|Born||Marvel Luciel Rea
November 9, 1901
Ainsworth, Nebraska, U.S.
|Died||June 17, 1937
Los Angeles, CA, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Henry Page Wells (1918–1922)
Edwin J. Wilkinson (1936–1937)
Rea's family moved from Nebraska to California in 1910. She entered silent films in 1918 joining the Keystone Film Company and becoming one of the Sennett Bathing Beauties. Her brother Thomas Rea would later enter film as well.
Rea was in Her Screen Idol (1918) with Ford Sterling and Louise Fazenda. Rea played the character, The Screen Idol's Heroine. The movie was a humorous satire on the matinee idol of motion pictures. Sennett displayed the technique of illustrating a play within a play in this production.
Rea was in movies from 1917 through 1921. Among more than twenty-five screen credits are roles in A Clever Dummy (1917), The Summer Girls (1918), East Lynne with Variations (1919), When Love Is Blind (1919), A Lightweight Lover (1920), The Simp (1920), and For Land's Sake (1920). Her death certificate lists her as an actress with the Fox Film Corporation up until 1932.
Rea was married to Henry Page Wells on October 25, 1918. They separated in November. About two weeks after their wedding Rea said that Page stood her on her head. The accusation was part of a divorce suit which Rea brought in August 1922. She accused her husband of spending most of his $800 per month salary on narcotics.
She later became engaged to Edwin J. Wilkinson in August 1936 right before her assault. They married on an unknown date and stayed married until her death.
Three young men kidnapped Rea, threw her into a large red truck, and transported her to a eucalyptus grove at 120th Street and Compton Avenue, South Los Angeles on September 2, 1936. She was then assaulted by the three. As she screamed they threw her on the ground. Her body was scratched by broken bottles and she was left semiconscious. She recovered four hours later.
Rea had been attacked while walking at 107th Street and Compton Avenue in Los Angeles, California. The youths offered to take her to her home at 159 East 107th Street. She refused. The three suspects were apprehended and questioned by Los Angeles Police Department detectives after Rea was taken home to rest. Another account says that she "staggered" into the Compton, California police station at dawn. She claimed the seizure and attack occurred around midnight. The three men were booked on suspicion of kidnaping and attack after denying the assault.
In January 1937 the three young truck drivers unsuccessfully requested a new trial on charges that they attacked Rea. They gave oral notice of appeal in Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frank M. Smith's court. The three were sentenced to prison terms of from one to fifty years. In 1939 the three men were released from prison on technicalities regarding their trials.
Rea committed suicide by ingesting ant paste. She died on June 17, 1937 in Los Angeles. She is buried at Pacific Crest Cemetery in Redondo Beach, California with her family. Her death certificate lists her as Marvel L. Wilkinson but she's buried under the name Marvel Luciel Rea.
- Marvel Rea at the Internet Movie Database
- "Ford Sterling In New Sennett Film." Ogden Examiner. July 7, 1918, Page 10.
- "Husband Stood Her On Her Head, Beauty Charges." New Castle News. August 25, 1925, Page 19.
- "Kidnap Attack Nets Three." Los Angeles Times. 1936. Page A3.
- "Trio Attacks Film Beauty." San Antonio Light. September 3, 1936, Page 1.
- "Three Sentenced in Attack Case." Los Angeles Times. January 21, 1937, Page A1
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