Florence Reed

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Florence Reed
Florence Reed 01.JPG
Theatre Magazine, (February, 1921)
Born (1883-01-10)January 10, 1883
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died November 21, 1967(1967-11-21) (aged 84)
East Islip, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1904-1960
Spouse(s) Malcolm Williams (1908–1937; his death)
Parent(s) Roland Reed
Joana Sommer Reed
Isadore Rush (stepmother)

Florence Reed (January 10, 1883 – November 21, 1967) was an American stage and film actress. She is remembered for several outstanding stage productions, including The Shanghai Gesture, The Lullaby, The Yellow Ticket and The Wanderer. Her best remembered movie role was as Miss Havisham in the 1934 production of Great Expectations. In this version, however, Miss Havisham was changed from a completely insane woman to an eccentric, who did not wear her wedding veil constantly, and who dies peacefully rather than as a result of suffering burns in a fire. In the 1950s Reed performed in several early television shows, such as The Philco Television Playhouse, Kraft Television Theatre and The United States Steel Hour.[1]She is a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Reed was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to comedy actor Roland Lewis Reed (1857–1900)[3] and his wife, Joanna (née Sommer) Reed (died 1927).[4][5] Her grandfather was John "Pop" Reed, a manager of the old Walnut Street Theatre, who donated his skull to be performed in future theatrical versions of Hamlet.

Her father died in 1901 when Florence was 18 years old. Afterward she and her mother came to New York City to seek a career in the theater. She made her first appearance on the stage at Proctor's Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York in 1904 where she gave a monologue by George M. Cohan. She stayed with the Fifth Avenue Theater for years honing her craft. She also trouped the country with May Irwin in The Widow Jones and played Ophelia to E. H. Sothern's Hamlet. Reed appeared with John Barrymore in The Yellow Ticket (1914) which proved a popular play of the season. Her biggest stage success was as Mother Goddam in The Shanghai Gesture (1926).[citation needed]

Motion pictures[edit]

Reed started making movies in the silent era around 1915. She was a stage star by then and her first movie was The Dancing Girl for Adolph Zukor's Famous Players studio built around her talents. She also made films for several different production companies such as Popular Plays & Players, Astra, Arrow, Tribune, and Pathé. In all Reed made 15 silent pictures, the last being The Black Panther's Cub (1921). After 13 years she made her first talking film in Great Expectations (1934). She made two more films but preferred the theater.[6]


Wives of Men (1918)

Silent films


Personal life[edit]

Reed was married to actor Malcolm Williams from February 1908 until his death in 1937. They often appeared in stage productions together. They had no children. She died on November 21, 1967.

She was interred in the same burial plot with her good friend, actress Blanche Yurka, in the Actors Fund of America section of Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York.

Florence Reed and Blanche Yurka burial plot, with apparently wrong year of birth for Reed, and missing birth info altogether for Yurka


  1. ^ Florence Reed - North American Theatre Online site offered to most colleges and universities for free
  2. ^ Hall of Fame Official site members list accessed 12/25/2016
  3. ^ Roland Reed;findagrave.com
  4. ^ GREAT STARS OF THE AMERICAN STAGE by Daniel Blum c. 1952 Profile #73
  5. ^ Johanna (neé Sommer) Reed; findagrave.com Retrieved October 7, 2016
  6. ^ Florence Reed at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]