Marguerite Clark

Last updated

Marguerite Clark
Clark's favorite photograph of herself, 1917
Helen Marguerite Clark

(1883-02-22)February 22, 1883
DiedSeptember 25, 1940(1940-09-25) (aged 57)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting place Metairie Cemetery
Other namesMarguerite Clarke [1]
Years active19001921
(m. 1918;died 1936)

Helen Marguerite Clark (February 22, 1883 September 25, 1940) was an American stage and silent film actress. As a movie actress, at one time, Clark was second only to Mary Pickford in popularity. [2] All but five of her films are considered lost.


Early life and theatre

Hand-tinted postcard of Clark in the play Happyland Actress Marguerite Clark.jpg
Hand-tinted postcard of Clark in the play Happyland
Clark in 1912, the year she starred in two Broadway plays: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Affairs of Anatol Marguerite-Clark-1913.jpg
Clark in 1912, the year she starred in two Broadway plays: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Affairs of Anatol

Born in Avondale, Cincinnati, Ohio on February 22, 1883, she was the third child of Augustus "Gus" James and Helen Elizabeth Clark. She had an older sister, Cora, and an older brother named Clifton. Clark's mother Helen died on January 21, 1893. Her father worked in his self-owned successful haberdashery located in downtown Cincinnati before his death on December 29, 1896. Following his death, Clark's sister Cora was appointed her legal guardian and removed her from public school to further her education at Ursuline Academy. [3]

She finished school at age 16, decided to pursue a career in the theatre and soon made her Broadway debut in 1900. The 17-year-old performed at various venues. In 1903, she was seen on Broadway opposite hulking comedian DeWolf Hopper in Mr. Pickwick. The 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) Hopper dwarfed the nearly 5-foot-tall (1.5 m) Clark in their scenes together. Several adventure-fantasy roles followed. In 1909, Clark starred in the whimsical costume play The Beauty Spot , establishing the fantasy stories which would soon become her hallmark. [4] In 1910, Clark appeared in The Wishing Ring, a play directed by Cecil DeMille which was later made into a motion picture by Maurice Tourneur. That same 1910 season had Clark appearing in Baby Mine , a popular play produced by William A. Brady.

In 1912, Clark performed in a lead role with John Barrymore, Doris Keane and Gail Kane in the play The Affairs of Anatol , later made into a motion picture by Clark's future movie studio Famous Players-Lasky and directed by Cecil DeMille. That same year, she starred in a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs . [5] The classic tale was adapted for the stage by Winthrop Ames (writing under the pseudonym Jessie Braham White), who closely oversaw its production at his Little Theatre in New York and personally selected the lead actress. [5] Clark expressed her delight in the role, and the play had a successful run into 1913. [5] Clark's popularity led to her signing a contract in 1914 to make motion pictures with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company, and over the next two years she was cast in starring roles in more than a dozen features. [5] She then reprised her stage role in a film that would define the Clark persona—the influential 1916 screen version of Snow White .

Film career

Snow White , full 63 minute 1916 film starring Clark
Advertisement for Wildflower in Moving Picture World (1918) Wildflower 1914.jpg
Advertisement for Wildflower in Moving Picture World (1918)
Silks and Satins (1916) Silks and Satin.jpg
Silks and Satins (1916)
Marguerite Clark by Harrison Fisher, a red conte crayon drawing done for the March 24, 1918 edition of American Weekly Margurite Clark 1918 by Harrison Fisher.jpg
Marguerite Clark by Harrison Fisher, a red conte crayon drawing done for the March 24, 1918 edition of American Weekly

At age 31, it was relatively late in life for a film actress to begin a career with starring roles, but the diminutive Clark had a little-girl look, like Mary Pickford, that belied her years. Also, film was not developed or mature enough to showcase Clark at her youthful best at the turn of the century. These were some of the reasons established Broadway stars refused early film offers. Feature films were unheard of when Clark was in her early 20s. She made her first appearance on screen in the short film Wildflower , directed by Allan Dwan. [6]

Clark in Molly Make-Believe (1916) Marguerite Clark in "Molly Make-Believe" (1916).png
Clark in Molly Make-Believe (1916)

In 1915, Clark starred as "Gretchen" in a feature-length production of The Goose Girl based on a 1909 best-selling novel by Harold MacGrath. She performed in the feature-length production The Seven Sisters (1915), directed by Sidney Olcott, and she reprised a Broadway role, starring in the first feature-length film version of Snow White (1916).

