Saturday, May 28, 2011

Marguerite Courtot & Walter Connolly

On May 28, 1986, silent film actress Marguerite Courtot died. She was born on August 20, 1897 in Summit, New Jersey. She became a child model and in June 1912, while not yet fifteen years old, joined the Kalem Company, appearing in 1913's "The Riddle of the Tin Soldier" with Alice Joyce and Harry F. Millarde who was making his film debut. Between 1912 and 1916 Courtot made thirty-seven films for Kalem including the starring role in "The Ventures of Marguerite," a sixteen episode action/adventure serial. Following the Kalem Company's merger with Vitagraph Studios, Courtot starred in the Gaumont Pictures production of "The Dead Alive," directed by Henri J. Vernot. After several films with Jesse L. Lasky's Famous Players Film Company and several smaller independents studios, she took some time off from filming. In 1919, she returned to film, primarily in supporting roles such as in the 1921 serials The Sky Ranger, starring June Caprice and The Yellow Arm starring Juanita Hansen. In 1922, while working on "Down to the Sea in Ships," the film that became her most important feature-length work, Marguerite Courtot began a relationship with co-star Raymond McKee. They married on April 23, 1923, and after completing two more films, she left Hollywood forever to raise a family. Their marriage lasted more than sixty years. Marguerite Courtot died on May 28, 1986 in Long Beach, California and is buried at the Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, California.

On May 28, 1940, actor Walter Connolly died. He was a character actor who appeared in almost fifty films between 1914 and 1939. Connolly was a successful stage actor who appeared in twenty-two Broadway productions between 1916 and 1935, notably revivals of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author and Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. His first film appearances came in two silent films, The Marked Woman (1914) and A Soldier's Oath (1915), and a talkie in 1930, Many Happy Returns, but his Hollywood film career really began in 1932, when he appeared in four films. His trademark role was that of the exasperated business tycoon or newspaperman, often as the father of the female lead character, as in It Happened One Night (1934) with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert; Broadway Bill (1934), supporting Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy; and Libeled Lady (1936) with William Powell and Loy again. Other notable roles included the worthless uncle of Paul Muni's character in The Good Earth (1937) and one of the two con men encountered by Mickey Rooney's Huckleberry Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939). Connolly starred as General Yen's American advisor in The Bitter Tea of General Yen.

Connolly mostly played supporting roles, but starred occasionally, as Nero Wolfe in The League of Frightened Men (1937); in RKO's 1939 5th Ave Girl, opposite Ginger Rogers; and as the title character in The Great Victor Herbert (1939), his last film. On radio, Connolly starred as the title character in The Adventures of Charlie Chan on NBC Radio from 1932 to 1938. He was married to actress Nedda Harrigan from 1923 until his death from a stroke on May 28, 1940. He is buried at the St. Joseph New Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio., author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"

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