Fritzi Ridgeway

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Fritzi Ridgeway
Fritzi Ridgeway 1924 crop.jpg
Ridgeway in 1924
Born Fredricka Berneice Hawkes
(1898-04-08)April 8, 1898
Missoula, Montana, U.S.
Died March 29, 1961(1961-03-29) (aged 62)
Lancaster, California, U.S.
  • Actress
  • hotelier
Years active 1916–1934
Spouse(s) Constantin Bakaleinikoff (m. 1925)
Walter D. Simm

Fredericka Berneice 'Fritzi' Ridgeway (April 8, 1898 – March 29, 1961)[1] was an American silent film actress, vaudeville performer, and hotelier. Though she starred in numerous films, she is perhaps best known for her work in silent Western films.

A native of Montana, Ridgeway worked as both a vaudeville performer and a professional trick rider before making her film debut in 1916. She appeared in 63 films between 1916 and 1934, with prominent roles in Western films populating much of her early career. Other notable roles include supporting parts in Tod Browning's drama The Unpainted Woman (1919) and The Enemy (1927).

Ridgeway officially retired from acting in 1934, making her final screen appearance in Rouben Mamoulian's We Live Again. She would spend the latter half of her life managing the Hotel del Tahquitz in Palm Springs, California, a hotel she built in 1928. She remained the proprietor of the Hotel del Tahquitz until her death in 1961.[2][3] She was married to Russian composer Constantin Bakaleinikoff. In L.A. Exposed: Strange Myths and Curious Legends in the City of Angels, historian Paul Young noted Ridgeway as an "iconoclastic silent film star."[4]

Early life[edit]

Ridgeway was born Frederick Berneice Hawkes on April 8, 1898 in Missoula, Montana,[5][6][7] later moving with her family to Butte, Montana, where she attended primary school.[8][9] Prior to establishing herself as a film actress, Ridgeway worked as both a vaudeville performer and as a trick rider.[8] As a teenager, Ridgeway traveled with her family between Montana and California, and attended Hollywood High School in Los Angeles.[10] She was also educated in Chicago.[10]


Early films[edit]

She made her film debut in the short The Bridesmaid's Secret (1916), and appeared the following year in her first feature film role in the Western The Hero of the Hour (1917). Ridgeway would appear in several silent Western shorts after, including The Wrong Man (1917) and The Soul Herder (1917). Her appearances in Westerns earned her the name of the "cowgirl star" early in her career.[11] She appeared as Evelyn Hastings in the 1917 picture The Learnin' of Jim Benton opposite Roy Stewart, and was noted in a review for her "delightful" performance in the film.[12]

In 1919, Ridgeway appeared in Victor Schertzinger's comedy When Doctors Disagree, followed by a supporting part in Tod Browning's drama The Unpainted Woman (1919) for Universal Pictures.[13] She would continue to play in silent pictures into the late 1920s, including roles in the drama The Old Homestead (1922), the Western Ruggles of Red Gap (1923), and the drama The Enemy (1927), opposite Lillian Gish.[14]

Later work and retirement[edit]

In 1932, she appeared in Ladies of the Big House, which received positive critical acclaim with a review in The New York Times noting: "the film manages to convey this terror with a fair measure of success."[15] In 1934, she appeared in a supporting part in the horror film House of Mystery (1934) opposite Verna Hillie and John Sheehan.[16] Ridgeway made her final screen appearance in a minor uncredited role in We Live Again (1934),[17] an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's Resurrection, before retiring from acting.

Ridgefield spent her remaining years managing the Hotel del Tahquitz, a 100-room hotel which she had built in Palm Springs, California in 1928.[3][18]

Personal life[edit]

Ridgeway married Russian composer Constantin Bakaleinikoff in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 23, 1925.[19] In March 1928, Ridgeway commissioned architect Anthony Miller to design a home for her, which was built in Los Angeles, California.[20] She would later marry Walter D. Simm, whom she remained married to until her death of a heart attack in 1961.[21]

She is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.[22]


Year Title Role Notes
1916 The Bridesmaid's Secret Hazel Field Short film
1917 Where Glory Waits Scylla Short film
1917 The Hero of the Hour Mildred Nebeker
1917 A Blissful Calamity Annie Smith Short film; as Fritzie Ridgeway
1917 The Wrong Man Anice Malone Short film
1917 High Speed Susan
1917 The Soul Herder Jane Short film
1917 The Calendar Girl Mazie As Fritzie Ridgeway
1917 Up or Down? Esther Hollister
1917 The Learnin' of Jim Benton Evelyn Hastings
1918 The Law's Outlaw Rose Davison
1918 Real Folks Joyce Clifton
1918 Faith Endurin' Helen Dryer
1918 The Danger Zone Marie Fitzmaurice As Fritzie Ridgeway
1918 The Fire Flingers Ellen As Fritzie Ridgeway
1919 When Doctors Disagree Violet Henny
1919 The Unpainted Woman Edna As Fritzie Ridgeway[13]
1919 The Petal on the Current Cora Kinealy As Fritzie Ridgeway
1919 Winning a Bride Mary Pendleton
1920 Judy of Rogue's Harbor Olive Ketchel
1921 Bring Him In Mary Mackay
1921 The Fatal 30 [23]
1922 The Hate Trail Mary Munger
1922 Boomerang Justice Ruth Randolph
1922 The Old Homestead Ann
1923 Trifling with Honor Ida Hunt
1923 The Cricket on the Heart Bertha Plummer
1923 Ruggles of Red Gap Emily Judson
1927 Nobody's Widow Mademoiselle Renée
1927 Man Bait Gloria
1927 Getting Gertie's Garter Barbara Felton
1927 Girl in the Rain
1927 Lonesome Ladies Dorothy
1927 Face Value Muriel Stanley
1927 The Enemy Mitzi Winkelmann
1928 Flying Romeos Minnie
1928 Son of the Golden West Rita
1928 Red Hot Speed Slavey
1929 This Is Heaven Mamie Chase
1930 Hell's Heroes Mother
1930 Prince of Diamonds Lolah
1931 The Mad Parade Prudence Graham
1931 Ladies of the Big House Reno Maggie
1932 Frisco Jenny Miss Jessie Uncredited
1934 House of Mystery Stella Walker
1934 Little Man, What Now? Party Guest Uncredited
1934 No Ransom Miss Price
1934 We Live Again Redhead Uncredited



