Priscilla Dean

Priscilla Dean (November 25, 1896 – December 27, 1987) was an American actress popular in silent film as well as in theatre, with a career spanning two decades.

Priscilla Dean
Dean, 1922
Born(1896-11-25)November 25, 1896
DiedDecember 27, 1987(1987-12-27) (aged 91)
Years active1912–1932
Spouse(s)Wheeler Oakman (m.1920div.1926)
Leslie P. Arnold (m.19281960s; his death)


She was born on November 25, 1896 in Manhattan, New York City to an active theatrical family. Her mother was popular stage actress Mary Preston Dean, Priscilla Dean made her stage debut at the age of four, appearing in plays starring her parents. From then on, she pursued her stage career at the same time as being educated at a convent school until the age of fourteen. Following her leave from school, Priscilla went to work on stage, then tried to get into the movies.

Dean made her film debut at the age of fourteen in one-reelers for Biograph and several other studios. She was finally signed on to Universal (then called IMP) in 1911. She soon gained popularity as the female lead in the comedy series of Eddie Lyons and Lee Moran.

She was propelled to stardom after she appeared in The Gray Ghost in 1917. Following this film, she became very successful in her work. However, when the age of sound dawned, Priscilla's career was severely damaged. She continued to do several low-budget films for minor independent studios during the 1930s, but never regained the popularity she had earned in silent films.

Dean died at her home in Leonia, New Jersey at the age of 91 on December 27, 1987, from injuries related to a fall she had suffered the previous September.[1]


  • In 1918 she became engaged to Eddie Rickenbacker.[2]
  • She married Wheeler Oakman, who was also under contract at Universal and appeared in The Virgin of Stamboul and Outside the Law with Priscilla. They divorced in 1926.
  • She married Leslie P. Arnold on October 6, 1928 in Tijuana, Mexico.[3] He was famous as one of the "Around The World Flyers". He was previously married and divorced, and a court rules that his divorce was invalid, making him a bigamist.[4] A later court decree ruled his divorce valid. Dean and Arnold remained married until his death in the 1960s. She had no children.



  1. Staff. "Priscilla Dean; Screen Actress of Silent Films", Los Angeles Times, February 6, 1988. Accessed May 16, 2016. "Priscilla Dean, considered one of the best of the silent screen actresses, has died at her home in Leonia, a small New Jersey town she retired to more than 50 years ago."
  2. "Priscilla Dean to Marry Aviator". New York Times. October 26, 1918.
  3. "Priscilla Dean Weds Flier. Screen Star Married To Lieut. Arnold, Naval World-girdling Aviator". New York Times. October 7, 1928.
  4. "Arnold Loses On Divorce. Round the World Flier's Decree Is Invalid, Appeal Court Rules". New York Times. April 22, 1930.
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