From Cecile B. DeMille’s Hollywood


Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

A Short Bio From Stage Beauty . Net (

Maude Fealy was born Maude Hawke in Memphis, Tennessee on 3rd March, 1881. She was the daughter of Margaret Fealy, an actress of eighteen years standing, and later proprietor of a school of acting in Denver, Colorado. From an early age, Maude would occasionally appear with her mother on stage, so it was perhaps inevitable that she would follow in her mothers footsteps and pursue an acting career. She played in numerous childrens roles until the age of ten, when she was enrolled at the Highlees Academy in Memphis to complete her education.

Returning to the stage at the age of fourteen, she attracted the attention of prominent theatre producer Augustin Daly, who was so impressed at her portrayal of Juliet (in “Romeo and Juliet”) that he signed her to a five year contract. His unfortunate death soon after cancelled that contract however, whereupon she secured the role of ‘Eunice’ in a production of “Quo Vadis” at the New York Theatre (her first stage appearance in that city). Her performance in that role attracted the attention of celebrated actor/playwight William Gillette who invited her, still only sixteen years of age, to become his leading lady.

Gillette specialised in reprising the role of Sherlock Holmes, being virtually synonymous with the character on stage for over thirty years (it was Gillettes characterisation upon which Basil Rathbone would later base his own portrayal). Maude played the leading role of ‘Alice Faulkner’ in a production entitled “Sherlock Holmes”. After a short tour of the eastern USA the production arrived in London, where it opened at the Royal Lyceum in September 1901 and proved a considerable success with a run of over 200 performances. In London, rumours, which were widely reported in the press, began to circulate that Maude and Gillette, some thirty years her senior, had become engaged to be married. These rumours were vehemently denied by Maude’s mother in cablegrams which she sent to news agencies on both sides of the Atlantic and no such marriage ever took place.

After two seasons with Gillette, Maude returned to the USA, where she would spend each of the next few summers in “stock” at Elitch’s Garden in Denver. For the winter seasons, Maude was next engaged as leading lady by E.S. Willard and appeared in a number of roles in his theatre company. Next came a run in “Hearts Courageous” (co-starring with Orin Johnson) at the Broadway Theatre in New York, then in “That Man and I” at the Savoy Theatre in New York.

In 1906 Maude signed to a five year contract with the west coast theatrical producer John Cort. During the term of her contract she would appear in a number of Cort’s productions beginning with ‘The Illusion of Beatrice’ (a comedy by Martha Morton) adding substantially to her already growing reputation.

Maude’s next romantic involvement was with one Lewis Hugo Sherwin, a young Englishman who was at the time working as a drama critic for the Denver Republican. Fearing her mothers reaction, the couple secretly married in July of 1907. Her mothers disapproval was in fact as bitter as before and under pressure from her and Maude’s stepfather, orchestra leader Rafaello Cavello, the couple agreed to live apart for a year. The marriage did not survive the separation and they divorced in September 1909. Only two months later Maude married again, this time seemingly with her mothers approval, to the American actor James Peter Durkin. This marriage would last for eight years before it too ended in divorce.

Maude was by now a well-reknowned stage actress. She was also a petite and stunningly beautiful young woman, her delicate features framed with long dark wavy hair and highlighted by piercing blue eyes. She had already appeared in occasional film roles for the Thanhouser film company when, in April 1913, they signed her to a three year contract to be their leading lady in upcoming productions. Her husband James Durkin also being signed on as a director. Thanhouser obviously viewed Maude’s capture as something of a coup and she was featured in their advertising more than any other player.

The next few years saw Maude dividing her time between film and stage commitments. Her marriage to James Durkin ended in June 1917, and having already split from Thanhouser some time previously, she then set up her own theatre company based in Denver where she produced a number of plays – including one she had penned herself entitled ‘Shadow Lights’.

In January 1920 she married her third husband, John Cort Jr. Unfortunately the union was no better fated than her previous marriages and ended in an anullment in 1923.

Her success on stage continued however, and throughout the 1920’s she continued to be seen in numerous plays across across America. The 1930’s also saw her reappearance on film (although in generally lesser roles than those she had commanded earlier). In the early 1940’s she returned to Denver to teach dramatics, later relocating to Hollywood to do the same, whilst still appearing herself in occasional film roles (mainly for Cecille B. DeMille with whom she had become firm friends). Her last screen appearance was in DeMille’s 1956 epic ‘The Ten Commandments’ for which she also did voiceovers for some of the other players.

When Maude returned to Denver to retire in 1957, she was essentially alone, unmarried, and her mother and stepfather both having died two years previously. The stage had been a major feature of her life and it was not long before she was tempted back to appear in a few more productions before taking her final stage bow in 1961.

Maude Fealy passed away peacefully in her sleep on November 9th, 1971, in Woodland Hills, California (where she had been hospitalised at the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital with arteriosclerosis).

