Saturday, March 29, 2014

Miss Alice and Miss Marceline Day

Alice and Marceline

A sister act!

Marceline Day plays the love interest to Buster Keaton in one of my all time favorite silent films, The Cameraman. I found out later that she had a sister, Alice, who was an actress as well. Although Alice didn't make quite as big of a splash as her younger sister, they are both still remembered as beautiful ingenues of the silent screen.


Alice Day was born Jacquiline Alice Newlin on November 7, 1905 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Marceline came along a few years later on April 24, 1908.


They were the daughters of Frank and Irene Newlin. Irene had run away from home at the age of sixteen and married Frank soon after. The pair eventually divorced shortly after Marceline was born.

In 1910, Irene took her two young daughters to her mother and step father's house to live. Frank Newlin may have remarried but I am not 100% sure.

Alice, being the oldest, was the first of the two girls to make an appearance on the movie screen. She was 18 years old when she was featured in the 1923 film The Temple of Venus as one of Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties.  

Alice and Marceline

The following year, Marceline made her film debut as a Bathing Beauty alongside her sister in the Harry Landon film, Picking Peaches.

As I stated earlier, Marceline seemed to make the bigger splash with studios because she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star of 1926, two years before Alice was named one. That must have hurt a bit...

Alice appeared in about 60 features, which consisted of mostly B movies and Westerns later in her career.

The film that Alice would be known for the most nowadays would be the 1929 film, Little Johnny Jones. This is an important film of note because it is one of the earliest screen adaptations of the play/movie, Yankee Doodle Dandy. Unfortunately, the film is considered lost, BUT, the soundtrack is still around an in archive at UCLA I believe.

Alice's final film appearance was in a 1932 Western called Gold which starred cowboy actor Jack Hoxie.


Alice Day passed away on May 25, 1995 in Orange, California. I do not know where she is buried, but she could have possibly been cremated like her sister was.

Marceline's most well known work was with Keaton, but she also made a splash appearing alongside such heavies as Lon Chaney (in 1927's London After Midnight) and John Barrymore (in The Beloved Rogue, also 1927). When the talkies came, she appeared with Clara Bow in her 1929 film, The Wild Party.

Although Marceline and her sister both had perfectly fine voices for the talking pictures, both of their careers went downhill as the 1930s rolled in. Marceline made her last film appearance in the 1933 Western, The Fighting Parson.


Marceline passed away on February 16, 2000 in Cathedral City, California. She was cremated and her ashes I believe were given to her family.

Marceline was married twice. First, to film producer Allen Klein and then later to a man named John Arthur in 1959. Those are pretty much all the details I have on her marriages, so, if you know any more information, please let me know! Marceline did date actor Richard Dix for a few months in 1928 and also an actor named James Murray. That second name didn't ring a bell with me, so I had to look him up and my goodness! Look him up, pretty intense. I may just have to do an entry on him.

Alice never married but she was reportedly engaged to her longtime beau, Carl Laemmle Jr. There is a great anecdote about them that I read in the November 1928 issue of Photoplay that I have to share. Apparently, the two had recently broken up and Carl was getting sweet on another actress, Sue Carol. One day at the studio, Carl  had the on set orchestra play the song "Sweet Sue" over and over again, and this was followed oh so cheekily by a request for the song "The Day is Done" (get it?) What Carl didn't know was that Alice was next door shooting her own film and she heard the entire thing. Carl got a big surprise when he turned around to see Alice standing behind him glaring at him. Love it!

Marceline and Alice as cats...of course!

The sisters appeared together another place besides the film in 1924! They were both featured in the variety show-esque film The Show of Shows. They appeared in a sequence called "Meet My Sister" which featured other famous sisters in Hollywood: Viola Dana and Shirley Mason, Sally O'Neil and Molly O'Day, Alberta and Adamae Vaugh, Helene and Dolores Costello, SallyBlane and Loretta Young, and Lola and Armida Vendrell. This sounds like something I need to get my hands on!

The girls had a very close relationship with their mother, Irene. When they moved to Hollywood, they got a three bedroom apartment so that they could all live together yet have their own space. Irene once told a story about how the girls wanted to be like the flappers they saw out on the town, smoking and drinking and having a grand old time. Irene told them, sure, you can drink, go right ahead! She poured them each a glass of red wine and told them to drink it all in big gulps and then lit a cigarette for each and told them to inhale deeply. Needless to say this demonstration had it's desired effect because while the other flappers were smoking and drinking, Alice and Marceline were chewing gum and drinking ice cream sodas.

For whatever reason, after she retired, Marceline refused to talk about her movie career and refused to grant interviews. There are a few stars who went this route and I am always curious as to why. Guess we will never know...

