Grace Darmond

Grace Darmond (born Grace Glionna; November 20, 1893[1] October 8, 1963) was a Canadian-born American actress.[2]

Grace Darmond
Publicity photo of Darmond from Stars of the Photoplay (1916)
Grace Glionna

(1893-11-20)November 20, 1893
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedOctober 8, 1963(1963-10-08) (aged 69)
Years active1914-1927
Spouse(s)Henry J. Matson (m.1926-?)
Randolph Jennings (m.1928-?)
Partner(s)Jean Acker (1918-1920s)

Early life

Born Grace Glionna,[3] Darmond was born in Toronto on November 20, 1893. Her parents were James Glionna, a U.S.-born musician who had lived in Canada since 1877, and Alice Glionna, an Ontario native.[4]


Darmond was active onscreen between 1914 and 1927.[5] She starred in the first Technicolor film, The Gulf Between (1917), with actor Niles Welch. The film premiered September 13 in Boston and September 21 at the Aeolian Hall in New York City. However, when the film went into limited release in early 1918 on a tour of Eastern U. S. cities, it was a critical and commercial failure. The early Technicolor process ("System 1") was an additive color process that required a special projector, and it suffered from "fringing" and "haloing" of colors.[6]

Darmond was pretty, slender, and starred in many notable films of the period, but she never was able to break through as a leading actress in big budget films. Most of her roles were in support of bigger names of the time, and most of her starring roles were smaller, lesser known films. She appeared in Below the Surface (1920), in which she starred with Hobart Bosworth and Lloyd Hughes,[7] and that same year she played in A Dangerous Adventure, produced and directed by Warner Brothers.[8] This led to her being cast alongside Boris Karloff in the mystery thriller The Hope Diamond Mystery (1921).[9] In the July edition of Motion Picture Magazine, she was featured in an article by Joan Tully entitled "Mantled With Shyness (A Word Portrait of Grace Darmond)".[10]

Personal life

Darmond was reportedly a lesbian.[11] Although performing in a substantial number of films over roughly 13 years, she was known in Hollywood's inner circle as the lover of actress Jean Acker, the first wife of actor Rudolph Valentino. She was also associated, as many struggling actresses of the day were, with the actress Alla Nazimova, a former lover of Acker, although it has never been verified that Nazimova and Darmond were ever linked romantically. She and Acker attended parties at Nazimova's Garden of Allah, an imposing house on Sunset Boulevard named punningly after a Robert Smythe Hichens play Nazimova had appeared in.[12]

She and Jean Acker met in 1918, and the two became lovers shortly thereafter. Acker met relatively unknown actor Valentino only a few months later at a party at Nazimova's home. She and Valentino began dating, but reportedly never had sexual relations. They married in 1919, but on their wedding night, Acker fled the house and ran to Darmond's home, stating that it was her that she loved.[13] The marriage is alleged to have never been consummated, and Acker filed for a legal separation in 1921; she later filed charges of bigamy against Valentino when he married designer Natacha Rambova in Mexico before his divorce from Acker was finalized.[14]

Darmond and Acker reportedly remained lovers through most of the 1920s. Her last most notable film was Wide Open (1927), starring Lionel Belmore and Dick Grace. When the advent of talkies came about, Darmond, like so many actresses and actors from the silent film era, was not able to make a successful transition. She ended her acting career, and for the most part disappeared from the public eye until her death in 1963.

Darmond married Randolph P. Jennings, an oil man, on January 22, 1928.[15] The marriage was solemnized in Hollywood by a minister called James H. Lash, and witnessed by Lillian Willat (legal married name of actress Billie Dove) and Robert Fairbanks (possibly Robert Payne Ullman, who was known professionally as Robert Fairbanks, brother of the actor Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman, aka Douglas Fairbanks).[16] This probable venue of the wedding was 7065 Hollywood Boulevard, which was the site of the Hollywood Congregational Church in the 1920s.[17]

Darmond evidently lied about her age to her fiancé as well as the county clerk, as she would have been at least 29 at the time the marriage license was issued. There is an issue about whether she was born November 20, 1893, or November 20, 1898, but she could not possibly have been born as late as 1901.[18] She clearly continued this subterfuge with her husband into their marriage, as she is listed as his wife, Grace D. Jennings, 28, on the 1930 census, which also reveals that the couple resided at 712 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, California, and that they had a butler called Chris W. Tandoc.[19][20] The pair divorced in 1935.[21]

Darmond died at the age of 69 in her apartment at 7850 W. Sunset Blvd. (formerly the San Ramon Apartments; currently known as The Villa Rosa) in Hollywood.[22] At the time, she had been being treated for lung pain at the Motion Picture & Television Country Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.

Partial filmography


  1. 1901 Census of Canada, 118 Toronto West, Ontario, page 6.
  2. National Cowboy Museum website
  3. Ankerich, Michael G. Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers and Misfortunes of 14 Hard-Luck Girls of the Silent Screen. BearManor Media, 2010.
  4. 1901 Census of Canada, 118 Toronto West, Ontario, page 6.
  6. UKOnline entry Archived 2006-08-21 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Grapevine Video website
  8. SilentEra entry
  9. Serials Squadron website Archived 2006-05-08 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Sunrises Silents website Archived 2006-08-22 at the Wayback Machine
  11. Abrams, Brett L. (2008-08-19). Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Movieland Dream. McFarland. ISBN 9780786439294.
  12. The Old Dyke website Archived August 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  15. State of California Marriage License No.690, Book 775, Page 86, issued Jan 21, 1928 & the Certificate of Marriage, State of California, County of Los Angeles (both documents found on MyHeritage.Com)
  17. Dangcil, Tommy (2002-09-24). Hollywood 1900-1950 in Vintage Postcards. ISBN 9781439613696.
  19. Fifteenth Census of The United States: 1930, Beverly Hills City (part), Los Angeles, California. Enumeration District 19 – 821, sheet 12a, lines 18,19,20. Enumerated April 12, 1930 by Edna B. Reeder ( found on
  21. "9 Oct 1963, 31 - The Los Angeles Times at". Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  22. "9 Oct 1963, 31 - The Los Angeles Times at". Retrieved 2018-10-23.
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