Pauline Frederick

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Pauline Frederick
Pauline Frederick, Sarony. 1914.jpg
Frederick in 1914
Pauline Beatrice Libbey

(1883-08-12)August 12, 1883
DiedSeptember 19, 1938(1938-09-19) (aged 55)
Resting placeGrand View Memorial Park Cemetery
Years active1902–1937
(m. 1909; div. 1913)

(m. 1917; div. 1920)

Dr. C.A. Rutherford
(m. 1922; div. 1925)

Hugh C. Leighton
(m. 1930; annulled 1930)

Col. Joseph A. Marmon
(m. 1934; died 1934)
Pauline Frederick Signature - Jun 1918 FF.jpg

Pauline Frederick (born Pauline Beatrice Libbey, August 12, 1883 – September 19, 1938) was an American stage and film actress.

Early life[edit]

Frederick was born Pauline Beatrice Libbey (later changed to Libby) in Boston in 1883 (some sources state 1884 or 1885),[1] the only child of Richard O. and Loretta C. Libbey. Her father worked as a yardmaster for the Old Colony Railroad before becoming a salesman. Her parents separated when she was a toddler and Frederick was raised primarily by her mother to whom she remained close for the remainder of her life (her parents divorced around 1897). As a girl, she was fascinated with show business, and determined early to place her goals in the direction of the theater. She studied acting, singing and dancing at Miss Blanchard's Finishing School in Boston where she later graduated.[2][3]

Her father, however, discouraged her ambitions to be an actress and encouraged her to become an elocution teacher. After pursuing a career as an actress, her father disinherited her (he died in 1922). Due to her father's attitude towards her acting career, Pauline adopted the surname "Frederick" as her stage name.[4] She legally changed her name to Pauline Frederick in 1908.[2]


Pauline Frederick as Potiphar's wife from the play Joseph and His Brethren (1910).

She made her stage debut at the age of 17 as a chorus girl in the farce The Rogers Brothers at Harvard, but was fired shortly thereafter.[4][5] She won other small roles on the stage before being discovered by illustrator Harrison Fisher who called her "the purest American beauty." With Fisher's help, she landed more substantial stage roles. Nicknamed "The Girl with the Topaz Eyes", Frederick was cast in the lead roles in the touring productions of The Little Gray Lady and The Girl in White in 1906. She briefly retired from acting after her first marriage in 1909, but returned to the stage in January 1913 in Joseph and His Brethren.[2][4]

A well-known stage star, Frederick was already in her 30s when she made her film debut in 1915 as Donna Roma in The Eternal City.[6] In March 1927, she received some of her better reviews when she appeared in the play Madame X in London.[4] Frederick was able to make a successful transition to "talkies" in 1929, and was cast as Joan Crawford's mother in This Modern Age (1931). Frederick did not like acting in sound films and returned to Broadway in 1932 in When the Bough Breaks. She would continue the remainder of her career appearing in films and also touring in stage productions in the United States, Europe and Australia.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Frederick's personal life was beset with marital and financial problems. Despite having reportedly made a million dollars for her work in silent films, Frederick filed for bankruptcy in 1933.[4]

Frederick was married five times. In 1909, she married architect Frank Mills Andrews. Frederick then briefly retired from acting after their daughter Pauline was born in 1910, but returned upon divorcing Andrews in 1913.[2] She married her second husband, playwright Willard Mack, on September 27, 1917.[7] They divorced in August 1920.[8] Her third husband was Dr. Charles A. Rutherford, a physician, whom she married in Santa Ana, California in 1922. Frederick filed for divorce in December 1924.[9][10] Their divorce was finalized on January 6, 1925.[11]

It was around this time that the then 43-year-old first met the much younger Clark Gable, then a struggling actor, with whom she allegedly had a two-year affair.[12][13]

Frederick married her fourth husband, millionaire hotel and Interstate News Company owner Hugh Chisholm Leighton (1878-1942) on April 20, 1930 in New York City.[14][15][16] Leighton had the marriage annulled in December 1930 claiming that he was Frederick's husband "in name only".[9] [17]

Frederick's fifth marriage, in January 1934, was to an ailing United States Army colonel, Joseph A. Marmon, commander of the 16th Infantry Regiment.[18] They remained married until Marmon's death on December 4, 1934.[19]


