Grace Darmond

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Grace Darmond
Grace Darmond from Stars of the Photoplay.jpg
Publicity photo of Darmond from Stars of the Photoplay (1916)
Born Grace Glionna
(1893-11-20)November 20, 1893
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died October 8, 1963(1963-10-08) (aged 69)
Los Angeles, California
Years active 1914-1927
Spouse(s) Henry J. Matson (1926)
Randolph Jennings (1928-?)
Partner(s) Jean Acker (1918-?)
A Temperance Town (1916)

Grace Darmond (November 20, 1893[1] – October 8, 1963) was a Canadian-born American actress from the early 20th century.[2]

Early life[edit]

Grace Darmond was born Grace Glionna[3] in Toronto on November 20, 1893. Her parents were James Glionna, a U.S.-born musician who had lived in Canada since 1877, and Alice Glionna, an Ontario native.[4]


Darmond was active onscreen between 1914 and 1927.[5] She starred in the first Technicolor film, The Gulf Between (1917), with actor Niles Welch. The film premiered on September 13 in Boston and on September 21 at the Aeolian Hall in New York City. However, when the film went into limited release in early 1918 on a tour of Eastern U. S. cities, it was a critical and commercial failure. The early Technicolor process ("System 1") was an additive color process which required a special projector, and which suffered from "fringing" and "haloing" of colors.[6]

Darmond was pretty, slender, and starred in many notable films of the period, but never was able to break through as a leading actress in big budget films. Most of her roles were in support of bigger names of the time, and most of her starring roles were smaller, lesser known films. She appeared in Below the Surface (1920), in which she starred with Hobart Bosworth and Lloyd Hughes,[7] and that same year she played in A Dangerous Adventure, produced and directed by Warner Brothers.[8] This led to her being cast alongside Boris Karloff in the mystery thriller The Hope Diamond Mystery (1921).[9] In the July edition of Motion Picture Magazine, she was featured in an article by Joan Tully entitled "Mantled With Shyness (A Word Portrait of Grace Darmond)".[10]


Darmond was reportedly lesbian. Although performing in a substantial number of films over roughly 13 years, she was known in Hollywood's inner circle as the lesbian lover to actress Jean Acker, the first wife of actor Rudolph Valentino. She was also associated, as many struggling actresses of the day were, with the actress Alla Nazimova, who was the former lover to Acker, although it has never been verified that Nazimova and Darmond were ever linked romantically. She and Acker attended parties at Nazimova's Garden of Allah, an imposing house named punningly after a Robert Smythe Hichens play Nazimova had appeared in.[11]

She and Jean Acker met in 1918, and became lovers shortly thereafter. Acker met relatively unknown actor Valentino only a few months later, at a party at Nazimova's home. She and Valentino began dating, but reportedly never had sexual relations. They married in 1919, but on their wedding night, Acker fled the house and ran to Darmond's home, stating that it was she that she loved.[12] The marriage is alleged to have never been consummated, and Acker filed for a legal separation in 1921, and later filed charges of bigamy against Valentino when he married designer Natacha Rambova in Mexico later on.[13]

Darmond and Acker reportedly remained lovers through most of the 1920s. Her last most notable film was Wide Open (1927), starring Lionel Belmore and Dick Grace. When the advent of talkies came about, Darmond, like so many actresses and actors from the silent film era, was not able to make a successful transition. She ended her acting career, and for the most part disappeared from the public eye until her death in 1963.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ 1901 Census of Canada, 118 Toronto West, Ontario, page 6.
  2. ^ National Cowboy Museum website
  3. ^ Ankerich, Michael G. Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers and Misfortunes of 14 Hard-Luck Girls of the Silent Screen. BearManor Media, 2010.
  4. ^ 1901 Census of Canada, 118 Toronto West, Ontario, page 6.
  5. ^
  6. ^ UKOnline entry
  7. ^ Grapevine Video website
  8. ^ SilentEra entry
  9. ^ Serials Squadron website
  10. ^ Sunrises Silents website
  11. ^ The Old Dyke website
  12. ^
  13. ^

External links[edit]