Ethel Clayton

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Ethel Clayton
Born(1882-11-08)November 8, 1882
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJune 6, 1966(1966-06-06) (aged 83)
Oxnard, California, U.S.
Years active1909–1948
Spouse(s)Joseph Kaufman (his death)
Ian Keith (1928–1931; divorced)

Ethel Clayton (November 8, 1882 – June 6, 1966) was an American actress of the silent film era.


Clayton's screen debut came in 1909, in a short called Justified. She jockeyed her early film appearances with a burgeoning stage career. Her pretty brunette looks were reminiscent of the famous Gibson Girl drawings by Charles Dana Gibson. On the stage she appeared mainly in musicals or musical reviews such as The Ziegfeld Follies of 1911. These musical appearances indicate a singing talent Clayton may have possessed but went unused in her many silent screen performances.

In 1912 she appeared in "The Country Boy" on stage at the Lyceum Theatre in Rochester New York and made her feature-length film debut in For the Love of a Girl. The film was directed by Barry O'Neil. She was cast with Harry Myers, Charles Arthur, and Peter Lang. She was also directed by William Demille, Robert G. Vignola, George Melford, Donald Crisp, Dallas M. Fitzgerald, and Clifford Sanforth. Like many silent film actors Clayton's career was hurt by the coming of sound to motion pictures. She continued her career in small parts in movies until she retired in 1948. Her screen credits number more than 180.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

In 1931, Clayton obtained a California Superior Court order enjoining her former business partner, W.L. Rucker, from disposing of 316 pearls. Clayton and Rucker agreed to purchase a cosmetics business and the pearls had been entrusted to Rucker to raise money. The deal fell through and he refused to return the jewels. Rucker admitted to possessing the pearls but claimed they had been pledged as security for a $125 loan. The pearls were valued at $20,000.[citation needed]


Clayton was first married to actor-director Joseph Kaufman until his death in 1918 in the Spanish Flu epidemic. She later married silent film actor and former star Ian Keith twice and they divorced twice. In both cases Clayton cited cruelty and excessive drinking. Clayton and Keith were first married in Minneapolis in 1928 and first separated on January 13, 1931.


Ethel Clayton died on June 6, 1966 at Guardian Convalescent Hospital[1] in Oxnard, California, aged 83. She was buried at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura, California.

For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Ethel Clayton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Selected filmography[edit]

His Brother's Wife (1916)
The Woman Beneath (1917)
Photograph by Melbourne Spurr, 1922.
Charles K. French and Ethel Clayton in a scene from Beyond (1921)

1909 to 1914[edit]

  • Justified (1909) (*short)
  • Gratitude (1909) (*short)
  • The Brothers (1909) (*short)
  • The Twelfth Juror (1909) (*short)
  • The Tout's Remembrance(1910)(*short)
  • For the Love of a Girl (1912) (*short)
  • A Romance of the Coast (1912) (*short)
  • The Doctor's Debt (1912)
  • The Last Rose of Summer (1912) (*short)
  • Just Maine Folk (1912)
  • An Irish Girl's Love (*short)
  • The Wonderful One-Horse Shay (1912)
  • The Price Demanded (1913)
  • When the Earth Trembled (1913) Extant; restored 2015 by EyeMuseum, Netherlands
  • The Lion and the Mouse (1914)
  • The House Next Door (1914)
  • The Fortune Hunter - (1955)


  • The Attorney for the Defense (*short)
  • The Furnace Man (*short)
  • His Soul Mate (*short)
  • It All Depends (*short)
  • The Millinery Man (*short)
  • A Woman Went Forth (*short)
  • Margie Puts One Over (*short)
  • Here Comes the Bride (*short)
  • The Blessed Miracle (*short)
  • Monkey Business (*short)
  • The Unmarried Husband (*short)
  • Capturing the Cook (*short)
  • Just Look at Jake (*short)
  • The College Widow (*5-6 reels) - Lost
  • In the Dark (*short)
  • The Sporting Duchess (*short)
  • The Darkness Before Dawn (*short)
  • Money! Money! Money! (*short)
  • When the Light Came In (*short)
  • The Earl's Adventure (*short)
  • A Day of Havoc (*short)
  • The Deception (*short)
  • It Was to Be (*short)
  • The Mirror (*short)
  • In Spite of Him (*short)
  • The Orgy (*short)
  • The Great Divide (*5 reels)


  • Ophelia (*short, she'll appear in one more short in 1926)
  • Dollars and the Woman
  • His Brother's Wife
  • A Woman's Way
  • Husband and Wife
  • The Hidden Scar
  • Beyond the Wall
  • The New South
  • Dollars and the Woman


  • The Woman Beneath
  • The Bondage of Fear
  • The Web of Desire
  • Man's Woman
  • Yankee Pluck
  • The Stolen Paradise (incomplete; Library of Congress)
  • Souls Adrift
  • The Dormant Power(*Extant; Filmmuseum Nederlands (EYE) ..)
  • Easy Money







  • Can a Woman Love Twice?
  • The Remittance Woman


  • The Mansion of Aching Hearts
  • Wings of Youth - Lost
  • Lightnin' - Survives


  • The Bar-C Mystery - Lost
  • The Merry Widower (*short, last short of her career) - Survives
  • Sunny Side Up - Survives
  • Risky Business - Survives
  • His New York Wife


1928 to 1947[edit]

See also[edit]


  • The New York Times, "Sues For 316 Pearls", March 26, 1931, Page 56.
  • The New York Times, "Decree To Ethel Clayton", February 27, 1932, Page 20.
  • The New York Times, "Film Couple Re-Divorced", July 20, 1932, Page 20.
  • The New York Times, "Ethel Clayton", June 12, 1966, Page 86.
  1. ^ Oxnard Press Courier. June 6, 1966. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]