Helene Chadwick

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Helene Chadwick
Chadwick in 1921
Born (1897-11-25)November 25, 1897
Chadwicks, New York,
United States
Died September 4, 1940(1940-09-04) (aged 42)
Los Angeles, California,
United States
Other names Helen Chadwick
Occupation Actress
Years active 1916–1937
Spouse(s) William A. Wellman (July 1918–September 5, 1923)

Helene Chadwick (November 25, 1897 – September 4, 1940) was an American actress in silent and in early sound film.

Early life and career[edit]

Chadwick was born in the small town of Chadwicks, New York, which was named for her grandfather. Her mother was a singer who performed on the stage and her father was a business man.

She began making films for Pathe Pictures in Manhattan, New York. A director was impressed by Chadwicks's talent as an equestrian, thus she began acting as a western star but this did not continue with the exodus of film production from the east to the west coast. Signed by Samuel Goldwyn, Chadwick went to California in 1913 and entered silent movies in 1916. She was a star from 1920 through 1925. At the pinnacle of her acting career, she earned a salary estimated to have been $2,000 per week. From 1929 until 1935, she found success as a character actress when sound was being introduced to films.

In the final five years of her life she was reduced to taking roles as an extra, playing "atmospheric parts". She was always optimistic that her fortunes would turn for the better. Helene made movies with Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, and other studios.

Her most noteworthy performances came in Heartsease (1919), The Long Arm of the Manister (1919), The Cup of Fury (1920), Godless Men (1920), Dangerous Curve Ahead (1921), From The Ground Up (1921), Yellow Men and Gold (1922), Dust Flower (1922), The Sin Flood (1922), The Glorious Fool (1922), and Quicksands (1923).

Personal life and death[edit]

In January 1919, Chadwick became engaged to Lieutenant William A. Wellman, an American pilot with the Lafayette Flying Corps. He had just returned from France and was cited for bravery for his valor in World War I. The couple had met at a party at the house of a friend. Wellman was signed to play a prominent role in an upcoming movie with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. The couple wed in July 1921, but in the summer of 1923, Chadwick sued Wellman for divorce on grounds of desertion and nonsupport. At the time of their separation William was directing movies for Fox Film. Wellman directed Wings, the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as many other notable films.

Helene Chadwick died at St. Vincent's Hospital, Los Angeles, California, aged 42, in 1940. Her death was indirectly the result of an accident she suffered in June 1939. She stumbled over a chair and sustained injuries to her left side and eye. Doctors said her illness was exacerbated by "her highly nervous state."[citation needed]

Her funeral was conducted by Pierce Brothers Mortuary and attended by stage and screen friends.

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1916 The Challenge Alberta Bradley
1917 Vengeance Is Mine Marion De Long
1918 The Naulahka Kate Sheriff
1918 The Yellow Ticket Miss Seaton
1919 Girls Kate West
1919 Caleb Piper's Girl Mary Piper
1919 An Adventure in Hearts Countess D'Orano
1920 Godless Men Ruth Lytton
1920 Scratch My Back Madeline
1921 Dangerous Curve Ahead Phoebe Mabee
1921 Made in Heaven
1921 From the Ground Up Philena Mortimer
1922 Brothers Under the Skin Millie Craddock
1923 Gimme Fanny Daniels
1924 The Masked Dancer Betty Powell
1924 Why Men Leave Home Irene Emerson
1925 The Golden Cocoon Molly Shannon
1926 Pleasures of the Rich Mary Wilson Lost; trailer survives Library of Congress
1926 Wise Guys Prefer Brunettes Helene
1927 Stage Kisses Fay Leslie
1928 Say It With Sables Helen Caswell Lost film
1928 Modern Mothers Adele Dayton
1929 Father and Son Miss White
1930 Men Are Like That Clara Fisher Hyland
1931 Hell Bound Sanford's Sister
1932 Night World Night Club Customer Uncredited
1933 Merrily Yours Mrs. Rogers
1934 School for Girls Larson
1935 Another Face Nurse Daniels Uncredited
Alternative title: It Happened in Hollywood
1936 San Francisco Uncredited
1937 A Star Is Born Woman at preview Uncredited


  • The Los Angeles Times, "Flashes, Picture Star To Wed", January 11, 1919, Page II3.
  • The Los Angeles Times, "She Could Ride", October 15, 1922, Page III30.
  • The Los Angeles Times, "Film Star Seeks Divorce", July 24, 1923, Page II1.
  • The Los Angeles Times, "Former Star of Films Dies", September 6, 1940, Page A1.
  • The Los Angeles Times, "Helene Chadwick Paid Last Honor", September 8, 1940, Page A2.
  • The Oakland Tribune, "Cinema Close-Ups", June 3, 1923, Page 92.

External links[edit]