Ralston in the 1930s
September 17, 1902
Bar Harbor, Maine, U.S.
|Died||January 14, 1994
Ventura, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Spouse(s)||George Webb (m. 1926–34)
Will Morgan (m. 1935–38)
Ted Lloyd (m. 1939–54)
|Relatives||Howard Ralston (brother)
Bob Ralston (nephew)
Early life and career
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Ralston was born Esther Worth in Bar Harbor, Maine,[a] one of five siblings. She was the older sister of actor Howard Ralston (July 25, 1904, Bar Harbor, Maine – June 1, 1992, Los Angeles, California), who appeared in nine films between 1920-24.
She began her career as a child actress in a family vaudeville act which was billed as "The Ralston Family with Baby Esther, America's Youngest Juliet". From this, she appeared in a few small silent film roles including a role alongside her brother in the 1920 film adaptation of Huckleberry Finn. Ralston later gained attention as Mrs. Darling in the 1924 film version of Peter Pan.
In the late 1920s she appeared in many films for Paramount, at one point earning as much as $8000 a week, and garnering much popularity, especially in Britain. She appeared mainly in comedies, often portraying spirited society girls, but received good reviews for her forays into dramatic roles.
Retirement and later years
Despite making a successful transition to sound, she was mainly relegated to supporting roles by the mid-1930s. Her last leading role was in To the Last Man in 1933, directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Randolph Scott. Ralston made her final film, Tin Pan Alley, in 1940 and chose to retire from films. She continued working on the stage and in radio throughout the 1940s, including being the leading lady for part of the run of Woman of Courage
She returned to the screen in the early 1950s with guest roles on television series including Kraft Television Theatre and Tales of Tomorrow. In 1962, she had a leading role in the short-lived daytime drama, Our Five Daughters, her final onscreen role. In 1985, Ralston released her autobiography, Some Day We'll Laugh.
- First marriage
On December 25, 1925, Ralston married her manager, the actor George Webb Frey (1897–1943) in Manhattan, New York. He was credited in films as George Webb. They had a daughter, Mary Esther (born 1931), who, at birth was known as the "$100,000 Baby" because her mother turned down a substantial film contract while pregnant. George and Esther divorced in 1934. George filed for bankruptcy in Los Angeles in March 1934.
- Second marriage
On June 16, 1935, Ralston married actor Will Morgan (né Wilburt Whitfield Morgan), then a former New York stage actor and singer. They divorced in 1938. Morgan led the saxophone section for eight years for Fred Waring.
- Third marriage
On August 6, 1939, Ralston married radio announcer and columnist Ted Lloyd (né Theodore Allen Lloyd; 1915–1961) in Greenwich, Connecticut. Music publisher Jack Robbins (né John Jacob Robbins; 1894–1959) was Lloyd's best man. The couple had two children, Judy (born 1942) and Ted, Jr. (born 1943). Ted and Esther divorced in 1954. Before marrying Ralston, Lloyd had worked for newspapers and a trade magazine, Radio News. In 1942, Lloyd became director of radio for 20th Century Fox. In 1946, with Hal Horne and Armand Deutsch, Lloyd formed Ted Lloyd, Inc., to manage personalities and to produce radio (later, TV) programs. He produced several radio dramas, including My True Story for the NBC Red Network, Adventures of the Abbotts on NBC Red Network (18 episodes in 1955), Whispering Streets for CBS Radio, and Escape for CBS-TV.
|1915||The Deep Purple||Bit, extra...as an Angel||uncredited (debut film)|
|1918||For Husbands Only||Bit part||Uncredited
|1920||Huckleberry Finn||Mary Jane Wilks|
|1921||The Kid||Extra in Heaven Scene||Uncredited|
|1922||The Lone Hand|
|1922||Oliver Twist||Rose Maylie|
|1923||The Phantom Fortune||Mary Rogers|
|1923||Blinky||Mary Lou Kileen|
|1923||The Wild Party||Bess Furth|
|1924||The Marriage Circle||Miss Hofer|
|1924||The Heart Buster||Rose Hillyer|
|1924||Wolves of the North||Madge Chester|
|1924||Peter Pan||Mrs. Darling|
|1925||A Kiss for Cinderella||Fairy Godmother|
|1925||The Best People||Alice O'Neil||Lost film|
|1926||The American Venus||Mary Gray||Lost film|
|1927||Children of Divorce||Jean Waddington|
|1927||Ten Modern Commandments||Donna Latour||Lost film|
|1928||Love and Learn||Nancy Blair||Lost film|
|1928||Half a Bride||Patience Winslow|
|1929||The Case of Lena Smith||Lena Smith||Short film
|1929||The Wheel of Life||Ruth Dangan|
|1931||Lonely Wives||Madeline Smith|
|1932||Rome Express||Asta Marvelle|
|1932||After the Ball||Elissa Strange|
|1933||To the Last Man||Ellen Colby||Alternative title: Law of Vengeance|
|1933||By Candlelight||Baroness von Ballin|
|1934||Sadie McKee||Dolly Merrick|
|1934||The Marines Are Coming||Dorothy Manning|
|1935||Ladies Crave Excitement||Miss Winkler|
|1935||Shadows of the Orient||Viola Avery|
|1935||Streamline Express||Elaine Vincent|
|1936||Hollywood Boulevard||Flora Moore|
|1936||We're in the Legion Now!||Louise Rillette|
|1937||As Good as Married||Miss Danforth|
|1937||Jungle Menace||Valerie Shield||Chapters 1,3,6,7,15|
|1937||The Mysterious Pilot||Vivian McNain||Chapters 10-11|
|1938||Letter of Introduction||Mrs. Sinclair||Uncredited|
|1938||Slander House||Ruth De Milo|
|1940||Tin Pan Alley||Nora Bayes|
|1952||Kraft Television Theatre||Episode: "September Tide"|
|1952||Tales of Tomorrow||The Collector||Episode: "All the Time in the World"|
|1953||Broadway Television Theatre||Mrs. Bancroft||Episode: "The Noose"|
|1962||Our Five Daughters||Helen Lee|
- Esther Ralston on IMDb
- Coons, Robbin (October 15, 1940). "Former Star Is Satisfied To Play Bits". Toledo Blade. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, Oxford University Press; ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3, pg. 726.
- Mayne, Judith (1994). Directed by Dorothy Arzner. Indiana University Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-253-20896-3.
- Thomas, Dan (March 4, 1929). "Home Wins Esther Ralston". San Jose News. p. 4. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Esther Ralston, Filmstar of Yesteryear, Enjoys Active and Happy Live in Salem," by Beatrice McKinney, Times Record (Troy, New York), June 10, 1970, pg. 38
- "Esther Ralston Wins Divorce for Cruelty". The Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal. March 6, 1934. p. 12. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "George Webb Frey Files Bankruptcy, Hollywood," Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), March 23, 1934
- "Breaks Her Splice". The Leader-Post. May 10, 1938. p. 6. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Actress Esther Ralston Wed to Ted Lloyd, Radio Man". The Milwaukee Journal. August 7, 1939. p. 2. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Esther Ralston on IMDb
- Collins, Glenn (January 27, 1994). "Esther Ralston, 91, A Featured Actress Of Silent-Film Era". nytimes.com. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Hollywood Star Walk". latimes.com. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
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