Florence Deshon

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Florence Deshon
Duds (1920) - 3.jpg
Deshon in 1920
Florence Danks

(1893-07-19)July 19, 1893
DiedFebruary 4, 1922(1922-02-04) (aged 28)
Cause of death Inert gas asphyxiation
Other namesFlorence Deschon

Florence Deshon (born Florence Danks; July 19, 1893 February 4, 1922) was an American motion picture actress in silent films. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Deshon began her film career in 1915, appearing in The Beloved Vagabond , and would later star in numerous pictures for Samuel Goldwyn and Vitagraph Studios between 1918 and 1921. She was romantically involved with writer Max Eastman and actor Charlie Chaplin. Deshon died of gas asphyxiation in her New York City apartment.


Early life

Florence Deshon was born Florence Danks in Tacoma, Washington, to Samuel Danks, a musician and union organizer from Wales, and Flora Caroline Spatzer, a pianist of Austro-Hungarian descent. [1] [2] She lived in Washington with her parents and older brother, Walter, until the family moved to New York City around 1900, as her parents pursued musical careers.

In 1913, she became acquainted with writer Max Eastman in Greenwich Village, and the two became romantically involved. [3]


Deshon appeared in more than twenty silent films, beginning in 1915 with The Beloved Vagabond . In 1919, while living in New York, she was summoned by Samuel Goldwyn to Los Angeles, California, and offered her work in his studio. [4]

Deshon played in features for Vitagraph Studios until 1921. Her final film credit was in the role of Sally McTurk in The Roof Tree, directed by John Francis Dillon. She returned to New York City with her mother in December 1921, hoping to continue her work in films there. [5]

Margrethe Mather, Florence Deshon, 1921, bromide print. J. Paul Getty Museum FlorenceDeshon.jpg
Margrethe Mather, Florence Deshon, 1921, bromide print. J. Paul Getty Museum

Personal life

In addition to her relationship with Eastman, Deshon had a purported romantic relationship with Charlie Chaplin while living in Los Angeles and purportedly "commuted from coast to coast" between the two men. [7]


On February 4, 1922, Deshon was found unconscious on the third floor of her apartment building at 120 West Eleventh Street. A window was open in her bedroom, but illuminating gas flowed from an opened jet. A newspaperwoman, Minnie Morris, found Deshon when she returned to the building. An ambulance took Deshon to St. Vincent's Hospital, but attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. She died the following afternoon, aged 28. Deshon's apartment had been subleased from Doris Stevens, who was married to Dudley Field Malone. The couple were honeymooning in Europe at the time of the actress' death. She died five days after William Desmond Taylor, who overshadowed her.

A medical examiner concluded Deshon's death was accidental. However, rumors persisted among her circle of friends and acquaintances that she might have committed suicide, and several biographers, including Ross Wetzsteon [8] and Christoph Irmscher, [2] have described her death as such. An unsubstantiated comment from a neighbor had it that she had recently argued with a person who came to her apartment. Having recently broken off their relationship, Eastman claimed that Deshon had no reason to kill herself and that her death was accidental; he had come across her on the street on the afternoon before her death when they spoke briefly before going their separate ways. That evening, Eastman heard that she had been rushed to hospital whilst he was watching a theatre performance. He went to St. Vincent's and gave blood, but the attempt to revive Deshon was futile.


YearTitleRoleOther notesRef.
1915 The Beloved Vagabond [9]
1916 The Ruling Passion Blanche Walcott [10]
1916JafferyLiosha [11]
1917 The Judgment House Al'Mah [12]
1917 The Auction Block Lilas Lynn [11]
1917The Other ManLucia Stedman [11]
1918The Desired WomanIrene Mitchell [11]
1918A Bachelor's ChildrenMrs. Beaumont [11]
1918 Just a Woman [11]
1918 The Golden Goal Beatrice Walton [11]
1918One Thousand Dollars Lotta Lauriere [11]
1918 Love Watches Lucia de Morfontaine [11]
1918The Clutch of CircumstanceLory Williams [11]
1919 The Cambric Mask Mrs. Lanark [11]
1919 The Loves of Letty Mrs. Allardyce [11]
1920 The Cup of Fury Polly Widdicombe [11]
1920 Duds Marquise [11]
1920Dangerous DaysMarion Hayden [11]
1920 Twins of Suffering Creek Jess Jones [11]
1920 Dollars and Sense Daisy [11]
1920 Curtain Lila Grant [11]
1920 Deep Waters Kate Leroy [11]
1921The Roof TreeSally McTurk [11]

See also

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  1. Warren 2011, p. 163.
  2. 1 2 Irmscher, Christoph (2017). Max Eastman: A Life. Yale University Press. pp. 122–2. ISBN   978-0-300-22256-2.
  3. Warren 2011, pp. 163–4.
  4. Warren 2011, p. 164.
  5. IMDB entry
  6. Craig, David J. (January 23, 2004). "California pictorialists come into focus at BU Art Gallery exhibition". B.U. Bridge. Boston University . Retrieved April 21, 2022. Vol. VII, No. 17
  7. Weztsteon 2007, p. 65.
  8. Wetzsteon 2007, p. 65.
  9. Wetzsteon 2007, p. 64.
  10. "Photoplay Attractions". Indianapolis News. February 26, 1916. p. 9 via Hoosier State Chronicles. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 "Florence Deshon". American Film Institute . Catalog of Feature Films. Archived from the original on October 18, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  12. Wheeler, Edward Jewitt Wheeler; Crane, Frank, eds. (1918). "Leading Photoplays of the Month". Current Opinion . 64: 188.

Works cited

Further reading