Clark was directed in this by J. Searle Dawley, as well as in a number of films, notably when she played the characters of both "Little Eva St. Clair" and "Topsy" in the feature Uncle Tom's Cabin (1918). [6]

Promotion in Moving Picture World, 1919 Marguerite Clark in Come Out Of The Kitchen.jpg
Promotion in Moving Picture World, 1919

Clark starred in Come Out of the Kitchen (1919), which was filmed in Pass Christian, Mississippi, at Ossian Hall. The same year, she enrolled as a yeowoman in the naval reserves. Clark made all but one of her 40 films with Famous Players-Lasky, her last with them in 1920 titled Easy to Get, in which she starred opposite silent film actor Harrison Ford. Her next film, in 1921, was made by her own production company for First National Pictures distribution. As one of the most popular actresses going into the 1920s, and one of the industry's best paid, her name alone was enough to ensure reasonable box office success. As such, Scrambled Wives was made under her direction, following which she retired at age 38 to be with her husband at their country estate in New Orleans. [6]

Clark and Williams' former mansion on St. Charles Avenue in Uptown New Orleans now houses the Latter branch of the New Orleans Public Library LatterLibraryToCarriageEntrance.jpg
Clark and Williams' former mansion on St. Charles Avenue in Uptown New Orleans now houses the Latter branch of the New Orleans Public Library

Personal life

On August 15, 1918, Clark married New Orleans, Louisiana, plantation owner and millionaire businessman Harry Palmerston Williams, [7] a marriage that ended with the death of Williams on May 19, 1936 in an aircraft crash. [8] After his death, Clark owned Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation, which had built and flown air racers, along with other aviation enterprises, until sold in 1937.


After the death of her husband, Clark moved to New York City where she lived with her sister Cora. On September 20, 1940, she entered LeRoy Sanitarium where she died five days later of pneumonia. [9] A private funeral was held at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel on September 28. [10] She was cremated and buried with her husband in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans. [11]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Marguerite Clark has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6304 Hollywood Boulevard. [12]

Broadway credits

September 24 November 10, 1900The Belle of BohemiaRosie Mulberry
October 7 November 30, 1901The New YorkersMary Lamb
May 5 August 30, 1902The Wild RoseLieutenant Gaston Gardennes
January 19 May 1903Mr. PickwickPolly
June 22 July 18, 1903George W. Lederer's Mid-Summer Night FanciesDorothy
October 2, 1905 June 2, 1906HappylandSylvia
December 3, 1908 January 16, 1909The Pied PiperElviria
April 10 August 7, 1909 The Beauty Spot Nadine, General Samovar's daughter
January 10 January 22, 1910The King of CadoniaPrincess Marie
January 20, 1910 Closing date unknownThe Wishing Ring
May 10 June 1910Jim the Penman
August 23, 1910 Closing date unknown Baby Mine Zoie Hardy
October 14 December 1912The Affairs of AnatolHilda
November 7, 1912 Closing date unknown Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Snow White
May 1 May 1913Are You a Crook?Amy Herrick
October 27, 1913 Closing date unknownPrunellaPrunella


