Madge Bellamy
Actor
Madge Bellamy
Madge Bellamy was an American film actress who was a popular leading lady in the 1920s and early 1930s. Her career declined in the sound era, and ended following a romantic scandal in the 1940s.
Biography
Madge Bellamy's personal information overview.
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White Zombie (1932) Review - HorrorMovies.ca
Google News - over 5 years
Madge Bellamy, the lovely actress that portrays Madeleine used to recall that working with Bela Lugosi was pleasant, and that he would often kiss her hand in the mornings on set, while others- such as the Assistant Cameraman Enzo Martinelli claimed
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Google News article
Zombies Running Without Bite - Brutal As Hell
Google News - almost 6 years
Rather, the White Zombie of the title is teeny tiny little Madge Bellamy, a fragile little china doll of a woman whose eyes took up approximately three quarters of her face mass. Her first mistake: moving to Haiti. Second mistake: being pretty
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Google News article
IN SHORT/SMALL PRESSES: NONFICTION
NYTimes - over 26 years
A DARLING OF THE TWENTIES. By Madge Bellamy. (Vestal, Paper, $19.95.) Although her name is now generally unknown, Madge Bellamy was a star of the silent screen. While most of her 57 movies may have been mediocre, and many remain hard to locate or lost forever, a handful possess cult interest, such as "Lorna Doone" or "The Iron Horse," which was
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NYTimes article
Madge Bellamy, 90, 1920's Film Actress
NYTimes - about 27 years
LEAD: Madge Bellamy, an actress who starred in silent films in the 1920's, died on Wednesday at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, Calif. She was 90 years old and lived in Ontario, Calif. Madge Bellamy, an actress who starred in silent films in the 1920's, died on Wednesday at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, Calif. She was 90 years
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NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Madge Bellamy
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1990
    Age 90
    She suffered from chronic heart problems towards the end of her life. On January 10, 1990, she checked into the San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, California for treatment.
    More Details Hide Details She died there of heart failure on January 24 at the age 90. She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Her autobiography, A Darling of the Twenties, was published one month after her death.
  • FORTIES
  • 1946
    Age 46
    She returned to the stage in 1946 in the Los Angeles production of Holiday Lady, after which she retired. Bellamy's only marriage was to bond broker Logan F. Metcalf. They married in Tijuana on January 24, 1928.
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  • 1945
    Age 45
    The shooting and divorce filing generated publicity for Bellamy, but effectively ended her already fading career. She made her last screen appearance in Northwestern film Northwest Trail in 1945.
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  • 1944
    Age 44
    On January 4, 1944, a Nevada court denied Bellamy's divorce suit on the grounds that she and Murphy had never legally been married.
    More Details Hide Details One day after Bellamy's divorce case was dismissed, she was awarded a reported six-figure out-of-court settlement from Murphy.
  • 1943
    Age 43
    In December 1943, Albert Stanwood Murphy asked that the court dismiss the suit, stating that he and Bellamy "are not now and have never been husband and wife".
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    In July 1943, Bellamy sued Murphy for divorce in Las Vegas claiming that she and Murphy were married by "mutual consent" in April 1941 and had lived as husband and wife up until Murphy ended the relationship.
    More Details Hide Details She charged Murphy with "extreme mental cruelty" and asked for both temporary and permanent alimony.
    On February 11, 1943, Bellamy pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of violating a gun law and was given a suspended six-month sentence.
    More Details Hide Details She was also sentenced to one year of probation.
  • 1942
    Age 42
    Bellamy had been having an affair with Murphy for five years before he ended the relationship in October 1942.
    More Details Hide Details After learning that Murphy had married former model June Almy shortly after their breakup, Bellamy traveled to San Francisco to confront him and "... make him suffer somehow." She later admitted that she waited around Murphy's apartment in the Nob Hill area for four days. She eventually spotted Murphy leaving the Pacific-Union Club on January 20. While Murphy was getting into his car, Bellamy fired three shots at him. She later said, "I wasn't within speaking distance Murphy, but he saw me and shouted something I didn't understand. Maybe it was 'don't.' Then I guess I shot at him. He ducked and ran." She fired three times, hitting Murphy's car twice while the third shot missed. Witnesses wrestled the gun out of her hand. Shortly after the shooting, Bellamy claimed that she did not intend to harm Murphy and that she "... just wanted to see him. He wouldn't see me so I took the little gun with me. I had had the little gun so long I thought it was just a toy." She was also quoted as saying, "I only winged him, which is what I meant to do. Believe me, I'm a crack shot".
  • THIRTIES
  • 1932
    Age 32
    One of her better known roles from this period was in the 1932 film White Zombie, opposite Bela Lugosi and directed by brothers Edward and Victor Hugo Halperin.
    More Details Hide Details The film was a moderate success but received mixed reviews while Bellamy's performance was generally panned by critics (In a 1970 letter to Classic Film Collector, Bellamy claimed her performance appeared bad because she had lost her voice due to a cold and was dubbed by another actress. This has since been proven false). She was slated to appear in the Halperin brothers' next film, Supernatural, but Carole Lombard was cast instead. By the early 1940s, Bellamy's career had virtually ended. She garnered considerable media attention when, on January 20, 1943, she was arrested in San Francisco and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after firing a .32 caliber revolver at her former lover, wealthy lumber executive Albert Stanwood Murphy, three times.
