Helen Marguerite Clark (February 22, 1883 – September 25, 1940) was an American stage and silent film actress. As a movie actress, at one time, Clark was second only to Mary Pickford in popularity. With the exception of five films, most of her films are considered lost.
Clark in 1919
Helen Marguerite Clark
February 22, 1883
|Died||September 25, 1940 57) (aged|
New York City, U.S.
|Resting place||Metairie Cemetery|
Harry Palmerston Williams
(m. 1918; his death 1936)
Early life and theatre
Born in Avondale, Cincinnati, Ohio on February 22, 1883, she was the third child of Augustus "Gus" James and Helen Elizabeth Clark. She had an older sister, Cora, and an older brother named Clifton. Clark's mother Helen died on January 21, 1893. Her father worked in his self-owned successful haberdashery located in downtown Cincinnati before his death on December 29, 1896. Following the death, Clark's sister Cora was appointed her legal guardian and removed her from public school to further her education at Ursuline Academy.
She finished school at age 16, decided to pursue a career in the theatre and soon made her Broadway debut in 1900. The 17-year-old performed at various venues. In 1903, she was seen on Broadway opposite that hulking comedian DeWolf Hopper in Mr. Pickwick. The 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) Hopper dwarfed the nearly 5-foot-tall (1.5 m) Clark in their scenes together. Several adventure-fantasy roles followed. In 1909, Clark starred in the whimsical costume play The Beauty Spot, establishing the fantasy stories for which would soon become her hallmark. In 1910, Clark appeared in The Wishing Ring, a play directed by Cecil DeMille and later made into a motion picture by Maurice Tourneur. That same 1910 season had Clark appearing in Baby Mine, a popular play produced by William A. Brady.
In 1912, Clark performed in a lead role with John Barrymore, Doris Keane and Gail Kane in the play The Affairs of Anatol later made into a motion picture by Clark's future movie studio Famous Players-Lasky and directed by Cecil DeMille. That same year, she starred in a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The classic tale was adapted for the stage by Winthrop Ames (writing under the pseudonym Jessie Braham White), who closely oversaw its production at his Little Theatre in New York and personally selected the lead actress. Clark expressed her delight in the role, and the play had a successful run into 1913. Clark's popularity led to her signing a contract in 1914 to make motion pictures with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company, and over the next two years she was cast in starring roles in more than a dozen features. She then reprised her stage role in a film that would define the Clark persona—the influential 1916 screen version of Snow White.
At age 31, it was relatively late in life for a film actress to begin a career with starring roles, but the diminutive Clark had a little-girl look, like Mary Pickford, that belied her years. Also, film was not developed or mature enough to showcase Clark at her youthful best at the turn of the century. These were some of the reasons established Broadway stars refused early film offers. Feature films were unheard of when Clark was in her early 20s. She made her first appearance on screen in the short film Wildflower, directed by Allan Dwan.
In 1915, Clark starred as "Gretchen" in a feature-length production of The Goose Girl based on a 1909 best-selling novel by Harold MacGrath. She performed in the feature-length production The Seven Sisters (1915), directed by Sidney Olcott, and she reprised a Broadway role, starring in the first feature-length film version of Snow White (1916).
Clark was directed in this by J. Searle Dawley, as well as in a number of films, notably when she played the characters of both "Little Eva St. Clair" and "Topsy" in the feature Uncle Tom's Cabin (1918).
Clark starred in Come Out of the Kitchen (1919), which was filmed in Pass Christian, Mississippi, at Ossian Hall. The same year, she enrolled as a yeowoman in the naval reserves. Clark made all but one of her 40 films with Famous Players-Lasky, her last with them in 1920 titled Easy to Get, in which she starred opposite silent film actor Harrison Ford. Her next film, in 1921, was made by her own production company for First National Pictures distribution. As one of the most popular actresses going into the 1920s, and one of the industry's best paid, her name alone was enough to ensure reasonable box office success. As such, Scrambled Wives was made under her direction, following which she retired at age 38 to be with her husband at their country estate in New Orleans.
On August 15, 1918, Clark married New Orleans, Louisiana plantation owner and millionaire businessman Harry Palmerston Williams, a marriage that ended with the death of Williams' on May 19, 1936 in an aircraft crash. After his death, Clark was the owner of the Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation, which had built and flown air racers, along with other aviation enterprises until sold in 1937.
After the death of her husband, Clark moved to New York City where she lived with her sister Cora. On September 20, 1940, she entered LeRoy Sanitarium where she died five days later of pneumonia. A private funeral was held at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel on September 28. She was cremated and buried with her husband in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Marguerite Clark has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6304 Hollywood Boulevard.
