Dagmar Godowsky

Mercedes Dagmar Godowsky (November 24, 1897 – February 13, 1975) was an American silent film actress.

Dagmar Godowsky
Godowsky in 1920
Mercedes Dagmar Godowsky

(1897-11-24)November 24, 1897
DiedFebruary 13, 1975(1975-02-13) (aged 77)
Years active1919–1926
Frank Mayo
(m. 1921; annulled 1928)
Parent(s)Leopold Godowsky
Frederica Saxe
RelativesLeopold Godowsky Jr. (brother)


Mercedes Dagmar Godowsky was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 24, 1897, the daughter of Polish composer Leopold Godowsky, who was of Jewish descent, and Frederica "Frieda" Saxe, who was of English descent,[1][2] although she later claimed she was born in Vilna, Russian Empire, in her autobiography, First Person Plural. She had an older sister, Vanita Hedwig (18921961), and two younger brothers, Leopold Godowsky Jr. and Gutram (19051932).[3]

Her Hollywood film career spanned the years from 1919 through 1926. She played in A Sainted Devil (1924) with Rudolph Valentino and The Story Without a Name (1924). The latter co-starred Tyrone Power Sr. and Louis Wolheim. Among her other film credits are Red Lights (1923), The Common Law (1923), Virtuous Liars (1924), and The Price of a Party (1924).

Personal life

Godowsky wed silent screen actor Frank Mayo in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1921. She named actress Anna Luther as co-respondent in a suit brought against Mayo in March 1925. The marriage was annulled in August 1928 on the ground that Mayo had another wife.

In 1958, Godowsky published a thoroughly candid (disputed; according to the Artur Rubenstein biography by Harvey Sachs, Godowsky's memoirs were "apparently uninhibited but in fact heavily self-censored.") autobiography titled First Person Plural. She wrote, "I lived only for pleasure and I spoiled my own fun. Where was I running? From whom? Little feet running around the globe. Nothing but circles, and I never once bumped into myself."[4]

In the book, she named Enrico Caruso, Arthur Rubinstein, Jascha Heifetz, Charles Chaplin, Igor Stravinsky, and Valentino among her "great loves." When queried about the number of husbands she had, Godowsky responded, "Two of my own, my dear, and several of my friends."

In her later years, she made frequent appearances in London and on television talk shows in New York City.


Godowsky died aged 77 in Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan on February 13, 1975. It was the anniversary of her father's birth. Her funeral was held at Riverside Chapel. She was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Westchester, New York. She was survived by her brother, Leopold. He was married to Frances Gershwin, sister of George Gershwin.

Partial filmography


  1. Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922
  2. Passenger List SS Washington November 18, 1933
  3. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/66844174/mercedes-dagmar-mayo
  4. Godowsky, Dagmar. First Person Plural. The Lives of Dagmar Godowsky by Herself. New York: The Viking Press, 1958.


  • "Dagmar Godowsky, 78, Vamp Of the Silent Screen, Is Dead", The New York Times, February 14, 1975, Page 35.
  • "Frank Mayo Accused By Silent Screen Star", Oakland Tribune, Wednesday Evening, March 18, 1925, Page 1.
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