Patricia Ellis

Patricia Ellis (born Patricia O'Brien, May 20, 1918 March 26, 1970) was an American film actress of the 1930s.

Patricia Ellis
Patricia O'Brien

(1918-05-20)May 20, 1918[1]
(1916-05-20)May 20, 1916[2]
DiedMarch 26, 1970(1970-03-26) (aged 51)
Other namesPatricia Leftwich
OccupationAmerican film actress
Years active19321939
George T. O'Maley (m. 1941)

Early years

Born in Birmingham, Michigan,[1][3] Ellis was the oldest of four children born to Eugene Gladstone O'Brien, a Detroit insurance salesman, and Florence Calkins.[4][5] She was later known as Patricia Leftwich[6] after her step-father, Alexander Leftwich,[7] "an eminent New York producer of musical shows."[8] She had a step-brother, Alexander Leftwich Jr.[7] Her childhood activities included singing and dancing, and she learned French and German.[9]

A 1932 newspaper article said, "Since she was able to walk, Patricia has been familiar with the world of the theater, accompanying her father constantly to rehearsals and performances."[10]

Also in 1932, another newspaper reported, "She understudied all her father's leading women in the last few years, assisted him with lighting and costuming and knows stage production, too."[9]

Ellis attended Brantwood Hall School and Gardner School for Girls[10] and began her stage career after leaving school. She took classes in studio facilities while pursuing her acting career.[11]


Ellis appeared with Chamberlain Browns stock company at Mount Vernon, N.Y., and at the Riviera Theater, New York City.[10]


Given a film test while appearing on stage in New York City,[8] Ellis was put under contract by Warner Bros..[10] In 1932, she had two small parts, both uncredited, in the films Three on a Match and Central Park. That same year, she was one of fourteen girls chosen as WAMPAS Baby Stars; Ellis, at 14, was the youngest. Her first credited role was in the 1933 film The King's Vacation, starring George Arliss and Marjorie Gateson.

After that film, her career took off, with her starring mostly in lower-budget B-movies but still working steadily. She had roles in eight films in 1933, co-starring that year with James Cagney in Picture Snatcher, and in another seven in 1934. She started 1935 off with A Night at the Ritz, in which she had the lead female role, opposite William Gargan.[12]

She starred in seven films that year and another seven in 1936. Starring alongside some of Hollywood's biggest names, including James Cagney, Ricardo Cortez, and Bela Lugosi, Ellis's career was at its peak by 1937. Most of her roles were in comedy films, along with some mysteries and crime dramas, and by 1936 she was playing the female lead in almost all her films. She starred in five films that year, then only three in 1938, and finally just two in 1939.[12]


After her work in film, Ellis ventured into music saying, "I was just getting into a rut in Hollywood. ... I want to start a new career -- singing."[13] She made a soundie in 1941. A review in the trade publication Billboard commented: "Miss Ellis isn't bad on voice and excells (sic) on appearance. Men will pay attention to her."[14] In 1941, she and Blue Barron and his Orchestra were headliners, along with Henny Youngman, at Hamid's Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey[15] and appeared in the top-grossing Broadway hit, Louisiana Purchase, a musical comedy.

Personal life

Ellis retired in 1939 leaving Hollywood behind and on July 12, 1941,[13][16] married George T. O'Maley, a successful businessman from Kansas City, Missouri.[17][18] She settled into private life,[19] raising her family in Kansas City. The O'Maleys had one daughter.[13]


Ellis remained married to O'Maley for the remainder of her life, dying of cancer at age 51 on March 26, 1970, in Kansas City.[20] George O'Maley died thirty years later, in 2000.[21] She was cremated.[2]

Partial filmography


  1. "The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 8, 1935, p.100, "Only 17, But Going Places"".
  2. Wilson, Scott (19 August 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland. Retrieved 24 May 2019 via Google Books.
  3. New York Times (March 28, 1970). "'Patricia Ellis Dies; A Screen Actress'". p. 27.
  4. United States Bureau of the Census (1930). 15th census population, Vol. 168. p. Enumeration District 82–551, Sheet 12-A.
  5. ""Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database with images, image 154 of 355". FamilySearch. county courthouses, Ohio. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  6. Roy Liebman (January 1, 2000). The Wampas Baby Stars: A Biographical Dictionary, 1922-1934. McFarland. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-7864-0756-9.
  7. "The Final Curtain". Billboard. January 25, 1947. p. 43. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  8. "Portrait of Young Girl On Her Way Somewhere". Utah, Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Tribune. October 30, 1932. p. 38. Retrieved December 15, 2015 via
  9. "Baby Role Irks Patricia Ellis; Grown-Up Film Parts Her Goal". North Carolina, Statesville. Statesville Record And Landmark. October 11, 1932. p. 14. Retrieved December 15, 2015 via
  10. "Daughter of Famous Director Is Signed by Picture Company". Montana, Butte. Montana Butte Standard. June 5, 1932. p. 23. Retrieved December 15, 2015 via
  11. "Takes Schoolbooks to Studio". Pennsylvania, Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Times. May 24, 1932. p. 3. Retrieved December 15, 2015 via
  12. Patricia Ellis on IMDb
  13. Wagner, Laura (Fall 2015). "Patricia Ellis: "I'd Like to Do Characters"". Films of the Golden Age (82): 55–56.
  14. "Movie Machine Reviews: Reel 1035" (PDF). Billboard. October 25, 1941. p. 72. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  15. "AC Trade Best in 12 Seasons" (PDF). Billboard. August 9, 1941. p. 50. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  16. "Patricia Ellis Weds in the East" (July 15, 1941). "Los Angeles Times p. A1" via Proquest.
  17. "Join Ancestry". Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  18. "Join Ancestry". Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  19. "Join Ancestry". Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  20. U.S. Social Security Death Index; accessed May 6, 2017.
  21. George O'Maley,; accessed May 6, 2017.
  • Patricia Ellis at AllMovie
  • Patricia Ellis brief bio
  • Patricia Ellis at Virtual History
  • Patricia Ellis O'Brien "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957"
  • Patricia Ellis, evidence supporting 1918 birth year: 1., 1920 US Census Data for Patricia O'Brien, daughter of Eugene and Florence O'Brien, Detroit, Michigan (Patricia Ellis's birthplace, Birmingham, Wayne County, is a suburb of Detroit, Michigan). 2., "Patricia Ellis Feels No Older As She Turns 21" Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), June 15, 1939, p. 20. 3. "Marriage Revealed by Patricia Ellis", Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan), July 15, 1941, p. 4. 4., USS Roma ship manifest, arriving New York October 1, 1937, listed passenger Patricia Ellis O'Brien, age 19, as born May 20, 1918, Detroit, Michigan, and living in Beverly Hills, California. 5. "Hollywood's Youngest Leading Lady" St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri), April 10, 1935, p. 37. 6. "Only 17, But Going Places" Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), December 8, 1935, p. 100. 7. "Patricia Ellis Weds in East", Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), July 15, 1941, p. 23.
  • Patricia Ellis (using her birth name Patricia Gene O'Brien), July 12, 1941 marriage certificate,
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