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Lou Tellegen in 1916
|Born||Isidore Louis Bernard Edmon van Dommelen
November 26, 1881
|Died||October 29, 1934
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Occupation||Actor, director, screenwriter|
|Years active||1910 – 1934|
|Spouse(s)||Jeanne de Brouckère (m. 1903; div. 1905)
Geraldine Farrar (m. 1916; div. 1920)
Nina Romano (m. 1923; div. 1928)
Eve Casanova (m. 1930; div. 1932)
Born Isidore Louis Bernard Edmon van Dommelen, he was the illegitimate child of army lieutenant Isidore Louis Bernard Edmon Tellegen (1836–1902) and Anna Maria van Dommelen. In addition to 1881 his birth year is sometimes credited as being 1883.
He left his birth town, Sint-Oedenrode, to make his stage debut in Amsterdam in 1903, and over the next few years built a reputation to the point where he was invited to perform in Paris, eventually co-starring in several roles with Sarah Bernhardt, with whom he was involved romantically. In 1910, he made his motion picture debut alongside Bernhardt in La dame aux camélias, a silent film made in France based on the play by Alexandre Dumas, fils.
In 1910, he and Bernhardt travelled to the United States, where The New York Times first published, and then retracted, the announcement of their impending marriage. (She was 37 years his senior.) Back in France, in 1912 they made their second film together, Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth (Queen Elizabeth), and the following year, Adrienne Lecouvreur. The latter is considered a lost film.
In the summer of 1913, Tellegen went to London where he produced and starred in the Oscar Wilde play, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Invited back to the United States, Tellegen worked in theatre and made his first American film in 1915, titled The Explorer, followed by The Unknown, both with Dorothy Davenport as his co-star. Considered one of the best-looking actors on screen, he followed up with three straight films starring opposite Geraldine Farrar. In 1916, he married Farrar, a well-known opera diva turned film actress, who was herself known to be the lover of Germany's Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany.
Tellegen's marriage to Farrar did not last (they divorced in 1920). Tellegen married a total of four times, the first being a sculptress in 1903 (this union produced a daughter), the second to Farrar in 1916. His third marriage was to actress Nina Romano (real name: Isabel Craven Dilworth). His fourth marriage was to silent film star Eve Casanova (real name Julia Horne). He became an American citizen in 1918.
Later career and death
Tellegen appeared in numerous films before his face was damaged in a fire on Christmas Day 1929, when he fell asleep while smoking, preparing for an out-of-town tryout for a play. He had extensive plastic surgery in 1931.
One memorable roles was as the villain in John Ford's Western 3 Bad Men (1926), in which Tellegen wore a white hat instead of the stereotypical black hat. Fame fading, employment not forthcoming, and ridden with debt, he filed for bankruptcy. He was diagnosed with cancer, though this information was kept from him, and he became despondent. In 1931, he wrote his autobiography Women Have Been Kind.
On October 29, 1934, while a guest in the Cudahy Mansion at 1844 North Vine Street in Hollywood (now the site of the Vine-Franklin underpass of the Hollywood Freeway), Tellegen locked himself in the bathroom, then shaved and powdered his face. Then while standing in front of a full-length mirror, he committed suicide by stabbing himself with a pair of sewing scissors seven times (supposedly while surrounded by newspaper clippings of his career), resulting in lurid press coverage.
When asked to comment on Tellegen's death, former wife Geraldine Farrar replied, "Why should that interest me?" Tellegen's remains were cremated and scattered at sea.
|1911||La Dame aux camélias||Armand Duval|
|1912||Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth||Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex||Alternative titles: Queen Elizabeth
La Reine Élisabeth
|1913||Adrienne Lecouvreur||Alternative title: An Actress's Romance|
|1915||The Explorer||Alec McKenzie||Credited as Lou-Tellegen|
|1915||The Unknown||Richard Farquhar|
|1916||The Victory of Conscience||Louis, Count De Tavannes|
|1916||The Victoria Cross||Major Ralph Seton|
|1917||The Black Wolf||The Black Wolf|
|1917||The Long Trail||Andre Dubois|
|1917||What Money Can't Buy||
|1918||The Thing We Love||
|1919||The World and Its Woman||Prince Michael Orbeliana||Alternative title: The Golden Song|
|1919||Flame of the Desert||Sheik Essad|
|1920||The Woman and the Puppet||Don Mateo|
|1924||Let Not Man Put Asunder||Dick Lechmere||Lost film|
|1924||Between Friends||David Drene|
|1924||Single Wives||Martin Prayle|
|1924||The Breath of Scandal||Charles Hale|
|1924||Those Who Judge||John Dawson|
|1924||Greater Than Marriage||John Masters|
|1925||The Redeeming Sin||Lupin|
|1925||Fair Play||Bruce Elliot||Alternative title: The Danger Zone|
|1925||The Verdict||Victor Ronsard|
|1925||After Business Hours||John King|
|1925||The Sporting Chance||Darrell Thorton|
|1925||Parisian Love||Pierre Marcel|
|1925||With This Ring||Rufus Van Buren|
|1925||East Lynne||Sir Francis Levison|
|1926||The Outsider||Anton Ragatzy|
|1926||The Silver Treasure||Sotillo, the Bandit|
|1926||3 Bad Men||Sheriff Layne Hunter|
|1927||Stage Madness||Pieerre Doumier|
|1927||The Princess From Hoboken||Prince Anton Balakrieff|
|1927||The Little Firebrand||Harley Norcross|
|1927||Married Alive||James Duxbury|
|1928||No Other Woman||
|1930||To oneiron tou glyptou||Writer, director
Alternative title: Pygmalion kai Galateia
|1931||Enemies of the Law||Eddie Swan|
|1934||Caravane||Uncredited; French-language version of Fox production Caravan|
|1935||Together We Live||Bischofsky|
- HOLLYWOODLAND "Lou tellegen, the rise and fall of a matinee idol" by Allan Ellenberger, March 7, 2011
- "Lou Tellegen, Idol of Stage and Silent Screen, Stabs Himself Seven Times." Spartanburg (SC) Herald, October 30, 1934, pp. 1-2.
- George H. Beale, "Lou Tellegen, the Gable of Silent Films, Stabs Self to Death to Escape Poverty." Pittsburgh Press, October 30, 1934, p. 1.
- "Lou-Tellegen Now a Citizen". The New York Times. 1918-03-13. p. 9.
- Mankiewicz, Joseph L. (2008). Joseph L. Mankiewicz: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi. p. 61. ISBN 1-934110-24-8.
- "Metropolitan Announcer". Time. 1934-11-12. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale, The Divine Sarah (New York: Vintage Books, 1991.) ISBN 0-679-74185-2
- David W. Menefee, The Rise and Fall of Lou-Tellegen (Menefee Publishing, Inc, 2011). ISBN 978-1-4610-4480-2
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lou Tellegen.|
- Lou Tellegen at the Internet Movie Database
- Lou Tellegen at the Internet Broadway Database
- Extensive biography (Dutch)
- Lou Tellegen photo gallery NYP Library
- Lou Tellegen at Find a Grave