Madge Bellamy

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Madge Bellamy
Madgebellamy.jpg
Born Margaret Derden Philpott
(1899-06-30)June 30, 1899
Hillsboro, Texas, U.S.
Died January 24, 1990(1990-01-24) (aged 90)
Upland, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Heart failure
Resting place
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Occupation Actress
Years active 1918–1945
Spouse(s) Logan F. Metcalf (m. 1928; div. 1928)

Madge Bellamy (June 30, 1899 – January 24, 1990) was an American stage and film actress who was a popular leading lady in the 1920s and early 1930s. Her career declined in the sound era, and ended following a romantic scandal in the 1940s.

Early life[edit]

Bellamy was born Margaret Derden Philpott in Hillsboro, Texas in 1899 (some sources state 1900) to William Bledsoe Philpott and Annie Margaret (née Derden) Philpott. William Bledsoe Philpott was a professor of English at Texas A&M University.[1]

Bellamy was raised in San Antonio, Texas until she was 6 years old, and the family later moved to Brownwood, Texas, where her father taught at the local college. When she was 10 years old, the Philpotts moved to Denver, Colorado. She became interested in acting even as a young girl, and she soon appeared in several plays. She ran away to New York City at age 17, and she was soon working as an actress and dancer on Broadway. In 1918, she played the lead role in Pollyanna on Broadway and in the touring show. She appeared in Dear Brutus, Dream Girl, and Peg O' My Heart on Broadway. In November 1920, she signed an exclusive contract with Thomas H. Ince's newly formed Triangle film company to appear in the film called Passing Thru, which was released in the fall of 1921.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Bellamy made her film debut in 1920. After four years with Famous Players her contract was picked up by Fox Film Corporation. Her best known films include Love Never Dies (1921), Lorna Doone (1922), and The Iron Horse (1924).

Bellamy made a successful transition to sound film in 1928 with the hit Mother Knows Best, but after a dispute with Fox in 1929 she left the studio and could not find work again until 1932 when she began appearing in B movies. One of her better known roles from this period was in the 1932 film White Zombie, in which she starred opposite Bela Lugosi. Bellamy later said of her career, "I got too big for my britches. I wanted too much money and when it was not forthcoming, I quit."[2]

Scandal and decline[edit]

On January 20, 1943, Bellamy was arrested in San Francisco and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after firing a .32 caliber revolver at her former lover, wealthy lumber executive Albert Stanwood Murphy, three times. Bellamy had been having an affair with Murphy for a number of years before he ended the relationship in October 1942. After reading in the paper that Murphy had married former model June Almy shortly after their break up, Bellamy traveled to San Francisco to confront him and "... make him suffer somehow."[3] She later admitted that she waited around Murphy's apartment in the Nob Hill area for four days. She eventually spotted Murphy leaving the Pacific Union club on January 20. While Murphy was getting into his car, Bellamy fired three shots at him. She later said, "I wasn't within speaking distance [of Murphy], but he saw me and shouted something I didn't understand. Maybe it was 'don't.' Then I guess I shot at him. He ducked and ran." She fired three times, hitting Murphy's car twice while the third shot missed. Witnesses wrestled the gun out of her hand.[4]

Shortly after the shooting, Bellamy claimed that she didn't intend to harm Murphy and that she "... just wanted to see him. He wouldn't see me so I took the little gun with me. [...] I had had the little gun so long I thought it was just a toy."[4] She was also quoted as saying, "I only winged him, which is what I meant to do. Believe me, I'm a crack shot".[5] Some show business references state outright that Bellamy shot Murphy but her defense attorney Jake Ehrlich, contended she never struck Murphy despite firing several shots at him at close range. Ehrlich described that as proof that Bellamy had merely intended to scare Murphy as she later claimed. Ehrlich also characterized her as a wronged woman. He said that Bellamy had always refused any gifts or support from the wealthy Murphy, relying instead on his promise to marry her once he was divorced. When Murphy married someone else, Ehrlich said, Bellamy was humiliated and set out to teach him a lesson. Amid all the claims and counter-claims, the publicity shy Murphy soon stopped cooperating with investigators. The charge against Bellamy was eventually suspended.

