"silent movies" "silent
film" "silent era"
Born July 14, 1899, in Mansfield, OH. Martha Mansfield's
real name was Martha Ehrlich, but she took her new stage name
from her hometown. Although little is known about her childhood,
it is known that by 1912 she was living in New York with her mother.
In 1912, she was working on Broadway for producer William Brady
and also worked as an artist's and photographer's model. When
an actress friend of hers was unable to take a part in Max Linder's
films, she recommended Martha who, as Martha Early, signed on
in 1917 with Essanay for three films with the comedian. Martha
did not give up her stage work, though, and in 1918 joined the
Ziegfeld Follies. She also made films whenever possible and was
appearing on stage in "Midnight Frolic" when she was
cast to co-star with John Barrymore in "Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1920). After one more Paramount
feature, "Civilian Clothes" (1920) with Thomas Meighan,
she was signed by Lewis J. Selznick. Selznick failed to explore
Martha's talents and loaned her out to such companies as Arrow,
Lee-Bradford, Hodkinson and others. Finally, in 1923, Fox signed
her to a long-term contract, and her career was looking bright.
The next year, she was given the female lead in "The Warrens
of Virginia" (1924), a Civil War movie. Dressed in a huge
hoop skirt of the period, she was sitting in a car on the set
when someone carelessly tossed a match in her direction. The costume
caught fire, and she died from her injuries the next day, November
Selected films of this star available for viewing:
and Mr. Hyde (1920)
Is Money Everything? (1923)
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