Dorothy Sebastian

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Dorothy Sebastian
Dorothy Sebastian RHL1.jpg
Sebastian in 1930s
Stella Dorothy Sabiston

(1903-04-26)April 26, 1903
DiedApril 8, 1957(1957-04-08) (aged 53)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery
Years active1925–1948
(m. 1930; div. 1936)

Harold Shapiro
(m. 1947)

Dorothy Sebastian (born Stella Dorothy Sabiston; April 26, 1903[note 1][1] – April 8, 1957) was an American film and stage actress.[2]

Early years[edit]

Sebastian was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, the daughter of Lycurgus (Lawrence) Robert and Stella Armstrong Sabiston.[3] After leaving Alabama and starting a career on the stage, she changed the spelling of her name to Sebastian.[4]

In her youth, she aspired to be a dancer and a film actress. Her family frowned on both ambitions, however, so she fled to New York at the age of 15. Upon her arrival in New York City, Sebastian's southern drawl was thick enough to "cut with a knife".[5] She followed around theatrical agents before returning at night to a $12-a-month room, after being consistently rejected.


Before appearing in films, Sebastian performed onstage in the musical revue, George White's Scandals.[6] Her first contact in Hollywood was Robert Kane, who gave her a film test at United Studios. She co-starred with Joan Crawford and Anita Page in a popular series of MGM romantic dramas, including Our Dancing Daughters (1928) and Our Blushing Brides (1930). Sebastian appeared in 1929's Spite Marriage, where she was cast opposite the then-married Buster Keaton, with whom she began an affair.[3]

By the mid-1930s, Sebastian was semi-retired from acting after marrying Hopalong Cassidy star William Boyd. After their 1936 divorce, she returned to acting appearing in mostly bit parts. Her last onscreen appearance was in the 1948 film The Miracle of the Bells.


Sebastian co-wrote the ballad "The Leaves Mustn't Fall" with Jack Kenney.[7] Moon Mullican recorded it in 1950 and 1958, and it has become a bluegrass standard.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Sebastian and William Boyd in His First Command (1929)

While still in Birmingham, she married her high-school sweetheart, Allen Stafford, on November 9, 1920. The marriage ended four years later just before she moved to New York.

Sebastian married actor William Boyd in December 1930 in Las Vegas, Nevada. They began a relationship after meeting on the set of His First Command in 1929.[8] They divorced in 1936.[2][9]

In 1947, Sebastian married Miami Beach businessman Harold Shapiro to whom she remained married until her death.[10]

Legal issues[edit]

On November 7, 1938, Sebastian was found guilty of drunk driving in a Beverly Hills, California Justice Court. The night she was arrested, she had been dining at Buster Keaton's home with her nephew. She was given a 30-day suspended jail sentence and paid a fine of $75.[11]

In 1940, Sebastian was denied an award of $10,000 from a San Diego court. She had appeared at a Red Cross benefit in San Francisco in 1937, and failed to pay her hotel bill. She contended the promoter for the event should have paid the bill. An employee of the Plaza Hotel took out the suit, charging "defrauding an innkeeper." The State Supreme Court of California reversed the lower court's decision, which had awarded her the money on grounds of malicious prosecution.[12]

Death and legacy[edit]

