Selena Royle

Selena Royle (November 6, 1904 – April 23, 1983) was an American actress (of stage, radio, television and film), and later, an author.

Selena Royle
Publicity still from 1948
Born(1904-11-06)November 6, 1904
DiedApril 23, 1983(1983-04-23) (aged 78)
Other namesSelena Royale
OccupationActress, writer
Years active1921-55
Earle Larrimore
(m. 1932; div. 1942)

Georges Renavent
(m. 1948; died 1969)

Early life and career


Royle was born in New York City to playwright Edwin Milton Royle and actress Selena Fetter (April 12, 1860 - May 10, 1955).[1] She had an older sister, Josephine Fetter Royle (1901–1992).

Her mother recounted in a newspaper article that she used to take Selena along with her to her rehearsals and performances. One night, then seven-year-old Selena went missing. While the mother frantically searched for her, holding up act two, the audience became restless. The youngster finally turned up - she had gone on stage dressed in her mother's second-act costume; she made a bow, much to the audience's amusement. She later remarked, "And that is the first time I was ever on stage, and I liked it so well I stayed."[1]

Her father wrote the 1921 Broadway play Lancelot and Elaine to provide both her and sister Josephine with their first professional roles,[1] as Guinevere and Elaine respectively.[2] Eventually, she landed a part on her own in the 1923 Theatre Guild production of Peer Gynt, with Joseph Schildkraut, and became a respected Broadway actress. She made one film in the 1930s, Misleading Lady, but otherwise worked on the stage and on radio.

Royle began her radio career in 1926 or 1927 and performed "almost continuously since", according to a 1939 newspaper item.[3]

Her body of work includes playing the title role in Hilda Hope, M.D. She also played Martha Jackson in Woman of Courage, Mrs. Allen in Against the Storm, Joan in The O'Neills, and Mrs. Gardner in Betty and Bob,[4] and appeared in Kate Hopkins, Angel of Mercy.

In the 1940s, she returned to film and had a successful run, mainly playing maternal characters such as the bereaved mother of The Fighting Sullivans (1944), mother to Jane Powell in the big screen adaptation of A Date with Judy (1948) and the title character's mother opposite Ingrid Bergman as Joan of Arc (1948).[5]


She made several appearances on early television. However, in 1951, she refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. She sued the American Legion, which had published Red Channels, in which her name was listed, and won but her acting career ended. She made only three more roles, the last being Murder Is My Beat (1955).[5]


She also wrote several books, including Guadalajara: as I Know It, Live It, Love It (which went through several editions) and a couple of cookbooks,[6] and some magazine articles.[7] She was the "radio editor" of the short-lived New York periodical Swank.[7]

Personal life and death

During the early Depression, Selena Royle and Elizabeth Beatty started the Actors Free Dinner Club in Union Church on West 48th Street. It was organized so that those who came to volunteer and those who came out of necessity were indistinguishable from each other.

Her first husband was Earle Larrimore, a cousin of actress Laura Hope Crews. They married in 1932 and divorced in 1942. She was married to actor Georges Renavent from 1948 until his death in 1969.

Royle died in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on April 23, 1983, aged 78.

Complete filmography

See also


  1. "Selena Royle profile". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. April 14, 1923 via
  2. Lancelot and Elaine at the Internet Broadway Database
  3. "Actress on Air Waves For 13-Year Period". The Evening News. August 5, 1939 via
  4. "Saturday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 13 (5): 54. March 1940. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  5. "Actress Selena Royle Dies in Mexico at 78". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Associated Press. May 6, 1983 via
  6. "Selena Royle Books". Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  7. "Actress-Author Shows Herself Skilled Bandage-Maker, Too". The Salt Lake Tribune. March 18, 1944 via
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