1914 Wildflower Letty RobertsLost film
1914 The Crucible JeanLost film
1915 The Goose Girl Anita AlvarezLost film
1915 Gretna Green Dolly ErskineLost film
1915 The Pretty Sister of Jose PepitaLost film
1915 The Seven Sisters MiciLost film
1915 Heléne of the North Heléne DearingLost film
1915 Still Waters NestaLost film
1915 The Prince & the Pauper Prince Edward/Tom CantyLost film
1916 Mice and Men PeggyLost film
1916 Out of the Drifts EliseLost film
1916 Molly Make-Believe MollyLost film
1916 Silks and Satins Felicite
1916 Little Lady Eileen Eileen KavanaughLost film
1916 Miss George Washington Bernice SomersLost film
1916 Snow White Snow White
1917 The Fortunes of Fifi FifiLost film
1917 The Valentine Girl Marion MorganLost film
1917 The Amazons Lord TommyLost film
1917 Bab's Diary Bab ArchibaldLost film
1917 Bab's Burglar Bab ArchibaldLost film
1917 Bab's Matinee Idol Bab ArchibaldLost film
1917 The Seven Swans Princess TweedledeeLost film
1918 Rich Man, Poor Man Betty WynneLost film
1918 Prunella Prunellaincomplete film
1918 Uncle Tom's Cabin Little Eva St. Clair/TopsyLost film
1918 Out of a Clear Sky Countess Celeste de Bersek et KrymmLost film
1918The Biggest and the Littlest Lady in the WorldThe Little LadyLost film; a short about war bonds
1918 Little Miss Hoover Ann Craddock
1919 Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch Lovey Mary
1919 Three Men and a Girl Sylvia WestonLost film
1919 Let's Elope Eloise FarringtonLost film
1919 Come Out of the Kitchen Claudia DaingerfieldLost film
1919 Girls Pamela GordonLost film
1919 Widow by Proxy Gloria GreyLost film
1919 Luck in Pawn Annabel Lee
1919 A Girl Named Mary Mary HealeyLost film
1920 All of a Sudden Peggy Peggy O'HaraLost film
1920 Easy to Get Molly MorehouseLost film
1921 Scrambled Wives Miss Mary Lucille SmithLost film

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary Pickford</span> Canadian-American actress (1892–1979)

Gladys Marie Smith, known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American stage and screen actress and producer with a career that spanned five decades. A pioneer in the US film industry, she co-founded Pickford–Fairbanks Studios and United Artists, and was one of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Pickford is considered to be one of the most recognisable women in history.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Betty Compson</span> American actress (1897–1974)

Betty Compson was an American actress and film producer who got her start during Hollywood's silent era. She is best known for her performances in The Docks of New York and The Barker, the latter of which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

1917 in film was a particularly fruitful year for the art form, and is often cited as one of the years in the decade which contributed to the medium the most, along with 1913. Secondarily the year saw a limited global embrace of narrative film-making and featured innovative techniques such as continuity cutting. Primarily, the year is an American landmark, as 1917 is the first year where the narrative and visual style is typified as "Classical Hollywood".

The year 1916 in film involved some significant events.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jack Pickford</span> Canadian-American actor (1896–1933)

John Charles Smith, known professionally as Jack Pickford, was a Canadian-American actor, film director and producer. He was the younger brother of actresses Mary and Lottie Pickford.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billie Burke</span> American stage and film actress (1884–1970)

Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke was an American actress who was famous on Broadway and radio, and in silent and sound films. She is best known to modern audiences as Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie musical The Wizard of Oz (1939).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Estelle Taylor</span> American actress, singer, and animal rights activist (1894–1958)

Ida Estelle Taylor was an American actress, singer, model, and animal rights activist. With "dark-brown, almost black hair and brown eyes," she was regarded as one of the most beautiful silent film stars of the 1920s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">King Baggot</span> American actor and director (1879–1948)

William King Baggot was an American actor, film director and screenwriter. He was an internationally famous movie star of the silent film era. The first individually publicized leading man in America, Baggot was referred to as "King of the Movies," "The Most Photographed Man in the World" and "The Man Whose Face Is As Familiar As The Man In The Moon."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laurette Taylor</span> American actress