Alice and Marceline

"[on her daughters] When they come to me and say they'd like fur coats, I say 'Certainly, buy fur coats. Buy a lot of fur coats. You'll only pass this way once. You're making your own money. Make the most of it." ~~ Irene Newlin (Day) to Photoplay magazine, 1928


  1. Great story on these 2. I knew of Marceline but not her sister. I know of James Murray-Lead in The Crowd and he had a sad downfall. I wonder why some don't like to talk of their acting days. I think they take things too negative and don't like to think about it. If it was wonderful always, then they would have no problem talking about it...that's my take on it

    1. There must have been something negative that happened to her to make her keep silent (pun not intended, but hey). I wonder if she even talked about it with family?

  2. Hi Jessica,
    It's your little research lady,Theresa. Hope you are well. Anyway I'm just going to warned you I found a lot info ;).
    Marriages:(Colorado Statewide Marriage Index,
    A) Husband's Name : John B. Freeman
    Wife's Name: Mercy Lina Chambers
    Day of Marriage: Nov 11, 1881
    Place of Marriage : Denver, Colorado
    Notes: These are Irene's parents and Alice + Marceline's grandparents.
    B) Husband's Name: Roy Stanfield
    Wife's Name: Mercelene Freeman
    Date of Marriage:Dec 25,1906
    Place of Marriage: Colorado Springs, Co.
    Notes: This is Irene's stepfather and mother (alternative spelling) . Alice+Marceline's step-grandfather and grandma.
    C) Husband's Name: Frank Newlin
    Wife's Name: Irene M. Freeman
    Date of Marriage: May 24,1905
    Place of Marriage: Pueblo,Colo.
    Notes: Alice + Marceline's parents. Also it looks like Irene at some point got marry again (still working on finding that though.) I haven't yet follow up with Frank.
    Divorces:(Colorado Statewide Divorce Index,1900
    - 1939)
    A) Mercelena Freeman
    Jno. D Freeman
    Date of Marriage: Nov 21,1881
    Place of Marriage: Denver,Colo.
    Minors: George,Irene,Carl
    B) Marcelena Stanfield
    Roy Stanfield
    Day of Marriage: Dec 25,1906
    Place of Marriage: Colorado Springs,Colo.
    Date of Divorce: Sept 7, 1911
    C) Irene Marcelena Newlin
    Frank B. Newlin
    Day of Marriage: May 24, 1905
    Place of Marriage: Pueblo,Colo.
    Day of Divorce: May 2,1910
    Minors:Alice, Marcelena
    Whew! I'm still working on the census and the deaths. :)

    1. My goodness! Thank you Theresa! I did read about the whole Stanfield connection, but I get worried that once I start researching the genealogy I will just keep going and going and

  3. Excellent post as always!

    I've sometimes wondered if the reason Marceline Day didn't like talking about her movie career might have been because of some justifiable bitterness over how it ended. But my evidence for this is mostly supposition...

    The second half of the 1920s were incredible years for her career wise, and she had every reason to believe when talkies came that this would continue. But she was one of the many silent stars to receive the MGM honey trap (sign them to an excellent sounding contract, then destroy their career. Mayer & Thalberg used this strategy, as you know to weed out big silent stars with big salaries in order to launch new talkie stars with lower salaries). After being chewed and spat out by MGM, she spends the start of the 1930s in B-Movies, and seems desperate to get out of them quickly (her hair goes platinum blond, she gets 'super model skinny', and even does a nude scene). At least I interpret this sequence as being desperate, there could be other causes for all I know. But desperation or not, her career is gone after 1933. And perhaps she didn't talk about it, because it made her bitter, and who could blame her? She was a wonderful actress, and certainly deserved to fare better.

    1. Why thank you, Peter!
      Your hypothesis makes the most sense as to why she chose not to talk about her career. But, you would think that maybe she would want to to try and help other starlets out there not to make the same mistakes. I think Mary Carlisle might be in the same boat where she has yet to speak of her career...and she is over 100 by now!

  4. The first film of Marceline Day's that I viewed was just before she passed away in early 2000, a 1931 Ken Maynard oater entitled The Pocatello Kid. I remember being awestruck that she was still alive, almost seventy years later. Among her silent films, I actually like Captain Salvation the best. It has a great musical score, and made me tear-up considerably when I saw it several years ago. It might seem quite preachy nowadays, but I suppose one is warned by the title, after all.

    I showed the 1933 film, Telegraph Trail, in which she co-stars with John Wayne (part of her B-western downward spiral) to my high school students as an intro to B-westerns. It's fast-paced, has a rare Indian raid sub-plot (not as common as people think for westerns), several of the clich├ęs, and hey, young John Wayne. People born in the 1990's don't really watch John Wayne's films, so it's cool to introduce him as young man, instead of someone in his 50's and 60's in those interminable 1960's and 70's westerns that one usually sees. of my students came up to me afterwards and commented how "pretty" Ms. Day was, but asked if she had a speech impediment because of how she delivered her dialog. Come to think of it, in nearly every B-western in which I've seen her, her line reading is just slightly "off." Have you seen any of her non-western talkies to refute that?

  5. Thank you thank you for all the history. Alice Day is my husband's grand mother. I've tried to get history out of the family but it's hard to follow some of the stories. I'm glad I was searching the internet tonight