On April 8, 1957, Sebastian died of cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.[2][10] She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[citation needed]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Sebastian has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6655 Hollywood Boulevard. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960.[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1925 Bluebeard's Seven Wives Gilda La Bray
1925 Sackcloth and Scarlet Polly Freeman Lost film
1925 Why Women Love Pearl Lost film
1925 Winds of Chance Laura
1926 Torrent Woman in Audience Uncredited
1926 You'd Be Surprised Ruth Whitman
1927 The Show Salvation Army Worker Uncredited
1927 The Demi-Bride Lola
1927 On Ze Boulevard Gaby de Sylva
1927 The Isle of Forgotten Women Marua
1927 Slide, Kelly, Slide Train Passenger Uncredited
1927 California Carlotta del Rey
1927 Twelve Miles Out Chiquita
1927 Tea for Three Annette
1927 The Arizona Wildcat Regina Schyler
1927 Love Spectator Extra at Races Uncredited
1927 The Haunted Ship Goldie Kane
1928 Our Dancing Daughters Beatrice
1928 Show People Dorothy Sebastian Uncredited
1928 A Woman of Affairs Constance
1928 Their Hour Cora
1928 The House of Scandal Ann Rourke
1928 Wyoming Samantha Jerusha Farrell
1928 The Adventurer Dolores de Silva
1929 Spite Marriage Trilby Drew
1929 His First Command Judy Gaylord
1929 Morgan's Last Raid Judith Rogers
1929 The Devil's Apple Tree Dorothy Ryan
1929 The Rainbow Lola
1929 The Spirit of Youth Betty Grant
1929 The Single Standard Mercedes
1929 The Unholy Night Lady Efra Cavender Alternative title: The Green Ghost
1930 Brothers Norma Moore
1930 Montana Moon Elizabeth "Lizzie" Prescott
1930 Officer O'Brien Ruth Dale
1930 Free and Easy Dorothy Sebastian - Actress in Cave Scene
1930 Hell's Island Marie
1930 Our Blushing Brides Francine Daniels
1930 The Rounder Ethel Dalton MGM short, costarring Jack Benny.
1930 Ladies Must Play Norma Blake
1930 The Utah Kid Jennie Lee
1931 The Big Gamble Beverly
1931 The Deceiver Ina Fontanne
1931 The Lightning Flyer Rose Rogers
1931 Ships of Hate Grace Walsh
1932 They Never Come Back Adele Landon
1933 Ship of Wanted Men Irene Reynolds
1934 The Life of Vergie Winters Lulu
1937 The Mysterious Pilot Jean McNain
1939 The Arizona Kid Bess Warren
1939 Days of Jesse James Zerilda James
1939 Rough Riders' Round-up Rose
1939 The Women Saleswoman Pat
1941 Among the Living Woman in Cafe
1941 Kansas Cyclone Helen King
1942 True to the Army Gloria Uncredited
1942 Reap the Wild Wind Guest at Ball Uncredited
1945 George White's Scandals Gloria Uncredited
1948 The Miracle of the Bells Miss Katie Orwin Uncredited


  1. ^ The book Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory gives Sebastian's date of birth as April 26, 1907.


  1. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 172. ISBN 9780786450190. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Dorothy Sebastian, Former Actress, Dies". Reading Eagle. Associated Press. April 9, 1957. p. 22. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Fair, John D. (March 22, 2021). "Dorothy Sebastian". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. Auburn, Alabama: Alabama Humanities Alliance.
  4. ^ Gwaltney, Caroline. "You Ought to Be in Pictures". National Alumni Association. The University of Alabama. Retrieved June 16, 2021.
  5. ^ "Dorothy Is Gate Crasher". Los Angeles Times. October 4, 1926. p. C20.
  6. ^ "A Rising Star of Films". Morning Register. Oregon, Eugene. September 6, 1925. p. 10. Retrieved September 28, 2017 – via open access
  7. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series. The Library of Congress. 1951. p. 525.
  8. ^ Merrick, Molly (December 30, 1930). "Hollywood In Person". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  9. ^ "Divorces William Boyd". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 30, 1936.
  10. ^ a b Brettell, Andrew; King, Noel; Kennedy, Damien; Imwold, Denise (2005). Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies. Leonard, Warren Hsu; von Rohr, Heather. Barrons Educational Series. p. 179. ISBN 0-7641-5858-9.
  11. ^ "Actress Found Guilty Of Driving While Intoxicated". Lewiston Morning Tribune. November 8, 1968. p. 3. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  12. ^ "High Court Rules Against Actress". Los Angeles Times. May 28, 1940. p. 9.
  13. ^ "Dorothy Sebastian". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on September 29, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  • Los Angeles Times, "Alabama Steps To Top", August 10, 1930, Page B16.
  • Oakland Tribune, "Kin of Actress Burns To Death", May 14, 1938, Page 1.

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