The daughter of screenwriter Tom Geraghty, she was the sister of writers Maurice and Gerald Geraghty. Although born in Indiana she was educated mostly in New York City. She went on to be a graduate of the Hollywood High School and was in the graduating class of 1919. Though her parents wished her to stay at home, she went off to become a movie star. Her father was slow to approve of his daughter's new employment. Geraghty achieved a measure of success as a Mack Sennett featured player.
She started work out as an extra in the early 1920s, using a fictitious name until getting her big break. She was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1924. She soon became a leading actress, including a co-starring role with Virginia Valli in The Pleasure Garden (1925), the first film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. She played golfer Jordan Baker in the first film version (1926) of The Great Gatsby.
A New York Times review of one of her films commented that Geraghty "gives the only performance worth mentioning. She has very pretty eyes and obviously would be able to make her acting count for something in a more dramatic vehicle."
When the age of sound dawned, her career began to crumble. Her roles began to be much smaller. Her last film role was in Phantom of Santa Fe (1936). She then retired from film altogether. She became a very accomplished artist about ten years after leaving motion pictures. Her painting style was reminiscent of French Impressionism. In the last years of her life, her artwork was put on display at the Weil Gardens in Paris. She married Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer writer/producer Carey Wilson on May 1, 1934, and the marriage ended in 1962 upon his death. Wilson worked on the Andy Hardy and Dr. Kildare films. Geraghty's father had written scenarios for Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and others.
Carmelita Geraghty died of a heart attack in 1966 at the Lombardy Hotel in Manhattan, aged 65. She was returning to her home in Los Angeles, California after a month's exhibition of her work at the Weil Galleries. She is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
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