond (1921) Charles K. French Ethel Clayton.jpg
Charles K. French and Ethel Clayton in a scene from Beyond (1921)

1909 to 1914













1928 to 1947

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alice Brady</span> American actress (1892–1939)

Alice Brady was an American actress of stage and film. She began her career in the theatre in 1911, and her first important success came on Broadway in 1912 when she created the role of Meg March in the original production of Marian de Forest's Little Women. As a screen actress she first appeared in silent films and was one of the few actresses to survive the transition into talkies. She worked until six months before her death from cancer in 1939. Her films include My Man Godfrey (1936), in which she plays the flighty mother of Carole Lombard's character, and In Old Chicago (1937) for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ethel Barrymore</span> American actress (1879–1959)

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". She received four nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, winning for None but the Lonely Heart (1944).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maurice Tourneur</span> French film director and screenwriter (1876–1961)

Maurice Félix Thomas, known as Maurice Tourneur, was a French film director and screenwriter.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hobart Bosworth</span> American film actor

Hobart Van Zandt Bosworth was an American film actor, director, writer, and producer. Bosworth began his career in theater, eventually transitioning to the emerging film industry. Despite a battle with tuberculosis, he found success in silent films, establishing himself as a lead actor and pioneering the industry in California. Bosworth started his own production company, Hobart Bosworth Productions, in 1913, focusing on Jack London melodramas. After the company closed, Bosworth continued to act in supporting roles, surviving the transition to sound films. He is known as the "Dean of Hollywood" for his role in shaping the California film industry. In 1960, Bosworth was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irving Cummings</span> American actor (1888–1959)

Irving Cummings was an American movie actor and director.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Kirkwood Sr.</span> American actor and film director

James Cornelius Kirkwood Sr. was an American actor and director.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eugene O'Brien (actor)</span> American actor

Eugene O'Brien was an American silent film star and stage actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beatrice Van</span> American actress

Beatrice Van was an American silent film actress. She was also a screenwriter for both silent and sound films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kate Bruce</span> American actress (1860–1946)

Kate Bruce was an American actress of the silent era. She appeared in more than 280 films between 1908 and 1931. She was born in Columbus, Indiana, and died in New York, New York. In 1885, Bruce left Boone, Iowa, in a wagon with a group of traveling actors at a time when stages were illuminated by oil lights. On Broadway, Bruce performed in The Starbucks (1903).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Claire McDowell</span> American actress (1877–1966)

Claire McDowell was an American actress of the silent era. She appeared in 350 films between 1908 and 1945.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lillian Walker</span> American actress

Lillian Walker, born Lillian Wolke, was an American film actress of the silent era. She appeared in more than 170 films, most of them shorts, between 1909 and 1934.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles West (actor)</span> American actor

Charles West was an American film actor of the silent film era. He appeared in more than 300 films between 1908 and 1937. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and died in Los Angeles, California.

Frederick J. Jackson, also known professionally as Fred Jackson and Frederick Jackson and under the pseudonym Victor Thorne, was an American author, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and producer for both stage and film. A prolific writer of short stories and serialized novels, most of his non-theatre works were published in pulp magazines such as Detective Story Magazine and Argosy. Many of these stories were adapted into films by other writers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conway Tearle</span> American actor

Conway Tearle was an American stage actor who went on to perform in silent and early sound films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Julia Swayne Gordon</span> American actress

Julia Swayne Gordon was an American actress who appeared in at least 228 films between 1908 and 1933.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Berta Ruck</span> Welsh novelist in English (1878–1978)

Amy Roberta (Berta) Ruck was a prolific Welsh writer of over 90 romance novels from 1905 to 1972. She also wrote short stories, an autobiography and two books of memoirs. Her married name was Mrs Oliver Onions from 1909 until 1918, when her husband changed his name and she became Amy Oliver.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Helen Ware</span> American actress

Helen Ware was an American stage and film actress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Emmy Wehlen</span> German actress

Emily "Emmy" Wehlen (1887–1977) was a German-born Edwardian musical comedy and silent film actress who vanished from the public eye while in her early thirties.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Julia Hurley (actress)</span> American actress

Julia R. Hurley was an American actress who found popularity in her senior years in silent films. She is best remembered today as the 'landlady with the lamp' in the John Barrymore classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1920, a role for which she is uncredited. This film is her most readily available film today.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Florence Short</span> American actress (1893–1946)

Florence Short was an American actress. She had numerous film roles as a supporting actress and was also cast in theatrical productions.


  1. "Actor world pays homage at bier of Joseph Kaufman". The Washington Times. D.C., Washington. February 8, 1918. p. 12. Retrieved November 1, 2021 via
  2. 1 2 3 Lowrey, Carolyn (1920). The First One Hundred Noted Men and Women of the Screen. Moffat, Yard. p. 34. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  3. "Ethel Clayton". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on May 25, 2018. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  4. The New York Times, "Sues For 316 Pearls", March 26, 1931, Page 56.
  5. "$125 for $20,000". Norwich Sun NY, Apr 11. 1931. p. 4.
  6. "Ethel Clayton Obituary (date of first marriage)". Lowell Sun, June 12. 1966. p. 8.
  7. "Ethel Clayton acted with Joseph Kaufman in The Great Divide". Corsicana Daily Sun, Texas, Nov 1. 1916. p. 8.
  8. "Joseph Kaufman obit". The Washington Times. February 8, 1918. p. 12. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  9. "Ethel Clayton Divorces". Joplin News Herald, August 20. 1931.
  10. "The life of Ethel Clayton". Oxnard Press Courier, Mar 4. 1966.
  11. "Ethel Clayton Obituary". Oxnard Press Courier, June 12. 1966.
  12. "Ethel Clayton". Hollywood Walk of Fame. October 25, 2019. Archived from the original on August 14, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  13. Clayton, Ethel (1920), Young Mrs. Winthrop , retrieved October 17, 2020

Ziegfeld girl