Edward Coxen

Albert Edward Coxen (8 August 1880 – 21 November 1954) was an English-born American actor. He appeared in over 200 films during his career.

Edward Coxen
Born(1880-08-08)8 August 1880
Southwark, London, England
Died21 November 1954(1954-11-21) (aged 74)
Years active1911–1941
Spouse(s)Edith Borella (1914 - ?)

Early life

Coxen was born at Southwark, London, England, the first child of Joseph Coxen of Wandsworth, London, and Sarah Jane Coxen (née Parfitt).[1] At the time of Coxen's birth, his parents ran the Carpenter Arms public house, at St. Marylebone, London. In 1880, Joseph Coxen's brother John and wife Ellen left England and settled in San Francisco. Joseph and Sarah Coxen with young Bertie, as Coxen was called, on the ship's manifest, followed them in 1882.[2] The Coxen brothers soon established Coxen Bros., a wood and photo engravers business, in the city, and the families lived together at 1612 Jones Street. By 1890, Coxen, aged 10, and his parent were living in independent accommodation at 1925, Filbert Street in San Francisco.[3]

However, despite the fact that they had settled well in the States, the Coxen family returned to London in 1896 so that Sarah could look after her dying sister Catherine Strawson. Coxen was intent on completing his education and returned to the United States third class on the America line vessel SS St. Louis from Southampton, arriving in New York City the day before his seventeenth birthday. Coxen had $125 to get him back to his uncle John's home in California. In 1900, aged 20, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.[4]


After returning to San Francisco, Coxen continued his education at the University of California, Berkeley campus and after graduating in the early 1900s he embarked upon a commercial career working for his father and uncle John at Coxen Bros. However, this did not appeal to him, and he set about attempting to make his fortune firstly by prospecting for gold and then by moving into work in civil engineering. Finally, he entered the profession he yearned for most, acting, and spoke his first lines as a professional actor on the stage of the Majestic Theatre, San Francisco at the age of 26 early in 1906. The San Francisco earthquake and fires of 18 April 1906 followed soon after his debut, so he moved to a theater across the bay in Oakland where he appeared in Ye Liberty, Balasco's Alcazar, and many other popular plays. The earthquake of 1906 and San Francisco's big fire had a serious and detrimental impact on the business of Coxen Bros. and they moved south permanently to Los Angeles.

When he started his acting career, Coxen dropped "Albert" as his first name and was often billed as Edward, Eddie or Ed Coxen. In 1909, he returned to New York City, this time as an established 29-year-old actor performing at Wallack's Theatre, Broadway. On 27 December 1909, he appeared in A Little Brother of the Rich, a play that ran for 27 performances.

Hollywood was the centre of the new and rapidly growing motion picture industry; it was a magnet to aspiring young actors. The demand for one-reeler Westerns was insatiable, and some studios released these on a one-a-week basis. Early in 1911, the Santa Monica Studio was formed by the Kalem Company to satisfy the increasing demand and young talent such as Ed Coxen, Ruth Roland, Marin Sais, and Marshall Neilan were recruited.

Coxen was soon to move north up the coast to Santa Barbara, where in 1912 he joined the American Film Manufacturing Company's Studios and began his motion picture career as one of a group of actors known as the 'Flying A' stars. He remained a star of those studios until 1917. This was a period when he was very popular with the cinema public, and in 1912 alone he made 34 films. Popular films included The Ghost of the Hacienda, Crooks and Credulous, In Three Hours, The Drummer's Honeymoon, and he took the lead part in The Trail of the Lost Chord. In several of his films, including Saints and Sinners, he often appeared with leading co-star Winifred Greenwood, particularly in many melodramas filmed in Santa Barbara. On Saturday 7 August 1915 his popularity was such that his photograph was featured on the front page of Pictures and The Picturegoer. His agents were Central Casting Corporation of Hollywood Boulevard & Western Avenue. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 had an adverse impact on the American movie industry, including Flying A.[5] European revenue to the fledgling studio constituted the major part of its income, and, when the US entered the war, not only did that income decline, but confidence amongst the US movie-going public also faltered. There was also a move in popularity away from one- and two-reelers to feature-length films. In 1915, after a period of turmoil and in-fighting in the American Film Company (Flying A), the top management changed, and, although the company was ‘riding high’ in 1916, the staff bill was too high and cuts were inevitable. Towards the end of 1916 and during 1917 staff, including actors, one of whom was Ed Coxen, were laid off.

By the time Coxen entered his 40s in the 1920s, he became largely a supporting actor, usually portraying villains, but working with stars such as Buster Keaton. Although he worked on well into the 1940s, he landed only bit parts. In 1941, after appearing in two films uncredited, Coxen retired from acting.

Personal life

On 31 March 1884 whilst settled in San Francisco, Sarah Coxen gave birth to Ed Coxen's only sibling, a sister, Rosa A Coxen. Rosa married William Arthur Corder in San Francisco some time before the 1920 US census.[6] Rosa died on 30 March 1974.[7] On 14 October 1914, at the age of 33, he married Edith Victoria Borella in Los Angeles,[8] a 24-year-old[9] film actress born in Switzerland[10] of Swiss parents. Borella, who also used the screen names of Eda, Ada and Aida, had played minor parts alongside Coxen in films such as Restitution, where Winifred Greenwood played his love interest. Edith Borella Coxen died in Los Angeles on 6 March 1974[11]


On 21 November 1954, Coxen died at his longtime home, 464 N Manhattan Place, Los Angeles.[12] He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. This brief obituary[13] for Albert Edward Coxen appeared shortly after his interment: 'Mr Coxen started his career at San Francisco and worked in both silent and talking motion pictures. He played with Rudolf Valentino, Ruth Roland and William S Hart. He leaves his widow Mrs Edith Victoria Coxen and a sister Mrs Rosa A Corder'.

Selected filmography


  1. Parfitt, R T, The Greenwood Tree, Journal of the Somerset & Dorset FHS, 2005 Vol. 30 No 3, pp8-89
  2. Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists 1820-1897 M237. Rolls# 95 -580 National Archives Washington D.C.
  3. Ancestry.com. San Francisco Directories 1889-1891
  4. US Federal Census 1920, Los Angeles, California, District 466.
  5. Birchard, R.S., Silent-Era Filmmaking in Santa Barbara, Arcadia Publishing USA, 2007
  6. US Federal Census, 1920, Venice Township, Los Angeles, California
  7. California, Death Index, 1940 - 1997.
  8. Family Search.org
  9. According to her California death record her birth is given as 25 November 1890.
  10. In 1920, the US census gives her birthplace, whereas her death record indicates 'other country'
  11. California Deaths, 1940 - 1997. Ancestry.com.
  12. California Death Records 1940 - 1997
  13. Los Angeles Times22 & 24 November 1954.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.