Friday, June 7, 2013

Miss Mary Thurman

Right off the bat...Mary Thurman is NOT related to Uma Thurman.

If only we could have another famous Hollywood lineage. Alas.

Mary Thurman was born Mary Christiansen on April 27, 1895 in Richfield, Utah. She was born Christian, a farmer and his wife, Mary. All together the Christiansens had seven children, but all, save for eldest son Ernest, passed away at a young age. After Ernest was our Mary, then August (brother) who died at age seventeen, Irene (sister) at four, and Earl (brother) at three. I am not sure of the other two children's names, but I do know that the cause of death for the younger children was diphtheria. And with the patriarch dying in 1904, poor Mary Christiansen survived all but one son. 

She acted in school plays while growing up before going to the University of Utah. Before she made a career in films, Mary worked as a school teacher. While she was on vacation in California, she was spotted by Mack Sennett and he put her to work as an extra in his films.

Mary wasn't made to be just an extra though, and Sennett soon realized that. In 1915, he made her one of his Bathing Beauties.   Her first credited role was in a 1916 short called By Stork Delivery with Mack Swain. Her first full length film was 1919's The Poor Boob with Wanda Hawley and Richard Rosson.

From 1915 to 1926, she appeared in almost 60 films. Her last film was Down Upon the Suwanee River. During filming, Mary became sick and was soon diagnosed with malaria which eventually turned into pneumonia.

Mary Thurman passed away on December 22, 1925 in New York City. She was only 30 years old and had been fighting this sickness for almost a year. 

She was buried in the family plot at the Richfield City Cemetery in Richfield, Utah. 

Mary was married one time, to Victor Thurman in 1916, but they were divorced in 1919. 

Charlie Chaplin and Mary

I have read that her birth name was Von, Mavoureen, and also Mary Mavoureen. Hard to track down consistent census records.

She was best friends with silent film actress, Juanita Hansen. She accompanied Mary's body from New York to Utah and spoke during the funeral, ending with "And now I have fulfilled my mission and brought her home to you."

"She possesses that beautiful face and figure, and those perfect nether limbs, that constitute the requirements of one who poses in scanty 'bathing' costume on a sandy shore." ~~ The Pittsburgh Press - July 17, 1921

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