Lou Tellegen

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Lou Tellegen
Loutellegen.jpg
Lou Tellegen in 1916
Born Isidore Louis Bernard Edmon van Dommelen
(1881-11-26)November 26, 1881
Sint-Oedenrode, Netherlands
Died October 29, 1934(1934-10-29) (aged 52)
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Suicide
Occupation Actor, director, screenwriter
Years active 1910 – 1934
Spouse(s) Countess Jeanne de Brockere (m. 1903; div. 1905)
Geraldine Farrar (m. 1916; div. 1920)
Nina Romano (m. 1923; div. 1928)
Eve Casanova (m. 1930; div. 1932)

Lou Tellegen (November 26, 1881 – October 29, 1934) was a Dutch-born silent film and stage actor, director and screenwriter.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born Isidore Louis Bernard Edmon van Dommelen,[2] he was the illegitimate child of army lieutenant Isidore Louis Bernard Edmon Tellegen (1836–1902) and Anna Maria van Dommelen.

He left his birth town, Sint-Oedenrode, to make his stage debut in Amsterdam in 1903, and over the next few years built a reputation to the point where he was invited to perform in Paris, eventually co-starring in several roles with Sarah Bernhardt, with whom he was involved romantically. In 1910, he made his motion picture debut alongside Bernhardt in La dame aux camélias, a silent film made in France based on the play by Alexandre Dumas, fils.

Career[edit]

Tellegen caricatured by OWL in Vanity Fair, 1913

In 1910, he and Bernhardt travelled to the United States, where The New York Times first published, and then retracted, the announcement of their impending marriage. (She was 37 years his senior.) Back in France, in 1912 they made their second film together, Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth (Queen Elizabeth), and the following year, Adrienne Lecouvreur. The latter is considered a lost film.

In the summer of 1913, Tellegen went to London where he produced and starred in the Oscar Wilde play, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Invited back to the United States, Tellegen worked in theatre and made his first American film in 1915, titled The Explorer, followed by The Unknown, both with Dorothy Davenport as his co-star. Considered one of the best-looking actors on screen, he followed up with three straight films starring opposite Geraldine Farrar. In 1916, he married Farrar, a well-known opera diva turned film actress, who was herself known to be the lover of Germany's Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany.

Tellegen's marriage to Farrar did not last (they divorced in 1923). Tellegen married a total of four times, the first being a countess in 1903 (this union produced a daughter), the second to Farrar in 1916. His third marriage was to actress Nina Romano (real name: Isabel Craven Dilworth).[3] His fourth marriage was to silent film star Eve Casanova (real name Julia Horne).[2] He became an American citizen in 1918.[4]

Later career and death[edit]

Tellegen appeared in numerous films before his face was damaged in a fire on Christmas Day 1929, when he fell asleep while smoking, preparing for an out-of-town tryout for a play. He had extensive plastic surgery in 1931.

One memorable roles was as the villain in John Ford's Western 3 Bad Men (1926), in which Tellegen wore a white hat instead of the stereotypical black hat. Fame fading, employment not forthcoming, and ridden with debt, he filed for bankruptcy. He was diagnosed with cancer, though this information was kept from him, and he became despondent. In 1931, he wrote his autobiography Women Have Been Kind.

On October 29, 1934, while a guest in the Cudahy Mansion at 1844 North Vine Street in Hollywood (now the site of the Vine-Franklin underpass of the Hollywood Freeway), Tellegen locked himself in the bathroom, then shaved and powdered his face. Then while standing in front of a full-length mirror, he committed suicide by stabbing himself with a pair of sewing scissors seven times (supposedly while surrounded by newspaper clippings of his career), resulting in lurid press coverage.[5][6]

When asked to comment on Tellegen's death, former wife Geraldine Farrar replied, "Why should that interest me?" Tellegen's remains were cremated and scattered at sea.[6]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1911 La Dame aux camélias Armand Duval
1912 Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex Alternative titles: Queen Elizabeth
La Reine Élisabeth
1913 Adrienne Lecouvreur Alternative title: An Actress's Romance
1915 The Explorer Alec McKenzie Credited as Lou-Tellegen
1915 The Unknown Richard Farquhar
1916 The Victory of Conscience Louis, Count De Tavannes
1916 The Victoria Cross Major Ralph Seton
1917 The Black Wolf The Black Wolf
1917 The Long Trail Andre Dubois
1917 What Money Can't Buy
Director
1918 The Thing We Love
Director
1919 The World and Its Woman Prince Michael Orbeliana Alternative title: The Golden Song
1919 Flame of the Desert Sheik Essad
1920 The Woman and the Puppet Don Mateo
1920 Blind Youth
Writer
1924 Let Not Man Put Asunder Dick Lechmere Lost film
1924 Between Friends David Drene
1924 Single Wives Martin Prayle
1924 The Breath of Scandal Charles Hale
1924 Those Who Judge John Dawson
1924 Greater Than Marriage John Masters
1925 The Redeeming Sin Lupin
1925 Fair Play Bruce Elliot Alternative title: The Danger Zone
1925 The Verdict Victor Ronsard
1925 Parisian Nights Jean
1925 After Business Hours John King
1925 The Sporting Chance Darrell Thorton
1925 Parisian Love Pierre Marcel
1925 With This Ring Rufus Van Buren
1925 East Lynne Sir Francis Levison
1925 Borrowed Finery Harlan
1926 The Outsider Anton Ragatzy
1926 Siberia Egor Kaplan
1926 The Silver Treasure Sotillo, the Bandit
1926 3 Bad Men Sheriff Layne Hunter
1926 Womanpower The Broker
1927 Stage Madness Pieerre Doumier
1927 The Princess From Hoboken Prince Anton Balakrieff
1927 The Little Firebrand Harley Norcross
1927 Married Alive James Duxbury
1928 No Other Woman
Director
1930 To oneiron tou glyptou Writer, director
Alternative title: Pygmalion kai Galateia
1931 Enemies of the Law Eddie Swan
1934 Caravane Uncredited; French-language version of Fox production Caravan
1935 Together We Live Bischofsky

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ HOLLYWOODLAND "Lou tellegen, the rise and fall of a matinee idol" by Allan Ellenberger, March 7, 2011
  2. ^ a b "Lou Tellegen, Idol of Stage and Silent Screen, Stabs Himself Seven Times." Spartanburg (SC) Herald, October 30, 1934, pp. 1-2.
  3. ^ George H. Beale, "Lou Tellegen, the Gable of Silent Films, Stabs Self to Death to Escape Poverty." Pittsburgh Press, October 30, 1934, p. 1.
  4. ^ "Lou-Tellegen Now a Citizen". The New York Times. 1918-03-13. p. 9. 
  5. ^ Mankiewicz, Joseph L. (2008). Joseph L. Mankiewicz: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi. p. 61. ISBN 1-934110-24-8. 
  6. ^ a b "Metropolitan Announcer". Time. 1934-11-12. Retrieved 2008-03-30. 

References[edit]

  • Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale, The Divine Sarah (New York: Vintage Books, 1991.) ISBN 0-679-74185-2
  • David W. Menefee, The Rise and Fall of Lou-Tellegen (Menefee Publishing, Inc, 2011). ISBN 978-1-4610-4480-2

External links[edit]