On January 17, 1936, Frederick underwent emergency surgery on her abdomen.[20] Her health steadily declined, which limited her ability to work.[21] She was dealt a further blow when her mother died in 1937.[5]

On September 16, 1938, Frederick suffered an asthma attack. She suffered a second, fatal asthma attack on September 19, 1938 while she was recuperating at her aunt's home in Beverly Hills.[22][5][21] According to her wishes, a private funeral was held on September 23, 1938 in Hollywood,[23] after which she was buried at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.[24]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Pauline Frederick has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.[25]


Ashes of Embers (1916)
The Woman on the Index (1919)
Year Title Role Notes
1915 The Eternal City Donna Roma Lost film
1915 Sold Helen Lost film
1915 Zaza ZaZa Lost film
1915 Bella Donna Bella Donna (Ruby Chepstow) Lost film
1915 Lydia Gilmore Lydia Gilmore Lost film
1916 The Spider Valerie St. Cyr/Joan Marche Lost film
1916 Audrey Audrey Lost film
1916 The Moment Before Madge A 35mm nitrate copy of the film is housed at the Cineteca Nazionale film archive in Rome.[26] The print is missing one sequence described as "the opening scene before the flashback."[27]
1916 The World's Great Snare Myra Lost film
1916 The Woman in the Case Margaret Rolfe
1916 Ashes of Embers Laura Ward/Agnes Ward Lost film
1916 Nanette of the Wilds Nanette Gauntier Lost film
1917 The Slave Market Ramona Lost film
1917 Sapho Sapho, aka Fanny Lagrand Lost film
1917 Sleeping Fires Zelma Bryce Lost film
1917 Her Better Self Vivian Tyler Lost film
1917 The Love That Lives Molly McGill
1917 Double Crossed Eleanor Stratton Lost film
1917 The Hungry Heart Courtney Vaughan Lost film
1918 Mrs. Dane's Defense Felicia Hindemarsh Lost film
1918 Madame Jealousy Madame Jealousy Lost film
1918 La Tosca Floria Tosca Lost film
1918 Resurrection Katusha Lost film
1918 Her Final Reckoning Marsa Lost film
1918 Fedora Princess Fedora Lost film
1918 Stake Uncle Sam to Play Your Hand Miss Liberty Loan Short film
1918 A Daughter of the Old South Dolores Jardine Lost film
1919 Out of the Shadow Ruth Minchin Lost film
1919 The Woman on the Index Sylvia Martin Lost film
1919 Paid in Full Emma Brooks Lost Famous Players-Lasky/ Paramount feature
1919 One Week of Life Mrs. Sherwood & Marion Roche Lost film
1919 The Fear Woman Helen Winthrop Lost film
1919 The Peace of Roaring River Madge Nelson Lost film
1919 Bonds of Love Una Sayre Lost film
1919 The Loves of Letty Letty Shell
1920 The Paliser Case Cassy Cara Lost film
1920 The Woman in Room 13 Laura Bruce Lost film
1920 Madame X Jacqueline Floriot
1920 A Slave of Vanity Iris Bellamy Lost film ...First Robertson-Cole release
1921 The Mistress of Shenstone Lady Myra Ingleby extant; abridged or incomplete
1921 Roads of Destiny Dolly Jordan Lennon Lost film ...Final Goldwyn Pictures release
1921 Salvage Bernice Ridgeway/Kate Martin Lost film
1921 The Sting of the Lash Dorothy Keith Lost film
1921 The Lure of Jade Sara Vincent Lost film
1922 The Woman Breed
1922 Two Kinds of Women Judith Sanford Lost film
1922 The Glory of Clementina Clementina Wing Lost film
1924 Let Not Man Put Asunder Petrina Faneuil Lost film
1924 Married Flirts Nellie Wayne Lost film
1924 Three Women Mrs. Mabel Wilton
1925 Smouldering Fires Jane Vale
1926 Her Honor, the Governor Adele Fenway
1926 Devil's Island Jeannette Picto
1926 Josselyn's Wife Lillian Josselyn Lost film
1927 Mumsie Mumsie Lost film
1927 The Nest Mrs. Hamilton
1928 On Trial Joan Trask Lost film
1929 Evidence Myra Stanhope Lost film
1929 The Sacred Flame Mrs. Taylor - the Mother Lost film
1930 Terra Melophon Magazin Nr. 1 Die Zofe Episode: "Was Ziehe ich an, Bevor ich mich anziehe"
1931 This Modern Age Diane "Di" Winters
1932 Wayward Mrs. Eleanor Frost
1932 The Phantom of Crestwood Faith Andes
1932 Self Defense Katy Devoux
1934 Social Register Mrs. Breene
1935 My Marriage Mrs. DeWitt Tyler II
1936 Ramona Señora Moreno
1937 Thank You, Mr. Moto Madame Chung


