Estelle Taylor

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Estelle Taylor
Estelletaylor.jpg
Born Ida Estelle Taylor
(1894-05-20)May 20, 1894
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
Died April 15, 1958(1958-04-15) (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Cancer
Resting place Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Education Wilmington High School
Occupation Actress
Years active 1919–1945
Spouse(s) Kenneth Malcolm Peacock
(married 1911–1925)
Jack Dempsey
(married 1925–1931)
Paul Smith
(married 1943–1945)

Estelle Taylor (May 20, 1894 – April 15, 1958) was an American actress whose career was most prominent during Hollywood's silent film era of the 1920s.[1]

Early life[edit]

Taylor was born Ida Estelle Taylor to a Jewish family[2] in Wilmington, Delaware. Her father, Harry D. Taylor (born 1871), was born in Delaware.[3] Her mother, Ida LaBertha Barrett (1874–1965), was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, and later worked as a freelance makeup artist.[4] Harry and Ida divorced in 1903.[5] Estelle's younger sister, Helen Taylor (born 1898),[6] appeared as an extra in silent films.[7][8]

By 1910, Taylor was living with her maternal grandparents, Charles Christopher Barrett and Ida Lauber.[9] She attended high school and college in Wilmington.[10] In 1911, she married bank cashier Kenneth M. Peacock.[11]

Career[edit]

She made her stage debut in the musical Come On, Charlie.[12] After relocating to Hollywood, she began taking bit parts in films. One of Taylor's earliest successes was in 1920 in Fox's While New York Sleeps with Marc McDermott. She and McDermott play three sets of characters in different time periods. This film was lost for decades, but has been recently discovered and screened at a film festival in Los Angeles.

She starred opposite John Gilbert in Monte Cristo (1922); the New York Herald critic wrote that "Miss Taylor was as effective in the revenge section of the film as she was in the first or love part of the screened play. Here is a class of face that can stand a close-up without becoming a mere speechless automaton."[13]

One of her most memorable roles is that of Miriam, the sister of Moses (portrayed by Theodore Roberts), in the biblical prologue of Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1923), one of the most successful films of the silent era. Her performance in the DeMille film was considered a great acting achievement.[14]

Taylor as Mary, Queen of Scots, from Stars of the Photoplay (1924)

Despite being ill with arthritis, she won the supporting role of Mary, Queen of Scots in Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (1924), starring Mary Pickford. "I've since wondered if my long illness did not, in some measure at least, make for realism in registering the suffering of the unhappy and tormented Scotch queen," she told a reporter in 1926.[14]

She played Lucretia Borgia in Don Juan (1926), Warner Bros.' first feature-length film with synchronized Vitaphone sound effects and musical soundtrack. The film also starred John Barrymore, Mary Astor and Warner Oland. Variety praised her characterization of Lucretia: "The complete surprise is the performance of Estelle Taylor as Lucretia Borgia. Her Lucretia is a fine piece of work. She makes it sardonic in treatment, conveying precisely the woman Lucretia is presumed to have been."[15]

She was supposed to have co-starred in a film with Rudolph Valentino, but he died just before production was to begin.[16]

One of her last silent films was New York (1927), featuring Ricardo Cortez and Lois Wilson.

In 1928, she and husband Dempsey starred in a Broadway play titled The Big Fight, loosely based around Dempsey's boxing popularity, which ran for 31 performances at the Majestic Theatre.[17]

Taylor made a successful transition to sound films or "talkies." Her first sound film was the comical sketch Pusher in the Face (1929).[10] Notable sound films in which she appeared include Street Scene (1931), with Sylvia Sidney; the Academy Award for Best Picture-winning Cimarron (1931), with Richard Dix and Irene Dunne; and Call Her Savage (1932), with Clara Bow.

Taylor's last film appearance was in Jean Renoir's The Southerner (1945).

Personal life[edit]

Dempsey with his wife Estelle on his shoulder. (Chicago, 1925)

Taylor married three times. Her first husband was banker Kenneth Malcolm Peacock,[18] her second husband was "Jack" Dempsey,[19] the world heavyweight boxing champion, and her third husband was a theatrical producer, Paul Smith. She had no children.