|September 24 – November 10, 1900||The Belle of Bohemia||Rosie Mulberry|
|October 7 – November 30, 1901||The New Yorkers||Mary Lamb|
|May 5 – August 30, 1902||The Wild Rose||Lieutenant Gaston Gardennes|
|January 19 – May 1903||Mr. Pickwick||Polly|
|June 22 – July 18, 1903||George W. Lederer's Mid-Summer Night Fancies||Dorothy|
|October 2, 1905 – June 2, 1906||Happyland||Sylvia|
|December 3, 1908 – January 16, 1909||The Pied Piper||Elviria|
|April 10 – August 7, 1909||The Beauty Spot||Nadine, General Samovar's daughter|
|January 10 – January 22, 1910||The King of Cadonia||Princess Marie|
|January 20, 1910 – Closing date unknown||The Wishing Ring|
|May 10 – June 1910||Jim the Penman|
|August 23, 1910 – Closing date unknown||Baby Mine||Zoie Hardy|
|October 14 – December 1912||The Affairs of Anatol||Hilda|
|November 7, 1912 – Closing date unknown||Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs||Snow White|
|May 1 – May 1913||Are You a Crook?||Amy Herrick|
|October 27, 1913 – Closing date unknown||Prunella||Prunella|
|1914||Wildflower||Letty Roberts||Lost film|
|1914||The Crucible||Jean||Lost film|
|1915||The Goose Girl||Anita Alvarez||Lost film|
|1915||Gretna Green||Dolly Erskine||Lost film|
|1915||The Pretty Sister of Jose||Pepita||Lost film|
|1915||The Seven Sisters||Mici||Lost film|
|1915||Heléne of the North||Heléne Dearing||Lost film|
|1915||Still Waters||Nesta||Lost film|
|1915||The Prince & the Pauper||Prince Edward/Tom Canty||Lost film|
|1916||Mice and Men||Peggy||Lost film|
|1916||Out of the Drifts||Elise||Lost film|
|1916||Molly Make-Believe||Molly||Lost film|
|1916||Silks and Satins||Felicite|
|1916||Little Lady Eileen||Eileen Kavanaugh||Lost film|
|1916||Miss George Washington||Bernice Somers||Lost film|
|1916||Snow White||Snow White|
|1917||The Fortunes of Fifi||Fifi||Lost film|
|1917||The Valentine Girl||Marion Morgan||Lost film|
|1917||The Amazons||Lord Tommy||Lost film|
|1917||Bab's Diary||Bab Archibald||Lost film|
|1917||Bab's Burglar||Bab Archibald||Lost film|
|1917||Bab's Matinee Idol||Bab Archibald||Lost film|
|1917||The Seven Swans||Princess Tweedledee||Lost film|
|1918||Rich Man, Poor Man||Betty Wynne||Lost film|
|1918||Uncle Tom's Cabin||Little Eva St. Clair/Topsy||Lost film|
|1918||Out of a Clear Sky||Countess Celeste de Bersek et Krymm||Lost film|
|1918||The Biggest and the Littlest Lady in the World||The Little Lady||Lost film; a short about war bonds|
|1918||Little Miss Hoover||Ann Craddock|
|1919||Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch||Lovey Mary|
|1919||Three Men and a Girl||Sylvia Weston||Lost film|
|1919||Let's Elope||Eloise Farrington||Lost film|
|1919||Come Out of the Kitchen||Claudia Daingerfield||Lost film|
|1919||Girls||Pamela Gordon||Lost film|
|1919||Widow by Proxy||Gloria Grey||Lost film|
|1919||Luck in Pawn||Annabel Lee|
|1919||A Girl Named Mary||Mary Healey||Lost film|
|1920||All of a Sudden Peggy||Peggy O'Hara||Lost film|
|1920||Easy to Get||Molly Morehouse||Lost film|
|1921||Scrambled Wives||Miss Mary Lucille Smith||Lost film|
- "Foreign news: 'Tough for Has'-beens'." Variety, June 8, 1927, p. 2.
- Nunn 1981, pp. 3–4.
- Blum 1988, p. 109.
- Kaufman, J. B. (2019). "Snow White". Silentfilm.org. San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
- Ballard. Mike. "Marguerite Clark, Film Fantasy Queen." greatlivesinhistory, February 22, 2010. Retrieved: January 9, 2012.
- "Noted actress taken by death." The Spokesman-Review, September 26, 1940, p. 3. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
- "Marguerite Clark, ex-actress, dies." The New York Times, September 26, 1940, p. 21. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
- "Marguerite Clark, ex-actress, dies." The Milwaukee Journal, September 25, 1940, p. 10. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
- "Marguerite Clark honored at funeral; Associates pay tribute to the former actress at rites here." The New York Times, September 29, 1940.
- "Star of silent films given simple funeral." The Palm Beach Post, September 29, 1940, p. 12. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
- "Hollywood Star Walk: Marguerite Clark." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved: May 19, 2013.
- Blum, Daniel. Pictorial History of the American Theater. New York: Random House Value Publishing, First edition 1950. ISBN 0-517-53022-8.
- Nunn, Curtis. Marguerite Clark: America's Darling of Broadway and the Silent Screen. Fort Worth, Texas: The Texas Christian University Press, 1981. ISBN 0-912646-69-1.
- Wilson, H.W. Current Biography Yearbook. H.W Wilson.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marguerite Clark.|
- Marguerite Clark at the Internet Broadway Database
- Marguerite Clark on IMDb
- Contemporary interviews with Marguerite Clark
- Marguerite Clark page at Corbis
- Marguerite Clark gallery NY Public Library
- Marguerite Clark bio & pics
- portrait of Marguerite Clark and DeWolf Hopper on Broadway in Happyland (1905) Univ. of Washington/Sayre Collection
- Marguerite Clark at Find a Grave