May McAvoy

May McAvoy (September 8, 1899 April 26, 1984)[1] was an American actress who worked mainly during the silent-film era. Some of her major roles are Laura Pennington in The Enchanted Cottage, Esther in Ben-Hur, and Mary Dale in The Jazz Singer.

May McAvoy
McAvoy in 1922
Born(1899-09-08)September 8, 1899
DiedApril 26, 1984(1984-04-26) (aged 84)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City
Years active19171959
Maurice Cleary
(m. 1929; div. 1940)


McAvoy appeared in her first film in 1917 entitled Hate.[2]

After appearing in more than three dozen films, McAvoy co-starred with Ramón Novarro and Francis X. Bushman in director Fred Niblo's 1925 production of Ben-Hur released by MGM. The feature-length film was one of the most lavish and spectacular productions of the silent movie era.
McAvoy is playing Lady Windermere in Ernst Lubitsch's Lady Windermere's Fan (1925).
Although her voice was not heard in The Jazz Singer, she did speak in several other films, including the second "all-talkie" released by Warner Brothers, The Terror, which was directed by Roy Del Ruth and co-starred Conrad Nagel.

For years, a rumor circulated that McAvoy retired from the screen at the transition to sound films because of a lisp or speech impediment.[3] In truth, she married the treasurer of United Artists, who asked her not to work.[3]

Later, she returned to films and played small roles during the 1940s and 1950s as uncredited role, making her final film appearance in a small part of the 1959 version of Ben-Hur.

She was also the Rose Queen in the Rose Parade in 1923.[4]

Personal life

McAvoy married banker Maurice Cleary on June 26, 1929,[5] with whom she had a son named Patrick,[1] and divorced him in 1940.[6]


On April 26, 1984, McAvoy died at the age of 84 from the after effects of a heart attack suffered the previous year.[2] She is interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[1]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, May McAvoy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1731 Vine Street.[7]




  1. "Original Jazz Singer' Star May Mcavoy Dies At 82". Gainesville Sun. May 3, 1984. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  2. "May Mcavoy Dies; Jolson's Leading Lady". Schenectady Gazette. May 4, 1984. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  3. Lamparski, Richard (1982). Whatever Became Of ...? Eighth Series. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 190–1. ISBN 0-517-54855-0.
  4. Queens of the Rose Parade
  5. "May Mcavoy Is Married". San Jose News. June 27, 1929. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  6. "May McAvoy Wins Divorce and Discloses Her Poverty". Los Angeles Times. November 20, 1940. p. 9. Retrieved December 30, 2011. Once one of the highest salaried actresses in the motionpicture industry. May McAvoy disclosed yesterday in divorcing Maurice G. Cleary. former banker, that of late she was forced to seek financial aid from the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
  7. "Walk Of Fame Uses Plenty Of Celebrity Footprints". Record-Journal. August 13, 1989. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.