Movie Credits (source
1911 – David Copperfield
1912 – Aurora Floyd
1913 – The Legend of Provence [Sister Angela]
1913 – Moths [Vere]
1914 – Frou Frou [Frou Frou]
1914 – Pamela Congreve
1915 – Bondwomen [Norma Ellis]
1916 – Pamela’s Past
1916 – The Immortal Flame [Ada Forbes]
1917 – The American Consul [Joan Kitwell]
1931 – Laugh and Get Rich [Miss Teasdale]
1937 – Race Suicide
1938 – The Buccaneer [Wife u/c]
1938 – Bulldog Drummond’s Peril [u/c]
1939 – Union Pacific [Woman u/c]
1940 – Emergency Squad [Mother u/c]
1944 – Gaslight [u/c]
1947 – The Unfaithful [Old Maid u/c]
1947 – A Double Life [Woman u/c]
1956 – The Ten Commandments
u/c = uncredited

“Reproduced courtesy of Don Gillan (Copyright),”

Published in: on June 25, 2007 at 7:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

More of the Thanhouser Bio…

With Thanhouser: Maude Fealy appeared in several Thanhouser films in 1911 and 1912, and worked at the New Rochelle studio between stage engagements. She played occasional parts at the time and was not featured in Thanhouser publicity releases or advertisements.

In April 1913, following stage appearances in the road show of The Right Princess, she signed a three-year contract with Charles J. Hite to appear in Thanhouser films. She came to New Rochelle and spent seven weeks with the production company for the film, King René’s Daughter. Her husband, James Durkin, accompanied her and also secured a position with Thanhouser. Parts of June, July, and August were spent back in Denver, where she was on stage at the Lakeside Theatre at Elitch’s Gardens.

Following the stage shows, Miss Fealy and her husband were scheduled to go back to New Rochelle. From there, she would “join the Thanhouser Company on an expedition to Nova Scotia, where Evangeline will be given a most elaborate production in the original locale of Longfellow’s immortal book among ‘the murmuring pines and hemlocks’ of ‘the forest primeval,'” according to a news item.

Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Tennyson’s Elaine were also said to be scheduled. Although The Winter’s Tale had been produced by Thanhouser in 1910, no 1913 version was ever made, nor did the New Rochelle firm ever release films under the titles of Evangeline or Elaine.

A New Rochelle city directory noted that Maude Fealy lived at Beacon Hall, an apartment building adjacent to the Thanhouser studios, in 1913. In 1914 Maude Fealy is not listed, but there is a listing for an Ellen Fealy at 150 Main Street. The New Rochelle Pioneer, October 10, 1914, described her home: “In private life she is Mrs. James Durkin, wife of a Thanhouser director, with whom she scored triumphs in stock on the legitimate stage, and their home is at Home Park, where, with her pets and plants, her art and books, she manages to find life anything but unpleasant. Miss Fealy is now taking a well earned rest from the screen, but those who have seen her work in the past know that there are other triumphs awaiting her.”

She was treated with a queenly respect in Thanhouser publicity and in the trade press 1913-1914, due to her great renown on the stage earlier. Thanhouser films in which she played included Moths, The Legend of Provence, and Frou Frou. She also wrote several scenarios for Thanhouser films. Maude Fealy remained with Thanhouser through middle of summer 1914.

From the look on her face on the cover below, this must have been a VERY dramatic role!!

I find it a little strange that sporting and dramatic news are in the same publication…!


Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 4:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Maude lived a great, long life!

8607_999280363.jpgShortly after her mother’s death in 1955, Fealy returned to Denver from California. She went into semi-retirement in 1957. Fealy remained active by continuing to lecture and perform until 1963. Her last performance took place at the Bonfils Theatre, Denver, in 1963. She performed the title role of Emily Griffith in a historical drama, which she authored. Fealy spent her last two years in California, at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital, a convalescent and retirement institution funded by the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund. She died there in 1971 at the age of 90. Cecil B. DeMille provided in his will for her entombment in the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery Mausoleum, where her mother was interred.


Published in: on May 10, 2007 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Denver Public Library Bio, Part 3

54.jpgFealy’s stepfather, Raffaelo Cavallo, founded and conducted the Cavallo Symphony Orchestra in Denver. He also founded the Pueblo Civic Symphony. While in Denver, he befriended and tutored Paul Whiteman. After her stepfather’s death in 1942, Fealy and her mother relocated to California and opened a studio, the Fealy School of Dramatic Expression and the Fealy Studio of Drama. While living in California during the 1930s, Fealy participated in the Federal Theatre Projects.Under the direction of Gareth Hughs, she enacted excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays.

