Art is going to be our first stop in remembering the actors and actresses who never made it to the talkies. Now, Art is an actor I had heard about before, but I never knew about his personal life and what happened to him until I read up about him recently. Sad ending to a wonderful and talented man.
Art Acord was born Arthemus Ward Acord (like that?) on April 17, 1890 in Glenwood, Utah. Finding information about his background was a pain, but I did manage to find out that his father, Valentine, was a farmer, and his mother, Mary, took care of Art and his four sisters Eliza, Zurr, Dora, and Adelia.
At a young age Art became very intrigued by the outdoors and especially horses. His family moved to Oklahoma when he was still a child and it was here that he began working as a ranch hand.
In 1912 and 1916 he won a world championship rodeo event, and in the 1916 competition, he beat his friend and fellow Western screen actor, Hoot Gibson. Art would also become friends with Tom Mix and Broncho Billy Anderson through a Wild West show he joined and traveled with.
Art's first few screen appearances were as a stuntman, as well as some uncredited roles. His first credited role was in the 1910 short film, The Sergeant.
Not surprising that most of his film roles were of a cowboy, but some of my favorite character names he portrayed include: 'Hairtrigger Jordan,' 'The Mysterious Spaniard,' 'Bullets Bernard,' and 'Two-Gun O'Brien.' Kinda like the flapper edition of western names. And unfortunately like so many silent film stars, many of his films are considered lost.
Art took a brief 'break' from films to serve in the army during WWI, and when he came back he appeared in a serial produced by Universal Pictures. Sadly, this was the beginning of the end for his film career. He had begun to drink heavily and that coupled with the coming of talkies and the audiences' tastes changing lead to a career decline and eventual end in 1929.
The same year he retired from films was also the year when he was arrested for robbery and liquor possession. The charges were eventually dropped, but the damage was already done to his character, so he decided to move to Mexico to appear in rodeo shows.
Art Acord passed away on January 4, 1931 in Chihuahua, Mexico. He allegedly ingested poison after being depressed for some time (He reportedly told this to a doctor at the hospital. I am not sure how he ended up at the hospital though).
He was buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale. He received a full military funeral.
Of course there has to be some scandal and drama surrounding his death. Although he had been depressed and relying on alcohol for years before his death, some of his friends couldn't believe that Art would have killed himself. Some of them claimed that he was killed by a powerful Mexican politician because Art was sleeping with his wife. So...yeah...
Art was married three times. His first wife was an actress named Edythe Sterling, who he married in 1913. Edythe was a member of (but didn't perform with) the famous vaudeville family "The Five Sedgwicks" which included her parents, Edward and Josephine, her twin sisters, Eileen and Josie, and her brother, Edward Jr. Art had met Edythe when both were traveling with the vaudeville circuit. The couple divorced in 1916.
Four years later, he married another actress, Edna May Nores. Four years after that, Edna filed for divorce claiming that Art abused her and cheated on her with actress Louise Lorraine. Art eventually married his mistress Louise in 1926, but two years later she filed for divorce, also citing that he abused her.
In May of 1928, Art was injured when a gas heater exploded in his home. He received some pretty bad burns, but other than that he was alright.
He was nicknamed the "Mormon Cowboy" and the "Fair-Haired Boy of Filmland."
"His [Art Acord] requiem today is sung in tales of a generous hand, a full pocket, a careless heart while the fun lasted. Many pass from the Earth without writing such an epitaph." ~~ The Spokesman-Review - January 6, 1931