Helen Gardner (actress)
Helen Louise Gardner
September 2, 1884
Binghamton, New York, U.S.
|Died||November 20, 1968 (aged 84)|
Orlando, Florida, U.S.
|Other names||Miss Garnder|
|Alma mater||American Academy of Dramatic Arts|
|Occupation||Actor, producer, writer, editor, costumer|
Duncan Clarkson Pell, Sr.
(m. 1902; died 1964)
Helen Louise Gardner (September 2, 1884 – November 20, 1968) was an American stage and film actress, screenwriter, producer, editor and costume designer.
Gardner was born in Binghamton, New York. An alumna of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Gardner began her acting career as a stage actress. She became a Vitagraph Studios player in 1910 and earned critical acclaim for portraying Becky Sharp in the film version of the novel Vanity Fair. In 1912, she became the first film actor, male or female, to form her own production company, the Helen Gardner Picture Players in Tappan, New York with capital provided by her mother. Hiring her lover Charles L. Gaskill as a director and scenarist, she produced eleven feature films before closing her studio in 1914. She was known for her portrayals of strong female characters. Her first production was Cleopatra (1912) which was one of the first American full-length films. The film was re-edited and re-released after Fox released the 1917 adaptation starring Theda Bara. Gardner was considered the screen's first vamp and predated Theda Bara, Valeska Suratt and Louise Glaum in roles of this type.
Before Gardner embarked on an acting career, she married socially prominent businessman Duncan Clarkson Pell, Sr., on October 16, 1902, in West Haven, Connecticut. The marriage took place shortly after Gardner's 18th birthday and one week after Pell's divorce from his first wife, Anna. Duncan and Anna Pell's divorce was covered in the gossip columns of The New York Times. The couple had one child. Gardner left Pell in 1906 to continue her acting career but they never divorced. They remained married until Pell's death in 1964.
Some sources state that Gardner married for a second time to Charles Gaskill, the director of many of her films. Gardner's granddaughter and biographer, Dorin Gardner Schumacher, states that this is incorrect and that Gardner never divorced Duncan C. Pell, Sr.
Later years and death
|1910||How She Won Him||Muriel Hanson|
|1911||A Tale of Two Cities||Uncredited|
|1911||The Inherited Taint||The nurse|
|1911||The Wooing of Winifred||Winifred|
|1911||The Show Girl||Audrey, an actress|
|1911||For Her Brother's Sake||Bessie Black - the Sister|
|1911||Barriers Burned Away||John's wife|
|1911||A Quaker Mother||Lois Pearson Harmon - A Quaker Wife|
|1911||She Came, She Saw, She Conquered||Rose Leigh - a Young Schoolteacher|
|1911||The Death of King Edward III||Alice Ferrers|
|1911||For Love and Glory||Rose Seaton|
|1911||By Woman's Wit||The wife|
|1911||Ups and Downs||The Young Wife|
|1911||Regeneration||Elfie - Ross' sweetheart|
|1911||Madge of the Mountains||Madge of the Mountains|
|1911||Arbutus||The Mountain Woman|
|1911||The Girl and the Sheriff||The Mountain Girl|
|1911||Vanity Fair||Becky Sharp|
|1911||A Reformed Santa Claus||The Widow|
|1912||Where the Money Went||Mrs. Fred Hart - the Jealous Wife|
|1912||She Came, She Saw, She Conquered||Rose Leigh - a Young Schoolteacher|
|1912||A Problem in Reduction||Mrs. Smartly - a Woman Who Wants to Reduce|
|1912||Her Boy||Sue - Harry's Sweetheart|
|1912||The Love of John Ruskin||The wife|
|1912||The Love of John Ruskin||Mrs. John Ruskin|
|1912||The Old Silver Watch||Credited as Miss Gardner|
|1912||An Innocent Theft||Malcolm's mother|
|1912||An Innocent Theft||Song Bird, a Young Indian|
|1912||The Miracle||Abbasah, the Caliph's Wife|
|1912||The Heart of Esmeralda||Louise Lennox - a Novelist|
|1912||The Party Dress||Lydia Borne|
|1913||Alixe; or, The Test of Friendship||Alixe|
|1913||Vampire of the Desert||Lispeth, Vampire of the Desert|
|1913||The Wife of Cain||Save - the Wife of Cain||Producer|
|1913||A Daughter of Pan||Dusa - a Daughter of Pan||Producer|
|1914||The Girl with the Hole in Her Stocking||Producer|
|1914||Fleur de Lys||Producer|
|1914||And There Was Light||Producer|
|1914||Butterfly||Nancy North - the Butterfly|
|1914||Underneath the Paint||Tryphena Winter|
|1915||The Breath of Araby||Clothilde|
|1915||The Still, Small Voice||Musa|
|1915||Snatched from a Burning Death||Joan Le Grande|
|1915||Miss Jekyll and Madame Hyde||Madeleine Jekyll/Madame Hyde|
|1912||Cleopatra||Cleopatra - Queen of Egypt||Producer, costume designer, editor|
Credited as Miss Gardner
|1913||A Sister to Carmen||Margo||Producer|
|1913||A Princess of Bagdad||Princess Ojira||Producer|
|1914||Pieces of Silver: A Story of Hearts and Souls||Sister Berenice||Producer|
|1914||The Strange Story of Sylvia Gray||Sylvia Gray/Silvery|
|1914||The Moonshine Maid and the Man||Nancy - the Moonshine Maid|
|1920||The Sleep of Cyma Roget||Cymba Roget|
|1924||Sandra||La Flamme's wife|
- Vazzana, Eugene Michael (2001). Silent Film Necrology (2 ed.). McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 189. ISBN 0-786-41059-0.
- Letter from Dorin Schumacher to the New York Times (June 27, 1999)
- Helen Gardner website
- Information about Helen Gardner
- "Marriage Announcement: Gardner-Pell", The New York Times, October 26, 1902
- Wallace Dickinson, Joy. "Few Remember Days When Film Queen Lived Among Us". orlandosentinel.com. p. 1.
- "What's Doing in Society?", The New York Times, January 26, 1904
- Wallace Dickinson, Joy (March 25, 2001). "Early Screen Queen Turns Heads Again". orlandosentinel.com.
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