In her later years, Taylor devoted her free time to her pets and was the president and founder of the California Pet Owners' Protective League.[10] In 1953, Taylor served on the City Animal Regulation Commission in Los Angeles, California.[10]

Death[edit]

She died in 1958, after a battle with cancer.[10][12] She was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Legacy[edit]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Estelle Taylor was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1620 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.[20]

Film portrayal[edit]

In the 1983 American television biopic Dempsey, Estelle Taylor was portrayed by British actress Victoria Tennant.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1919 The Golden Shower Helen
1920 The Adventurer Maritana
The Revenge of Tarzan Countess de Coude
While New York Sleeps A Wife / The Vamp / The Girl
Blind Wives Anne / Annie / Annette
The Tower of Jewels Adele Warren
1921 Footfalls Peggy Hawthorne
1922 A Fool There Was Gilda Fontaine
Monte Cristo Mercedes, Countess de Morcerf
The Lights of New York Mrs. George Burton
Only a Shop Girl Mame Mulvey
Thorns and Orange Blossoms Rosita Mendez
A California Romance Donna Dolores
1923 Bavu Princess Annia
Mary of the Movies Herself Uncredited
Forgive and Forget Mrs. Cameron
Desire Madalyn Harlan
The Ten Commandments Miriam, The Sister of Moses
1924 Phantom Justice 'Goldie' Harper
Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall Mary, Queen of Scots
Tiger Love Marcheta
Passion's Pathway Dpora Kenyon
The Alaskan Mary Standish
Playthings of Desire Gloria Dawn
1925 Manhattan Madness The Girl
Wandering Footsteps Helen Maynard
1926 Don Juan Lucretia Borgia
1927 New York Angie Miller
1928 The Whip Woman Sari
Honor Bound Evelyn Mortimer
Lady Raffles Lady Raffles
The Singapore Mutiny Daisy
1929 Pusher in the Face Short film
Where East Is East Mme. de Sylva
1930 Liliom Mme. Muscat
1931 Cimarron Dixie Lee
Street Scene Mrs. Anna Maurrant
The Unholy Garden Eliza Mowbray
1932 The Western Limited Doris
Call Her Savage Ruth Springer
1935 Frisco Kid Undetermined role Uncredited
1939 Bachelor Mother Undetermined role Uncredited
1945 The Southerner Lizzie

References[edit]

  1. ^ Estelle Taylor in The Silent Collection by Tammy Stone
  2. ^ Estelle Taylor biodata
  3. ^ "Harvey D Taylor - United States Census, 1900". FamilySearch. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Obituary - Bertha Boylan". Variety. August 26, 1965. 
  5. ^ "Ida Labertha Or Labertha Barrett mentioned in the record of Fred T. Krech and Ida Labertha Or Labertha Barrett". FamilySearch. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Helena G Taylor - United States Census, 1900". FamilySearch. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  7. ^ Schallert, Edwin and Elza (October 1923). "Hollywood High Lights". Picture-Play Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  8. ^ Schallert, Edwin and Elza (April 1924). "Hollywood High Lights". Picture-Play Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Estella Barrett - United States Census, 1910". FamilySearch. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "Estelle Taylor, Silent Film Charmer, Dies". The Deseret News. INS. April 15, 1958. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  11. ^ "New York Accepts Estelle As Real Star". The Sunday Morning Star. January 9, 1921. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Estelle Taylor Dies; Cancer Victim, 58". The Lewiston Daily Sun. Associated Press. April 16, 1958. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Estelle Taylor Gets First Rank In New William Fox Picture". The Sunday Morning Star. August 13, 1922. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Taylor Dempsey, Estelle; (as told to) Barker, Lillian (February 21, 1926). "Not Beauty But Personality, Intelligence and Determination Win Success in Movies". The Sunday Morning Star. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Review: ‘Don Juan’". Variety. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Theater Gossip". The Evening Independent. January 22, 1927. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  17. ^ The Big Fight a Broadway play produced at the Majestic Theatre, September 18, 1928 – October 1928; IBDb.com
  18. ^ "Dempsey's Matrimonial Plans Continue Hazy". The Palm Beach Post. January 10, 1925. 
  19. ^ "Jack Dempsey Married (newsreel)". British Pathé. February 25, 1925. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Estelle Taylor - Hollywood Star Walk - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 27, 2015. 

External links[edit]