In July 1943, Bellamy filed for divorce from Murphy in Nevada despite the fact that the two were never legally married. Bellamy claimed that she and Murphy were married by "mutual consent" in Las Vegas in April 1941 and had lived as husband and wife up until Murphy ended the relationship. She charged Murphy with "extreme mental cruelty" and asked for both temporary and permanent alimony.[6] In January 1944, a Nevada court denied Bellamy's divorce.[7]

The shooting and divorce filing generated much publicity but effectively ended Bellamy's already fading career. She made her last screen appearance in Northwest Trail in 1945. She returned to the stage in 1946 in the Los Angeles production of Holiday Lady, after which she retired.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Bellamy's only marriage was to bond broker Logan F. Metcalf.[9] They married in Tijuana on January 24, 1928.[10] They separated four days later and were divorced three months later, on April 28, 1928.[10]

Later years and death[edit]

Bellamy reportedly received a five figure settlement from Albert Stanwood Murphy,[7] but lived in poverty for much of her post-screen life. She worked selling tools in a shop and attempted to become a published novelist but was unsuccessful. In the 1980s, however, she sold her property during the California real estate boom and, by her account, made more money than she had during her years in films.

In her final years, Bellamy lived alone in Ontario, California. She suffered from chronic heart problems towards the end of her life and, on January 10, 1990, checked into the San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, California for treatment.[1] She died there of heart failure on January 24, 1990, aged 90.[2][11] She was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[12] Her autobiography, A Darling of the Twenties, was published one month after her death.[2]

Filmography[edit]

Silent[edit]

  • The Riddle: Woman (1920)
  • The Cup of Life (1921)
  • Passing Through (1921)
  • Blind Hearts (1921)
  • Love Never Dies (1921)
  • The Call of the North (1921)
  • Hail the Woman (1921)
  • Lorna Doone (1922)
  • The Hottentot (1922)
  • Garrison's Finish (1923)
  • Are You a Failure? (1923)
  • Soul of the Beast (1923)
  • No More Women (1924)
  • Do It Now (1924)
  • The White Sin (1924)
  • Love's Whirpool (1924)
  • His Forgotten Wife (1924)
  • Love and Glory (1924)
  • The Iron Horse (1924)
  • Secrets of the Night (1924)
  • On the Stroke of Three (1924)
  • A Fool and His Money (1925, Lost)
  • The Dancers (1925)
  • The Parasite (1925)
  • The Restless Sex (1925)
  • Wings of Youth (1925, Lost)
  • The Man in Blue (1925)
  • Lightnin' (1925)
  • Havoc (1925 Fox)
  • Thunder Mountain (1925, Lost)
  • Lazybones (1925)
  • The Golden Strain (1925)
  • The Dixie Merchant (1926, Lost)
  • Sandy (1926)
  • Black Paradise (1926)
  • Summer Bachelors (1926)
  • Bertha, the Sewing Machine Girl (1926, Lost)
  • Ankles Preferred (1927 )
  • The Telephone Girl (1927, Lost)
  • Colleen (1927 Fox)
  • Very Confidential (1927, Lost)
  • Silk Legs (1927, Lost)
  • Soft Living (1928)
  • The Play Girl (1928, Lost)

Sound[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b "Silent screen star Madge Bellamy at 89". Bangor Daily News. January 29, 1990. p. 5. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Madge Bellamy, 90, 1920's Film Actress". nytimes.com. New York City. January 27, 1990. 
  3. ^ "Actress Madge Bellamy Takes Shot at Clubman". St. Petersburg Times. January 21, 1943. p. 6. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Clubman Dodges Three Shots From Gun of Madge Bellamy". The Milwaukee Journal. January 20, 1943. p. 3. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ Dindle, Peter; The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia; page 191; McFarland and Company, 2001; ISBN 0-7864-0859-6
  6. ^ "Madge Bellamy Asks Divorce". St. Petersburg Times. July 13, 1943. p. 15. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Madge Bellamy, 'Never Married', Denied Decree". The Milwaukee Journal. January 5, 1944. p. 11. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ Dindle 2001 p. 201
  9. ^ "Madge Bellamy". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. January 27, 1990. p. 4B. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Madge Bellamy's Husband Gets Divorce". The Lewiston Daily Sun. April 26, 1928. p. 1. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  11. ^ Willis, John (1991). John Willis' Screen World, Volume 42. Crown. p. 236. 
  12. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 228. ISBN 0-786-40983-5. 
Bibliography
  • 1900 United States Federal Census, Brazos, Texas, June 18, 1900, Enumeration District 13, Sheet 9A
  • Dallas Morning News, "Madge Bellamy, Screen Star, Is Texas Girl", April 25, 1925, p. 6
  • The Columbus Enquirer Sun, "Madge Bellamy Today "Passing Thru" Rialto: Charming Actress is Leading Woman For Douglas MacLean's New Screen Personality", April 9, 1921

External links[edit]