Laurette Taylor was an American stage and silent film star who is particularly well known for originating the role of Amanda Wingfield in the first production of Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blanche Sweet</span> American actress

Sarah Blanche Sweet was an American silent film actress who began her career in the early days of the motion picture film industry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Louise Huff</span> American actress

Louise Huff was an American actress of the silent film era.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vola Vale</span> American actress

Vola Vale was a silent film actress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marguerite Snow</span> American actress

Marguerite Snow was an American silent film and stage actress. In her early films she was billed as Margaret Snow.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ann Pennington (actress)</span> American actress, dancer, and singer (1893–1971)

Anna Pennington was an American actress, dancer, and singer who starred on Broadway in the 1910s and 1920s, notably in the Ziegfeld Follies and George White's Scandals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rita Jolivet</span> American–British actress

Marguerite Lucile Jolivet, known professionally as Rita Jolivet, was a British actress in theatre and silent films in the early 20th century. She was known in private life as the Countess Marguerita de Cippico.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary Pickford filmography</span>

Mary Pickford (1892–1979) was a Canadian-American motion picture actress, producer, and writer. During the silent film era she became one of the first great celebrities of the cinema and a popular icon known to the public as "America's Sweetheart".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Betty Ross Clarke</span> American actress

Betty Ross Clarke was an American stage and film actress. She appeared in more than 30 films between 1920 and 1940, including silent and sound films, in both credited and uncredited roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gladys Leslie</span> American actress

Gladys Leslie Moore was an American actress in silent film, active in the 1910s and 1920s. Though less-remembered than superstars like Mary Pickford, she had a number of starring roles from 1917 to the early 1920s and was one of the young female stars of her day.

<i>Uncle Toms Cabin</i> (1918 film) 1918 American film

Uncle Tom's Cabin was a 1918 American silent drama film directed by J. Searle Dawley, produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation and distributed by Paramount Pictures under the Famous Players-Lasky name. The film is based on Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin and George Aiken's eponymous play.

<i>Come Out of the Kitchen</i> 1919 lost silent film directed by John S. Robertson

Come Out of the Kitchen is a lost 1919 American silent film produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by John S. Robertson and starred Marguerite Clark. The film is based on Alice Duer Miller's 1916 Broadway play of the same name that starred Ruth Chatterton.



  1. "Marguerite Clarke In Play: Appears in 'The Wishing Ring'", The New York Times (Manhattan), October 20, 1909, p. 18. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
  2. "Foreign news: 'Tough for Has'-beens'." Variety, June 8, 1927, p. 2.
  3. Nunn 1981, pp. 3–4.
  4. Blum 1988, p. 109.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Kaufman, J. B. (2019). "Snow White". San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  6. 1 2 3 Ballard. Mike. "Marguerite Clark, Film Fantasy Queen." greatlivesinhistory, February 22, 2010. Retrieved: January 9, 2012.
  7. "Noted actress taken by death." The Spokesman-Review, September 26, 1940, p. 3. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
  8. "Marguerite Clark, ex-actress, dies." The New York Times, September 26, 1940, p. 21. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
  9. "Marguerite Clark, ex-actress, dies." The Milwaukee Journal, September 25, 1940, p. 10. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
  10. "Marguerite Clark honored at funeral; Associates pay tribute to the former actress at rites here." The New York Times, September 29, 1940.
  11. "Star of silent films given simple funeral." The Palm Beach Post, September 29, 1940, p. 12. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
  12. "Hollywood Star Walk: Marguerite Clark." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.


  • Blum, Daniel. Pictorial History of the American Theater. New York: Random House Value Publishing, First edition 1950. ISBN   0-517-53022-8.
  • Nunn, Curtis. Marguerite Clark: America's Darling of Broadway and the Silent Screen. Fort Worth, Texas: The Texas Christian University Press, 1981. ISBN   0-912646-69-1.

Further reading