  1. ^ Austin, Walter Browne; Frederick Arnold, eds. (1908). Who's Who on the Stage: The Dramatic Reference Book and Biographical Dictionary of the Theatre, Containing Records of the Careers of Actors, Actresses, Managers and Playwrights of the American Stage. B.W. Dodge & Company. p. 180.
  2. ^ a b c d James, Edward T., ed. (1971). Notable American Women 1607–1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 1. Harvard University Press. p. 665. ISBN 0-674-62734-2.
  3. ^ "Pauline Frederick Loyal to Her Divorced Mother". The Newburgh Daily News. September 12, 1922. p. 1. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Pauline Frederick Dies In California". The Montreal Gazette. September 28, 1938. p. 9. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Pauline Frederick Dies After Two Year Illness". The Pittsburgh Press. September 20, 1938. p. 11. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  6. ^ Elwood, Muriel (1940). Pauline Frederick: On and Off The Stage. A. Kroch. p. 60.
  7. ^ "Pauline Frederick Weds". The Baltimore Sun. September 28, 1917. p. 3.
  8. ^ "Actress' Fourth Marriage Ends in Separation". The Meriden Daily Journal. December 19, 1930. p. 11. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Fourth Matrimonial Venture of Pauline Frederick Ended as Husband Gets Separation". The Evening Independent. December 19, 1930. pp. 6–A. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  10. ^ "Pauline Frederick Asks New Divorce". Times Daily. December 16, 1924. p. 1. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  11. ^ "Divorce Is Accorded Film Star". The Los Angeles Times. January 7, 1925. p. A11.
  12. ^ Bret, David (February 6, 2014). Clark Gable: Tormented Star. Aurum Press Limited. pp. 42–43. ISBN 9781781313527. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  13. ^ Spicer, Chrystopher J. (January 15, 2002). Clark Gable: Biography, Filmography, Bibliography. McFarland. p. 49. ISBN 9780786411245. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  14. ^ "Pauline Frederick Marries Leighton". The Newburgh New. April 21, 1930. p. 2. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  15. ^ "Pauline Frederick Is Bride 4th Time". The Border Cities Star. April 22, 1930. p. 8. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  16. ^ "6 May 1930, Page 23 - The Los Angeles Times at".
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-08. Retrieved 2016-06-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Pauline Frederick Becomes Brides of U.S. Army Colonel". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 26, 1934. p. 2. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  19. ^ "Actress' Husband Dies". St. Joseph News-Press. December 4, 1934. p. 8. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  20. ^ "Miss Frederick Gaining After Her Operation". The Los Angeles Times. January 19, 1936. p. A1.
  21. ^ a b "Famed Actress Dies". Berkeley Daily Gazette. September 20, 1938. p. 3. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  22. ^ "Pauline Frederick Dies on the Coast. Stage and Film Actress, Who Made Theatrical Debut Here in 1902, Succumbs at 53". New York Times. September 20, 1938.
  23. ^ "Final Tribute Paid Pauline Frederick". Daily Boston Globe. September 23, 1938. p. 2.
  24. ^ Parish, James Robert (2002). The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More Than 125 American Movie and TV Idols. Chicago: Contemporary Books. p. 393. ISBN 9780809222278.
  25. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk: Pauline Frederick". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  26. ^ "The Moment Before". Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  27. ^ "The Filmography of Pauline Frederick". Greta de Groat, Metadata Librarian for Electronic and Visual Resources, Stanford University.

External links[edit]