Marin Sais

Marin Sais (born Mae Smith, August 2, 1890 – December 31, 1971) was an American actress whose career was most prolific during the silent film era of the 1910s and 1920s. Sais' acting career spanned over four decades and she is possibly best recalled for appearing in Western themed films.

Marin Sais
Publicity photo, ca. 1915-1918
Mae Smith

(1890-08-02)August 2, 1890
DiedDecember 31, 1971(1971-12-31) (aged 81)
Years active1910–1953
Spouse(s)Jack Hoxie (m.1920–div.1925)

Early life and career

Born in San Rafael, California into a family that was allegedly descended from one of the earliest Spanish families to settle in California, Marin Sais began her acting career as a teenager after travelling to New York City where she appeared in vaudeville.

In 1910, at the age of twenty, Sais made her screen debut for New York City's Vitagraph Studios in the short film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night opposite the notable actors Florence Turner and Julia Swayne Gordon. Sais would go on to star in a number of well-received comedy shorts for Kalem Company opposite actors Ruth Roland, Marshall Neilan and Edward Coxen. In 1911, Sais made her first appearance in a Western entitled The Ranger's Stratagem - it would become a frequent career choice for the actress and in her later career she would rarely appear in other motion picture genres.

Throughout the 1910s, Sais' career as an actress continued to build momentum and the actress showed her versatility by appearing in such varied genres as comedy shorts, Westerns, dramas, and beginning in 1915 she began appearing in a James W. Horne directed Kalem Company Nancy Drew-style mystery serial The Girl Detective, with such titles as: The Riddle of the Rings, The Secret Code, The Disappearing Necklace and The Vanishing Vases. Sais also continued to work under the direction of Horne in dozens of Western shorts.

Rise to stardom

In December 1915, Sais was filming a lead role on location in the Mojave Desert when a sudden sandstorm blew in. She and the film crew were stranded for a day, unable to get to the nearest settlement. She suffered seriously from exposure but recuperated after a few days of rest in Los Angeles, California. In 1916 she began appearing as the character Barbara Brent in a Horne directed Western series of shorts.

By 1918 Sais was a highly popular and publicly recognizable film personality and was chosen by Japanese silent film matinee idol Sessue Hayakawa to appear opposite him in a series of film collaborations, the first being the 1918 racial drama The City of Dim Faces followed by His Birthright, released the same year and also starring Hayakawa's actress wife Tsuru Aoki. Sais' collaboration with Hayakawa ended with the 1919 film Bonds of Honor and the same year Sais appeared with Swedish actress Anna Q. Nilsson in the moderately successful drama The Vanity Pool.

In 1920, Sais married silent Western actor Jack Hoxie whom she met on the set of the 1916 film Tigers Unchained. It was her second marriage. The two began appearing in a number of well-received Western action and adventure films. Although the couple would divorce seven years later, Sais would rarely appear in films outside of the Western genre from 1920 onward. One notable film of the period was the Bruce M. Mitchell directed 1924 film The Hellion, which featured British actor Boris Karloff in one of his first prominent roles.

Later career and death

By the mid-1920s Marin Sais' career was declining and she began appearing in a number of lower budget Westerns. It was a trend that would follow Sais throughout her career into the talkie era of the 1930s and give her the dubious title of "Queen of the B-movie oaters". During the 1930s, Sais appeared in approximately twenty films - nearly all Westerns. One notable exception is an uncredited role as Mrs. Harper in 1936 cult classic Reefer Madness.

Sais' acting career continued throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s, often in bit parts or in uncredited roles in poorly received, low budget Westerns. Two exceptions were the popular 1945 Sam Newfield directed Western Lightning Raiders, starring Buster Crabbe and her role as The Duchess in the long-running 1949 Red Ryder serials starring Jim Bannon. By the early 1950s, she made a tentative foray into the new medium of television with a guest appearance on The Lone Ranger. Sais' last role before retirement was a small part in the made-for-TV movie The Great Jesse James Raid in 1953.

As a star in her 20s, prior to the end of World War I, Sais' home was in Glendale, California. In her later years, Marin Sais retired to the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California where she was a resident for many years. She died in 1971 of cerebral arteriosclerosis at the age of 81.

Selected filmography


    • Hoxie Boys: The Lives and Films of Jack and Al Hoxie. by Edgar M. Wyatt, Wyatt Classics, Raleigh, NC. 1992.
    • Lincoln, Nebraska Sunday Star, Movie Players Brave a Desert Sandstorm For Stingaree Film, Sunday, December 12, 1915, Page 7.
    • Lincoln Daily Star, Answers To Movie Fans, Sunday, December 9, 1917, Page 22.
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