  1. ^ "California Death Index, 1940-1997," database, FamilySearch ( : 26 November 2014), Fredrick B Simm, 28 Mar 1961; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.
  2. ^ Wild 2011, p. 128.
  3. ^ a b Lech 2005, pp. 20; 300; 373.
  4. ^ Young 2002, p. 99.
  5. ^ While Robert Emmet Sherwood in The Best Moving Pictures of 1922–23, Also Who's who in the Movies and the Yearbook of the American Screen (1923) writes that Ridgeway was born in Butte, published sources list Ridgeway's birthdate as April 8, 1898 in Missoula, Montana. See: Rainey (1992), and Vazzana (2001).
  6. ^ Rainey 1992, p. 214.
  7. ^ Vazzana 2001, p. 444.
  8. ^ a b Thornton, Tracy (April 30, 2000). "Morgue dust". Montana Standard. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Popular Players Provide Entertainment in a Variety of Local Pictures". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. April 27, 1930. p. 59. 
  10. ^ a b Sanchez 1930, p. 192.
  11. ^ "Oil Gusher Caught in "Real Folks"". Motography. 19 (1–26): 313. February 16, 1918. 
  12. ^ Rockwell, Helen (December 15, 1917). ""The Learnin' of Jim Benton": Triangle Picture with Roy Stewart. Released December 9". Motography: 1263. 
  13. ^ a b "Abbreviated view of The Unpainted Woman". The American Film Institute. Retrieved December 30, 2016. 
  14. ^ Klepper 2005, p. 463.
  15. ^ A.D.S. (January 1, 1932). "Women in Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2017. 
  16. ^ Senn 1996, p. 447.
  17. ^ Jacobs 1994, p. 485.
  18. ^ "Commercial Development Between the Wars (1919-1941)". City of Palm Springs. City of Palm Springs Citywide Historic Context Statement & Survey Findings. October 13, 2015. pp. 121–178. 
  19. ^ Sanchez 1930, p. 191.
  20. ^ Mallory 2011, p. 62.
  21. ^ "Final Homestead in the Angeles National Forest". Captain Loomis and the Loomis Ranch. Stephen Thomas. 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Fredricka Berneice Ridgeway Simm". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 9, 2017. 
  23. ^ Langman 2009, p. 87.


  • Jacobs, Diane (1994). Christmas in July: The Life and Art of Preston Sturges (reprint ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-08928-0. 
  • Klepper, Robert K. (2005). Silent Films, 1877-1996: A Critical Guide to 646 Movies (updated ed.). McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-42164-0. 
  • Langman, Larry (2009). The Media in the Movies: A Catalog of American Journalism Films, 1900-1996. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-44091-7. 
  • Lech, Steve (2005). Resorts of Riverside County. Charleston, SC: Arcadia. ISBN 978-0-73853-0-789. OCLC 62790503. 
  • Mallory, Mary (2011). Hollywoodland. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-738-57478-3. 
  • Rainey, Buck (1992). Sweethearts of the Sage: Biographies and Filmographies of 258 Actresses Appearing in Western Movies. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-899-50565-7. 
  • Sanchez, Nellie Van de Grift (1930). Hunt, Rockwell Dennis, ed. California and Californians. 4. Lews Publishing Company. 
  • Senn, Bryan (1996). Golden Horrors: An Illustrated Critical Filmography of Terror Cinema, 1931-1939. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-40175-8. 
  • Vazzana, Eugene Michael (2001). Silent Film Necrology. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-41059-0. 
  • Wild, Peter (2011). Heiress of Doom: Lois Kellogg of Palm Springs. Tucson, AZ: Estate of Peter Wild. OCLC 748583736. 
  • Young, Paul (2002). L.A. Exposed: Strange Myths and Curious Legends in the City of Angels. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-20646-8. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Doyle, Billy H. (1995). Slide, Anthony, ed. The Ultimate Directory of the Silent Screen Performers: A Necrology of Births and Deaths and Essays on 50 Lost Players. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-810-82958-9. 
  • Langman, Larry (1992). A Guide to Silent Westerns. Greenwood. ISBN 978-0-313-27858-7. 

External links[edit]