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Publicity still of McDermott (ca 1925)
24 July 1881|
Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||5 January 1929
Glendale, California, U.S.
Early life and career
McDermott was born Marcus McDermott in Goulburn, New South Wales to Irish parents. At age 15, while McDermott was studying at the Jesuit College of Sydney, his father Patrick died. To support his mother and sister, McDermott joined an acting troupe in Sydney. Within a year, he was discovered by illustrious stage actor George Rignold, who put him in some of his future works. Later in London, McDermott was seen by the wife of Patrick Campbell, and was cast to star opposite her in future plays. He then sailed to the United States and played on Broadway opposite her as Sir George Orreyed in The Second Mrs. Tanqeray. Back in London, New York agent and producer Charles Frohman saw McDermott's work and was impressed. He then hired him to play Sherlock Holmes and later brought him to the United States.
McDermott got his first taste of the American film industry when he was hired by Thomas Edison in 1909 to appear as a featured player at Edison's Bronx studio, in replacement of Maurice Costello, who had moved to Vitagraph, the first motion picture stock company ever formed. McDermott was then picked for a role in Les Misérables, acting with Maurice Costello and William V. Ranous. Later that year, he acted in the 1909 short Lochinvar, based on the story by Sir Walter Scott. That movie was released before Les Misérables, but he filmed the movie after Lochinvar. The next year, McDermott was cast as Ebenezer Scrooge in the short seventeen-minute silent film adaptation of Charles Dickens' work, A Christmas Carol. In 1912, McDermott starred with Mary Fuller and Charles Ogle in What Happened to Mary?, the first motion picture serial made in the U.S. The Edison Studios production consisted of twelve one-reel episodes released monthly starting on July 26, 1912 to coincide with the serial of the same name published in McClure's Ladies' World magazine.
Two years later, McDermott appeared as the lead in The Man Who Disappeared, another popular ten-chapter series that also was featured in magazines just as each chapter appeared on screen. McDermott had starred in over 140 films for Edison by 1916, and had frequently appeared in popular film magazines like Photoplay and Moving Picture World. That year, on April 20, McDermott married stage actress Miriam Nesbitt, who later costarred with him in many films such as The Man Who Disappeared. McDermott then left Edison Studios to join Vitagraph Studios. For the next decade, McDermott spent his time starring in minor and major roles in dozens of movies.
- Les Misérables (1909)
- A Christmas Carol (1910) as Ebenezer Scrooge
- What Happened to Mary? (1912)
- The Passer-By (1912)
- Who Will Marry Mary? (1913)
- The Man Who Disappeared (1914)
- Even as Eve (1920) - O'Hara
- While New York Sleeps (1920)
- Blind Wives (1920)
- Footlights (1921)
- Miss 139 (1921)
- The Spanish Jade (1922)
- Hoodman Blind (1923)
- He Who Gets Slapped (1924)
- Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (1924)
- Flesh and the Devil (1926)
- The Temptress (1926)
- The Road to Romance (1927)
- Man, Woman and Sin (1927)
- Glorious Betsy (1928)
- Yellow Lily (1928)
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