Ethel Clayton

Ethel Clayton (November 8, 1882 – June 6, 1966) was an American actress of the silent film era.

Ethel Clayton
Clayton in 1910
Born(1882-11-08)November 8, 1882
DiedJune 6, 1966(1966-06-06) (aged 83)
Years active19091948
Spouse(s)Joseph Kaufman
(m. 19??; died 1918)
Ian Keith
(m. 1928; div. 1931)


Clayton had a burgeoning stage career. Her pretty brunette looks were reminiscent of the famous Gibson Girl drawings by Charles Dana Gibson. On the stage she appeared mainly in musicals or musical reviews such as The Ziegfeld Follies of 1911. These musical appearances indicate a singing talent Clayton may have possessed but which went unused in her many silent screen performances.

Following appearances on screen in short dramas from 1909 to 1912, Clayton made her feature-length film debut in For the Love of a Girl in 1912. Barry O'Neil directed the film, and Clayton would later be directed by William Demille, Robert G. Vignola, George Melford and Donald Crisp in subsequent features film. Like many silent film actors, Clayton's career was hurt by the coming of sound to motion pictures. She continued her career in small parts in movies until she retired in 1948. Her screen credits number more than 180.

Personal life

In 1931, Clayton obtained a California Superior Court order enjoining her former business partner, W.L. Rucker, from disposing of 316 pearls. Clayton and Rucker agreed to purchase a cosmetics business and the pearls had been entrusted to Rucker to raise money. The deal fell through and he refused to return the jewels. Rucker admitted to possessing the pearls but claimed they had been pledged as security for a $125 loan. The pearls were valued at $20,000.


Clayton was first married to actor-director Joseph Kaufman until his death in 1918 in the Spanish flu epidemic. She later married silent film actor and former star Ian Keith twice and they divorced twice. In both cases Clayton cited cruelty and excessive drinking. Clayton and Keith were first married in Minneapolis in 1928 and first separated on January 13, 1931.


Ethel Clayton died on June 6, 1966 at Guardian Convalescent Hospital[1] in Oxnard, California, aged 83. She was buried at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura, California.

For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Ethel Clayton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Selected filmography

1909 to 1914

  • Justified (1909) (*short)
  • Gratitude (1909) (*short)
  • The Brothers (1909) (*short)
  • The Twelfth Juror (1909) (*short)
  • The Tout's Remembrance(1910)(*short)
  • For the Love of a Girl (1912) (*short)
  • A Romance of the Coast (1912) (*short)
  • The Doctor's Debt (1912)
  • The Last Rose of Summer (1912) (*short)
  • Just Maine Folk (1912)
  • An Irish Girl's Love (*short)
  • The Wonderful One-Horse Shay (1912)
  • The Price Demanded (1913)
  • When the Earth Trembled (1913) Extant; restored 2015 by EyeMuseum, Netherlands
  • The Lion and the Mouse (1914)
  • The House Next Door (1914)
  • The Fortune Hunter - (1955)


  • The Attorney for the Defense (*short)
  • The Furnace Man (*short)
  • His Soul Mate (*short)
  • It All Depends (*short)
  • The Millinery Man (*short)
  • A Woman Went Forth (*short)
  • Margie Puts One Over (*short)
  • Here Comes the Bride (*short)
  • The Blessed Miracle (*short)
  • Monkey Business (*short)
  • The Unmarried Husband (*short)
  • Capturing the Cook (*short)
  • Just Look at Jake (*short)
  • The College Widow (*5-6 reels) - Lost
  • In the Dark (*short)
  • The Sporting Duchess (*short)
  • The Darkness Before Dawn (*short)
  • Money! Money! Money! (*short)
  • When the Light Came In (*short)
  • The Earl's Adventure (*short)
  • A Day of Havoc (*short)
  • The Deception (*short)
  • It Was to Be (*short)
  • The Mirror (*short)
  • In Spite of Him (*short)
  • The Orgy (*short)
  • The Great Divide (*5 reels)


  • Ophelia (*short, she'll appear in one more short in 1926)
  • Dollars and the Woman
  • His Brother's Wife
  • A Woman's Way
  • Husband and Wife
  • The Hidden Scar
  • Beyond the Wall
  • The New South
  • Dollars and the Woman










  • The Bar-C Mystery - Lost
  • The Merry Widower (*short, last short of her career) - Survives
  • Sunny Side Up - Survives
  • Risky Business - Survives
  • His New York Wife


1928 to 1947

See also


  • The New York Times, "Sues For 316 Pearls", March 26, 1931, Page 56.
  • The New York Times, "Decree To Ethel Clayton", February 27, 1932, Page 20.
  • The New York Times, "Film Couple Re-Divorced", July 20, 1932, Page 20.
  • The New York Times, "Ethel Clayton", June 12, 1966, Page 86.
  1. Oxnard Press Courier. June 6, 1966. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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