Ethel Clayton

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Ethel Clayton
Clayton in 1910
Born(1882-11-08)November 8, 1882
DiedJune 6, 1966(1966-06-06) (aged 83)
Years active1909–1948
Spouse(s) 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 The 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

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  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. Archived from the original on August 14, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  13. Clayton, Ethel (1920), Young Mrs. Winthrop , retrieved October 17, 2020