As an author, Fealy wrote a number of plays, lectures and one-woman shows. Two of her plays in which she acted were Shadow Lights (1917) and The Red Cap (1928). Upon relocating to Denver, Colorado, she opened the Maude Fealy Studio of Speech. Concurrent with teaching and directing, Fealy continued to promote her lecture series on Shakespeare, Dickens, Ibsen, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Women of the Bible. She advertised her one-woman shows on Famous Queens of History, Celebrated Women of the World and her religious and patriotic pageant programs.

Published in: on May 6, 2007 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fealy, Maude

From the Thanhouser Site:

Thanhouser Career Synopsis: A well-known stage actress, Maude Fealy appeared in Thanhouser films intermittently in 1911 and 1912 and with fewer interruptions in 1913 and 1914. She received extensive publicity during her 1913-1914 tenure and was featured in advertising more than any other Thanhouser player. Month after month, advertisements featuring such multiple-reel films as Moths were run in Reel Life, The New York Dramatic Mirror, and elsewhere.

Published in: on May 2, 2007 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Alternative Point of View

Wiki says:

In Denver she met a drama critic from a local newspaper named Lewis Hugo Sherwin. The two married in secret because, as they expected, her domineering mother did not approve. The marriage soon ended in separation and a 1909 divorce following which she immediately married actor James Peter Durkin. That marriage also ended in divorce in 1917, and Fealy became involved in a lesbian love affair with actress Eva Le Gallienne. It was short lived, and soon after this Fealy married again to James E. Cort. This third marriage also ended in a 1923 annulment and would be her last. Rumors indicate that Fealy was lesbian, but that has never been confirmed beyond a doubt. Lesbianism was common in early Hollywood circles. Eva Le Gallienne


Published in: on May 2, 2007 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

More from the Denver Pubic Library

Thanhouse Program

In the early 1900s, Fealy was a feature star with Thanhouser Films. Her film releases include King Rene’s Daughter, Moths, The Woman Pays and Frou, Frou. In the 1950s, Cecil B. DeMille signed Fealy in several of his productions including The Ten Commandments. For over ten years, Maude Fealy did dramatic coaching for Cecil B. DeMille. She trained such actresses as Nanette Fabray and Edwina Booth.

Fealy married Hugo Louis Sherwin in July of 1907. One year later, she divorced him. In 1909, she married James Durkin. That marriage ended in divorce in 1917. Her final marriage in 1923 to James E. Cort was annulled.

Published in: on May 2, 2007 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

From the Denver Public Library, Part 1

Maude Fealy at six months old


Born on March 4, 1881 in Memphis, Tennessee, Maude (Hawk) Fealy started her stage career as a young child. Although varied sources set Maude Fealy’s birth date somewhere between 1881 and 1886, the 1971 newspaper obituaries of her death designate it as 1881. Throughout her theatrical career, Fealy’s publicity promotes her as several years younger than her actual age.

Her mother, Margaret Fealy, divorced Maude Fealy’s father, James Hawk of Memphis. Margaret then took her maiden name of Fealy and Maude also went by her mother’s maiden name. At the age of 3 or 4, she began her stage career in a production of Faust and Marguerite, performing with her mother. Fealy continued to play children’s roles until the age of ten, when she left theatre to attend Highlees Academy in Memphis. At this time, her mother opened the Tabor Grand School of Acting in Memphis, so that she could retire from the stage while Maude Fealy pursued her education.

In 1900, Fealy returned to the stage as Eunice in the New York production of Quo Vadis. This performance was followed by her role of Alice Faulkner opposite William Gillette in Sherlock Holmes. In 1903, Fealy’s photograph won the 1,000 franc prize in the International Contest of the Beauties of the World, sponsored by The Paris Figaro Illustre. Her early career in acting continued with the role of Rosamonde opposite Sir Henry Irving in Becket. During the summers of 1904 through 1913, she starred in summer stock at the Elitch Gardens Theatre in Denver, Colorado. Claiming to be the “Youngest Star on the American Stage” (in a publication by Smith-Brooks Company, Denver, Colorado), she played leading lady to actors such as William Gillette, E.S. Willard and Sir Henry Irving. During a production of Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall at Elitch Theatre, Fealy met and performed with a young Cecil B. DeMille. This began a long professional and personal relationship. To be continued.

Published in: on April 30, 2007 at 8:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Information on Maude from Wiki

Born Maude Hawk in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of actress and acting coach Margaret Fealy. Her mother remarried to Rafaello Cavallo, the first conductor of the Pueblo, Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Maude Fealy lived in Colorado off and on for most of her life. At the age of three, she performed on stage with her mother and went on to make her Broadway debut in the 1900 production of Quo Vadis, again with her mother. Between 1902 and 1905 she frequently toured with Sir Henry Irving’s company in the United Kingdom and by 1907 was the star in touring productions in the United States.04_1_b.jpg

Published in: on April 28, 2007 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment