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|Born||Irene Frances Luther
October 13, 1891
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
|Died||April 22, 1988
Hope Ranch, California, U.S.
1 child (Frances)
1 child (Jane)
David F. Blankenhorn
George Henry Clifford
(1950-1959; his death)
Born Irene Frances Luther in Buffalo, New York, to Mabel A. (née Robinson) and William Martin Luther. Luther was raised in the Buffalo area and then Stites, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington with her older half-brother Edwin Darius Luther (1884-1961) and younger brother, Richard Robinson Luther.
She married Elvo Elcourt Deffenbaugh at All Saints' Cathedral in Spokane, Washington on February 17, 1909, after her parents talked about sending her to boarding school. Irene and Elvo had one child, Frances Rich, who became a stage and film actress in the 1930s before becoming a noted sculptor. Elvo was a salesman who traveled a lot. The young family moved to the Bay Area of San Francisco, where the marriage ended after two years.
Next she married Charles Henry Rich, who was then a lieutenant in the United States Army (became a major during World War I and was later a lieutenant colonel), in Portland, Oregon on January 9, 1912. The two had met when he was stationed with the 25th Infantry at Fort George Wright in Spokane. They had one daughter Martha Jane (b.December 13, 1916 in San Francisco). The marriage ended after four years. Luther went into real estate to feed herself and her two daughters. She then went to Hollywood in 1918 and got work as an extra.
Rich worked for Will Rogers, who used her in eight pictures, including Water Water Everywhere (1920), The Strange Boarder (1920), Jes' Call Me Jim (1920), Boys Will Be Boys (1921) and The Ropin' Fool (1921). She often portrayed society women, such as in the 1925 adaptation of Lady Windermere's Fan and also in Queen of the Yukon (1940).
In two of her last films she played a frontier wife and mother. She was the mother of Gail Russell's character 'Penelope Worth', in John Wayne's Angel and the Badman as well as in John Ford's cavalry story Fort Apache in which she portrayed Mrs. O'Rourke, the wife of Sergeant O'Rourke (Ward Bond).
In the 1930s, Rich did much work in radio. From 1933 to 1944, she hosted a nationwide anthology program of serialized mini-dramas, Dear John (aka The Irene Rich Show). Her leading man was actor Gale Gordon, (who later played Lucille Ball's apoplectic boss "Mr. Mooney" on TV).
Personal life, death, and tribute
Rich married for the third time on April 6, 1927, in Del Monte, California, to real estate mogul David Ferguson Blankenhorn (1886-1969), at the home of William May Garland. Blankenhorn was well known in the Los Angeles real estate market, was a longtime resident of Pasadena and San Francisco, and handled the transaction of William Wrigley, Jr. purchasing Catalina Island in 1919. Rich and Blankenhorn separated at least three times in the summer and fall of 1931, they filed for divorce on October 30, 1931, they were divorced that November.
She became involved in a deadly love triangle in 1949 when Agnes Elizabeth Garnier shot and killed wealthy businessman John Edwin Owen (1881-1949). Owen, formerly a businessman and politician from Michigan, was president of the National Apartment House Owner's Association, among other business interests, including cattle and horse ranching in Gunnison, Colorado and Riverside, California. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigator said that Garnier killed Owen (who was married, but estranged and separated from his wife) and blamed Rich for coming between them. Garnier, Owen's personal secretary, told the district attorney that the gun went off accidentally and she took the gun from an intoxicated Owen as he was going to bed. Rich said that she was not in love with Owen and that they were just friends. Garnier, plead innocent, the prosecutor decided not to try for first degree murder, and she was found guilty of manslaughter, and received a sentence of "one-to-ten" years. Gernier, after losing her appeal in January 1950, was released from Tehachapi Prison after serving less than a year-and-a-half, in May 1951. She died in San Diego in 1990 at the age of 93.
On February 28, 1950, Rich married George Henry Clifford (1881-1959), a public utilities executive, at the Sherry-Netherlands Hotel in New York City. He was president of Stone & Webster Service Corporation. The couple bought a ranch at Hope, near Santa Barbara, in 1956, were they lived out the remainder of their lives.
Rich was married four times. She had two daughters, Frances and Jane.
Rich has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for her contribution to the motion picture industry at 6225 Hollywood Boulevard and one for her contributions to the radio industry at 6150 Hollywood Boulevard.
|1918||A Law Unto Herself||Stephanie|
|1919||The Spite Bride||Eileen Moore|
|Her Purchase Price||Marga|
|1920||Stop Thief||Madge Carr|
|1921||Sunset Jones||Marion Rand|
|1921||A Tale of Two Worlds||Mrs. Carmichael|
|1922||The Trap||The Teacher|
|The Yosemite Trail||Eve Marsham|
|1923||Brass||Mrs. Grotenberg/ aka Mrs. G|
|1924||Beau Brummel||Charlotte, Duchess of York|
|Behold This Woman||Louise Maurel||private collector; abridged version|
|1925||The Man Without a Conscience||Shirley Graves|
|Pleasure Buyers||Joan Wiswell||print held; Museum of Modern Art, New York|
|Lady Windermere's Fan||Mrs. Erlynne|
|1926||Silken Shackles||Denise Lake|
|1927||The Climbers||Duchess of Arrogan|
|Dearie||Sylvia Darling/aka "Dearie"|
|The Desired Woman||Diana Maxwell|
|1928||Across the Atlantic||?undetermined|
|Ned McCobb's Daughter||Carol|
|Women They Talk About||Irene Mervin Hughes|
|1929||The Exalted Flapper||Queen Charlotte of Capra|
|They Had to See Paris||Idy Peters|
|1930||Check and Double Check||Mrs. Blair|
|So This Is London||Mrs. Draper|
|1931||Strangers May Kiss||Celia|
|Five and Ten||Jenny Rarick|
|Beau Ideal||Lady Brandon|
|1932||Manhattan Tower||Ann Burns|
|1938||That Certain Age||Dorothy Fullerton|
|1939||Everybody's Hobby||Mrs. Myra Leslie|
|1940||The Mortal Storm||Amelie Roth|
|1941||Three Sons o' Guns||Mrs. Margaret Patterson|
|1942||This Time for Keeps||Mrs. Bryant||Alternative title: Over the Waves|
|1947||Calendar Girl||Lulu Varden||Alternative title: Star Dust and Sweet Music|
|1948||Joan of Arc||Catherine le Royer|
|Fort Apache||Mary O'Rourke|
|1949||The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre||1 episode|
- Flint, Peter B. (April 25, 1988), Irene Rich, Silent-Screen Actress And Radio Personality, Dies at 96, The New York Times
- February 21, 1909, Society, The Spokesman-Review: 2
- Spokane Society Woman Becomes Bride Of Lieutenant From Fort, Spokane Daily Chronicle, January 9, 1912: 3
- California Birth Index. - California Department of Health Services Office of Health Information and Research.
- Irene Rich Is Married, The Spokesman-Review (Associated Press), April 7, 1927
- Merrick, Mollie (October 30, 1931), Stars And Talkies Of Hollywood, The Spokesman-Review (North American Newspaper Alliance): 5
- Irene Rich Cruel, Charge, The Spokesman-Review (Associated Press), October 30, 1931: 1
- Woman Held For Killing Wealthy Man, St. Petersburg Times (Associated Press), April 24, 1949: 1
- Owen Case Witness Names Irene Rich, Los Angeles Times, May 10, 1949: 4
- Ryon, Art (June 17, 1949), Garnier Case May Go to Jury Today, Los Angeles Times: 5
- Ryon, Art (June 18, 1949), Mrs. Garnier Convicted of Manslaughter, Los Angeles Times: 1
- Mrs. Garnier Must Go to Prison for Slaying, Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1950: 4
- Mrs. Gamier Is Released From Prison, Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1951: A
- California Death Index. - California Department of Health Services Office of Health Information and Research.
- Irene Rich To Marry Again, The Hartford Courant, February 28, 1950: 2
- Drama, Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1956: 26
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Irene Rich.|
- Irene Rich at the Internet Movie Database
- Irene Rich at the Internet Broadway Database
- Irene Rich at Allmovie
- Irene Rich at Virtual History
- Irene Rich Collection
- Photos of Irene Rich
- Actress Loses Weight By Using Sponsor
- Irene Rich at Find a Grave