Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dorothy Mackaill

Dorothy Mackaill is an interesting one to me because she seems to fly under the radar of the big stars of the silent screen. However, looking at her pictures, she seems to be on a totally different level with her beauty. She had a classic look to her with just a touch of modern and that makes for a perfect look for a flapper!

I also have so many options on who to cover next. Is there anyone I haven't covered that you would like to know more about? Let me know in the comments below!

Dorothy Mackaill was born March 4, 1903 in Hull, Yorkshire, England. She was the only child born to Florence Wise and her husband, Mr. Mackaill. I honestly couldn't find a first name for him anywhere. He is just referred to as Mr. Mackaill. 

When Dorothy was eleven her parents separated. Dorothy lived with her father, but it wasn't exactly an idyllic situation. Mr. Mackaill seemed to have a Mrs. Doubtfire fetish because he employed one housekeeper after the other. He eventually married the NINTH housekeeper he hired, which upset Dorothy so much that she ran away to London. Florence Wise Mackaill was a big fan of the theater and had instilled this love in her daughter, so Dorothy wanted to head to the big city to become an actress. 

Like most people who run away with show business aspirations, Dorothy didn't achieve the big time right away. Instead, she found small spots in various shows to help scratch her acting bug itch. Showgirl numbers and sporadic extra parts isn't enough to support oneself, so Dorothy contacted her father asking for financial help. Mr. Mackaill was not thrilled about his daughter entering show business and at first would not help her. Once he saw how determined she was to succeed as a performer, however, he relented and agreed to pay for her room and board as well as acting lessons. Thanks, dad!

While performing in a Paris show, Dorothy was spotted by Broadway choreographer, Ned Wayburn. Wayburn told her that he could get her a gig as a Ziegfeld Follies girl, but he just needed to run it by Flo Ziegfeld first.

Now, I am not sure if it was because she was from England or because she was so naive, but Dorothy had never heard of this Flo Ziegfeld whose show she was going to be in. Her mother's name was Florence, but she was nicknamed 'Flo,' so she just assumed that this Flo Ziegfeld was a woman. She got quite a surprise when it was a man with who she met with.

Dorothy was advertised by Ziegfeld as being the picture perfect example of the All-American girl. That's all fine and dandy until you remember that Dorothy was in fact born in England. Oh well! I don't think the public cared one bit! Bring on the girls!

In 1920, she made her film debut in The Face in the Window, starring C. Aubrey Smith. The work proceeding this film consisted of shorts and uncredited roles and it wasn't until 1922 that she made her full length film debut in Isle of Doubt. 

Dorothy's star power was apparent to those in Hollywood because she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1924 along with Clara Bow, Blanche Mehaffey, and Lucille Ricksen, to name a few. 

The mid-1920's seems to have been the start of Dorothy's rise to stardom. She was the leading actress in many films during this period including: Joanna (1925, with Jack Mulhall), Chickie (1925, with John Bowers and Hobart Bosworth), Subway Sadie (1926, with Jack Mulhall), and Just Another Blonde (1926, again, with Jack Mulhall and Louise Brooks).

In 1928, she was making a film called The Barker. The film was originally shot as a silent, but right around that time the whispers for talking pictures became louder and louder. So, the film was re-shot to include talking portions and it ended up being a great success. 

Dorothy continued to appear in starring film roles, but they were mostly B-films, save for an appearance in the 1932 Gable/Lombard film, No Man of Her Own. She also co-starred with a young actor named Humphrey Bogart in HIS first starring role in 1932's Love Affair

In 1937, she made her final screen appearance in Bulldog Drummond at Bay. After retiring from films, Dorothy spent most of her time caring for her invalid mother. She would later tell an interviewer that all of her professional achievements were done in order to win her mother's approval. Mother and daughter lived together until Florence died in 1956. I hope Dorothy felt her approval. 

She may have stayed off the movie screen, but she did appear on the television screen some 30 years after her final film. Her friend, actor Jack Lord, asked Dorothy to come out of retirement and appear on his hit t.v. show, Hawaii Five-O. Dorothy agreed to her friend's request and appeared in two episodes, one in 1976 and one in 1980. 

Dorothy passed away on August 12, 1990 in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

She was cremated and her ashes were spread off the coast of Waikiki. 

Dorothy was married three times. Her first husband was actor Lothar Mendes, who she met on the set of the 1926 film, Prince of Tempters. The couple married that same year and ended up divorcing just two years later. Her second marriage was to a singer named Neil Albert. They married in 1931, but would divorce three years later. Her final marriage was to an orchid grower named Harold Patterson, but it only lasted one year (1947-48). None of her marriages produced children.

While working as a Follies girl, she became friends with two of her fellow dancers, Marion Davies and Nita Naldi (who may have been appearing under her real name of Dooley). The three remained friends after the Follies and while they all had their time as stars of the silent screens. In fact, it was due to her friendship with Davies that Dorothy always had a high social standing in Hollywood, even when she was still working in small parts. She was a frequent guest at San Simeon, the giant estate owned by Davies's lover, William Randolph Hearst. 

"Dorothy is going right ahead and proving that all the extravagant things said about her screen presence and her acting ability are the truth...the whole truth...and nothing but the truth. She is, without any doubt, one of the most interesting personalities that has come to the screen in many a month." -- Motion Picture Magazine, May 1924

"Dorothy Mackaill, after only a few leading roles is already a firmly established favorite." -- Picture-Play Magazine, May 1924

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