    Bellamy attempted to find work as a freelance actress but did not work again until 1932 when she began appearing in Poverty Row films.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1929
    Age 29
    In 1929, she walked out on her contract at Fox after refusing to star in the planned film adaptation of The Trial of Mary Dugan, a 1927 hit Broadway play by Bayard Veiller that the studio bought especially for Bellamy (the film was made later that year at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring Norma Shearer).
    More Details Hide Details Bellamy later said of her career, "I got too big for my britches. I wanted too much money and when it was not forthcoming, I quit."
    Bellamy's final silent film, Fugitives, was released in 1929.
    More Details Hide Details Her first full length, all talking feature Tonight at Twelve, was released later that year. By the time of its release, Bellamy's career had taken a severe downturn due to several ill-advised choices she made in fits of anger (fan magazines of the day called Bellamy "Miss Firecracker" due to her temperament). Despite her poor behavior off-set, she was still a fairly popular performer and was named an "American Beauty" by the Hollywood Association of Foreign Correspondents.
  • 1928
    Age 28
    Metcalf was granted a divorce on April 25, 1928.
    More Details Hide Details By the time Bellamy retired from acting, she had squandered much of her fortune and lost the remaining money during the Depression. In her posthumously published autobiography, A Darling of the Twenties, Bellamy claimed that she lived in "abject poverty" after her retirement. She did, however, have some holdings in real estate and owned a retail shop in which she worked to support herself. In her spare time, she wrote screenplays and novels which were never purchased. In the early 1980s, she sold the retail shop for double the amount she had paid for it and lived in relative financial comfort for the rest of her life. Bellamy remained out of public view until the 1980s when film historians and silent film fans who had rediscovered her work began requesting interviews. She also began attending screenings of the low budget horror film White Zombie, which was a moderate success upon its initial release and has since become a cult classic.
    In 1928, Bellamy was cast in Fox's first part-talking film, Mother Knows Best The film was an adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel of the same name and features Bellamy as Sally Quail, a stage performer whose life is dominated by her overbearing stage mother "Ma Quail" (Louise Dresser).
    More Details Hide Details In the musical sequences, Bellamy impersonated several popular performers of the day including Anna Held, Sir Harry Lauder, and Al Jolson singing "My Mammy" in blackface. Reviews for the film were generally positive with critics noting that Bellamy's voice was weak.
  • 1927
    Age 27
    In 1927, Fox executive Winfield Sheehan, with whom Bellamy was having an affair, attempted to cast her in the lead role of "Diane" in the romantic drama 7th Heaven.
    More Details Hide Details Bellamy later told author Anthony Slide that she was in fact cast as "Diane", but was replaced by Janet Gaynor (who won the first Academy Award for Best Actress for her work in the film) when she was in France shooting exterior shots. Bellamy instead appeared in romantic comedy Very Confidential, in which she appeared as a model who impersonates a famous female sports figure.
  • 1925
    Age 25
    By 1925, Bellamy began encountering difficulties due to several "artistic differences" she had with studio executives.
    More Details Hide Details That year, she refused to accept a role in the highly successful silent epic Ben-Hur. She later attributed her career decline due to her own choice of wanting to appear in light comedy and flapper roles that showcased her looks instead of more demanding roles.
  • 1924
    Age 24
    In 1924, Bellamy's contract with Ince ended and she signed with Fox Film Corporation where she would stay for the next five years.
    More Details Hide Details While at Fox, she appeared in two films for John Ford, The Iron Horse (1924) and Lightin'.
  • 1922
    Age 22
    Bellamy's breakout role was as the title character in the 1922 film adaptation of the 1869 novel Lorna Doone.
    More Details Hide Details She thereafter became known as "the exquisite Madge" (Artist Penrhyn Stanlaws later called her "The Most Beautiful Girl in America"), and was cast in several melodramas by Ince.
  • 1921
    Age 21
    Her first film for Triangle was 1921's The Cup of Life, starring Hobart Bosworth.
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  • 1920
    Age 20
    In November 1920, she signed a three-year contract with Ince's newly formed Triangle Film Corporation.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1919
    Age 19
    Her big break came 1919 when she replaced Helen Hayes in the Broadway production of Dear Brutus opposite William Gillette, in 1918.
    More Details Hide Details Bellamy also appeared in the touring production of Dear Brutus. While appearing in Dear Brutus, Bellamy was cast in a supporting role in her first film The Riddle: Woman (1920), starring Geraldine Farrar. After the tour of Dear Brutus ended, she joined a stock company in Washington D. C. where she appeared in Peg o' My Heart. While a member of the company, Bellamy shot a screen test for director Thomas H. Ince.
  • 1918
    Age 18
    In 1918, she appeared in a touring production of Pollyanna for which she received good reviews.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1899
    Born
    Bellamy was born Margaret Derden Philpott in Hillsboro, Texas in 1899 to William Bledsoe and Annie Margaret (née Derden) Philpott.
    More Details Hide Details Bellamy was raised in San Antonio, Texas until she was 6 years old, and the family later moved to Brownwood, Texas, where her father worked as an English professor at Texas A&M University. The Philpotts later moved to Denver, Colorado. As a child, she took dancing lessons and soon began to aspire to become a stage performer. She made her stage debut dancing in a local production of Aida, at the age of 9. Shortly before she was to graduate from high school, Bellamy left home for New York City. She soon began working as a dancer on Broadway. After appearing in the chorus of The Love Mill (1917), she decided to try acting.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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