Victorian Beauty Maude Fealy
Actress/dramatic teacher Maude Fealy, the daughter of actress Margaret Fealy, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 3, 1881. Maude made her acting debut at three years of age in one of her mother’s productions, “Faust”. She was quite successful over the next few years, appearing in productions all over the US and Canada. In 1901 she toured
England and was rumored to be engaged to actor William Gillette, but she denied the story and there was never any marriage. In 1907 she married a young Englishman, Louis Sherwin, who was a drama critic for a Denver newspaper. However, her parents were dead set against the marriage and took every opportunity to break it up. They eventually succeeded, and the couple divorced in 1909. Later that year she married an actor, James Durkin, who was more acceptable to her parents. The couple later formed the Fealy-Durkin Stock Co., a traveling acting troupe.
She agreed to make films with the Thanhouser Co. in 1911, and appeared in a few films in between her stage work. In 1913 she signed a three-year contract with the studio, appearing in such films as Moths (1913) and The Legend of Provence (1913). Her husband was hired by Thanhouser as a director. However, both she and Durkin left the company in 1914, before her contract ended, and they returned to the stage. In 1916 she appeared in The Immortal Flame (1916) for low-budget Ivan Films. In December of that year she signed with Jesse Lasky Picture Co., and stayed with them for a year. She then returned to the stage, starting her own stock company in Denver, Colorado, and touring the US in various productions well into the 1920s.
In the 1930s she returned to Hollywood and resumed her friendship with director Cecil B. DeMille, with whom she had worked when De Mille was a stage actor. He, in turn, gave her parts in many of his films. She stayed in Hollywood until the early 1940s, when she returned to Denver and began an acting school. Later she returned to Hollywood and opened an acting school there (Nanette Fabray was one of her students). She still made occasional appearances in films, mainly those of her friend De Mille (The Ten Commandments (1956) was one of them).
In 1957 she finally retired and moved back to Denver, but still kept her hand in the theater, appearing in the occasional play and lecturing at a local college.
She died on November 8, 1971, at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, California, where she had been getting treatment for arteriosclerosis. Her funeral and burial expenses were paid by her longtime friend, Cecil B. De Mille–he had died in 1959 but left a provision in his will for such expenses for her when they were needed.
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