She made her stage debut in 1906 and in 1908 she joined the Ziegfeld Follies. Seven years later, she became a headliner of the Follies instead of just a chorus girl.
She appeared on the film screen the first time in 1916. Her career began to rise although some film critics weren't thrilled with a lot of her performances. They got a little tired of seeing her in lavish costumes and "over acting." (Sometimes it can be a little over the top, but hey, she was good at it)
Another low point was when Mae's husband at the time told her she should leave MGM, which had been her home studio for years. She followed his "advice" and turned her back on her contract and MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who was very unhappy (well, he was pissed). As a result, Mayer used his powers around Hollywood and had her blacklisted from all the other studios.
Mae didn't make any more movies after 1931. In the 1940s, she went back to her roots and appeared on stage in a variety of shows. She continued to wear her well known lavish gowns and heavy make up. She didn't give a damn what the critics said. She knew she was fabulous!
Mae Murray passed away on March 23, 1965 at the Motion Pictures Home.
Mae was probably more famous for her personal life than she was for her film career. She played pretty much the same roles on screen but had a lot of different men. She was married four times. Her first marriage was to a stockbroker named William Schwenker Jr. They were only married from 1908 to 1909. Her second marriage was to a bobsledder named Jay O'Brien in 1916. They too were only married for a year. Her third marriage was to director Robert Leonard in 1918. They divorced in 1925. Her fourth and final marriage was also her most famous. She married "prince" David Mdivani in 1926. He was the one behind Mae's leaving MGM. The couple had a son named Koran David Mdivani. After the couple divorced, a custody fight began over Koran. Mae won the fight and Mdivani was ordered to pay child support. Eventually Mae handed over custody of her son to nurse/friend Sara "Bess" Cunning. Bess had custody of Koran earlier when he was recovery from an operation. She eventually adopted him and changed his name to Daniel Michael Cunning.
Mae used to write a weekly column for one of William Randolph Heart's newspapers.
She was known as "The Girl with the Bee Stung Lips"
Rudolph Valentino was the best man at her wedding to David Mdivani. Pola Negri, who was married briefly to Mdivani's brother Serge, was the maid of honor.
It has been rumored that Mae was the inspiration behind Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.
It really seems that Louis B. Mayer destructed many careers... he did the same thing with John Gilbert. Thanks for this article about Mae Murray. It's always a pleasure to read you ! MichelReplyDelete
He certainly was NOT the man to cross!ReplyDelete
I am writing a biography of Mae Murray for the University of Kentucky Press. She has been loads of fun to research. Her family has been quite helpful in answering questions and providing information.ReplyDelete
If any of you know someone who might have known Mae in later years, please ask them to get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks! I love this site!
I look forward to reading your Mae biography Michael!ReplyDelete
Who in her family is still around?
Also, it means a ton to hear you say you love my site/blog. Thank YOU for reading it!! :)ReplyDelete
I loved Mae. She had bee-stung lips. It’s unfortunate she ended up the way she did. Thanks for remembering herReplyDelete
Thank you Billy for stopping by!ReplyDelete
Have you seen the Kodak color video of her? It is amazing!
where is the video? thanksReplyDelete
I will post it...whenever lolReplyDelete
BUT, if you go to Youtube and type in "color kodak test" it is the first video that pops up. Mae, Hope Hampton, and Mary Eaton are in it too!
DEAR JESSICA HELLO IT IS EUGENE.LOVED THE ESSAY ON MAE!I WANT TO READ THE BIOGRAPHY TOO THAT IS COMING OUT.I ONLY SAW MAE IN"SHOW PEOPLE" BUT I DO WANT TO SEE MORE OF HER MOVIES.SHE WAS A FASCINATING LADY!THEY SHOULD MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT HER LIFE.ReplyDelete