Maxine Elliott

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Maxine Elliott
Maxine Elliott, 1905.jpg
Maxine Elliott, circa 1905, by Burr McIntosh
Jessie Dermott

(1868-02-05)February 5, 1868
DiedMarch 5, 1940(1940-03-05) (aged 72)
Cannes, France
  • Film and stage actress
  • Businesswoman
Relatives Gertrude Elliott (sister)
Signature of Maxine Elliott.png

Maxine Elliott (February 5, 1868 – March 5, 1940) was an American actress and businesswoman.


Early life

Born Jessie Dermott on February 5, 1868, to Thomas Dermott, a sea captain and Adelaide Hill Dermott, [1] she had a younger sister, actress Gertrude Elliot and at least two brothers, one of whom, a sailor, was lost at sea in the Indian Ocean.[ when? ] [2]

By age 15 in 1883, Jessie had been seduced and made pregnant by a 25-year-old man whom she may have married underage, according to her niece's biography. She miscarried or lost the baby. This incident left a psychological wound on Jessie for the rest of her life.

She was selected by the Pan-American Company to represent South America on the 1901 Pan-American Exposition logo


Maxine Elliott story on the front page of September 3, 1915, The Seattle Star Maxine Elliott story on the front page of The Seattle Star - September 3 1915.jpg
Maxine Elliott story on the front page of September 3, 1915, The Seattle Star

She adopted her stage name Maxine Elliott in 1889, making her first appearance in 1890 in The Middleman. [1]

In 1895, she got her first big break when Augustin Daly hired her as a supporting actress for his star player, Ada Rehan. After divorcing her first husband, Elliott married comedian Nat C. Goodwin in 1898. The two starred together at home and abroad in such hits as Nathan Hale and The Cowboy and the Lady. [1]

For her appearance in a production of The Merchant of Venice , she negotiated a contract for $200 and one-half of the profits over $20,000. She was billed alone when Charles B. Dillingham's production of Her Own Way opened on Broadway on September 28, 1903. From then on, Elliott was a star. When the production moved to London in 1905, King Edward VII asked that she be presented to him, and they were rumoured to have had an intimate relationship. [3]

Goodwin eventually divorced Elliott in 1908. Around this time she became friendly with financier J. P. Morgan. Some biographers of Morgan claim the seventy-year-old Morgan had a sexual relationship with Elliott but no evidence substantiates these rumours. Assuredly Morgan gave her financial advice of all sorts and she became a rich woman because of this advice. Shortly after divorcing Goodwin, she returned to New York City and in 1908 opened her own theater, The Maxine Elliott , located on Thirty-Ninth Street near Broadway. [4]

She was both owner and manager, and, at the time, the only woman in the United States running her own theater. Her first production was The Chaperon. She experimented with acting in silent films in 1913. In that year, she was in Slim Driscoll, Samaritan, When the West Was Young and A Doll for the Baby, but she soon returned to Britain. In 1913, she started dating tennis star Anthony Wilding, who was over 15 years her junior, with The Seattle Star calling him her lover. [5]

According to The Seattle Star she had planned to marry Wilding, but he was killed on May 9, 1915, at the Battle of Aubers Ridge. [5] After his death she reportedly became obsessed with the war and Elliott moved to Belgium and volunteered both her income and her time to the cause of Belgian relief, for which she received the Order of the Crown (Belgium). [5]

In 1917, Elliott returned to the U.S. and signed with newly formed Goldwyn Pictures to make Fighting Odds and The Eternal Magdalene. The odds are against Elliott's films surviving the decades, but evidence points to Fighting Odds surviving in Russia's Gosfilmofond. Elliott can be seen visiting Charlie Chaplin's studios in 1918 and cavorting with him and her entourage before Chaplin's cameras. Her visit to Chaplin survives and usually ends up in omnibus videos on Chaplin.[ citation needed ]

Elliott's last stage appearance was in 1920 in Trimmed in Scarlett, aged 52. She then retired from acting, announcing that she "wished to grow middle-aged gracefully". [6] As regards her performances, reviewers disagreed "over whether it was her beauty or her acting ability that attracted attention". [2]


Successful in business and investment, Elliott had homes in America, England, and in France. A photograph of Winston Churchill (accompanied by his wife, Clementine) working on an oil painting in the grounds of one of her houses, Hartsbourne Manor [7] [A 1] , in England, appears in Andrew Roberts' Churchill: Walking with Destiny. [8] Elliott's sister Gertrude Elliot with her husband Johnston Forbes-Robertson and their children Maxine "Blossom" Miles, Jean, Chloe and Diana lived in a wing of Hartsbourne Manor. [9] In 1932, she built le Château de l'Horizon near Juan-les-Pins. There she entertained guests that included Churchill, Lloyd George and Vincent Sheean. [10] In her old age, the diarist "Chips" Channon described her as "an immense bulk of a woman with dark eyes, probably the most amazing eyes one has ever seen", "lovable, fat, oh so fat, witty and gracious"; he recorded having watched her eat "pat after pat of butter without any bread". [11] Elliott died on March 5, 1940, in Cannes, France, a wealthy woman, at the age of 72. [2]

She was interred at Protestant Cemetery in Cannes. She was the subject of a biography titled My Aunt Maxine: The Story of Maxine Elliot c.1964, written by her niece, Diana Forbes-Robertson. [2]


1913From Dusk to Dawn
1917 Fighting Odds Mrs. Copley
1919The Eternal MagdaleneThe Eternal Magdalene(final film role)



  1. Location: (51°37'45.98"N 0°21'1.41"W) [7]
  1. 1 2 3 The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. XIV. James T. White & Company. 1910. pp. 87–88. Retrieved December 14, 2020 via Google Books.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Forbes-Robertson 1964, pp. 277–278.
  3. Lusher 2018.
  4. Lovell 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 The Seattle Star, September 3, 1915, p. 1.
  6. Block 1968, p. 278.
  7. 1 2 Hartsbourne Country Club 2020.
  8. Roberts 2018, pp. lxxxiii, lxxviii, cxii, lcxxxii lxxxii.
  9. TIMES, Special Cable to THE NEW YORK (August 22, 1909). "KING EDWARD SMILES ON MAXINE ELLIOTT; American Actress Admitted to the Circle of His Friends at Marienbad. PRAISED IN ENGLISH PRESS Miss Elliott Called "Handsomest Woman of Her Generation" -King Annoyed by Public Attention". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  10. Shakespeare 2016.
  11. Bertie- A Life of Edward VII, Jane Ridley, Chatto & Windus, 2012, p. 438


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