Marie Prevost

Actor, Stenographer
A vivacious, charming leading lady of the silent era, Marie Prevost is, fortunately, remembered for her work in several sparkling Ernst Lubitsch comedies of the 1920s and, unfortunately, also remembered for the grim (if ... Read more »
Born: 11/07/1898 in Sarnia, Ontario, CA

Filmography

Actor (1)

Yankee Doodle in Berlin 1918 (Movie)

(Actor)

Biography

A vivacious, charming leading lady of the silent era, Marie Prevost is, fortunately, remembered for her work in several sparkling Ernst Lubitsch comedies of the 1920s and, unfortunately, also remembered for the grim (if often misrepresented) circumstances of her tragic early demise.

Born in Canada, Prevost relocated to Denver and then Los Angeles while still young. After a very brief stint as a stenographer, Prevost broke into silent films before the age of 18 as one of the "Bathing Beauties" featured "en masse" in so many of Mack Sennett's comedy shorts. Before long the perky brunette was playing leads, especially after she signed with Universal in 1921. She soon became a prominent embodiment of the Jazz Age in films including "Moonlight Follies" (1921) and "The Married Flapper" (1922).

In 1922, Prevost began her tenure at Warner Bros., with whom she would be associated for over four years during the peak of her career. She soon began a 10-film liaison with leading man Monte Blue and also made three films with her greatest director, Ernst Lubitsch. Recently imported from Germany, Lubitsch quickly became the master of Hollywood sex farce, and Prevost was one of the stars of his breakthrough, "The Marriage Circle" (1924). As flirtatious Mizzi, Prevost attempted to seduce a happily married doctor (Blue) away from his wife, to delightfully witty effect. She enjoyed a change of pace with a dual role in the gangster drama "Cornered" (1924), and continued her fine work for Lubitsch in "Three Women" (1924) and "Kiss Me Again" (1925). A portent of the future occurred in the latter, though, as Prevost was almost outshone by rising newcomer Clara Bow.

Prevost didn't possess the sex appeal of Bow or the pep of Colleen Moore, two stars close to her in type, but her popularity continued in the likes of "Getting Gertie's Garter" (1927). She also starred in the first version of a very similar farce, "Up in Mabel's Room" (1926), one of half a dozen co-starring appearances Prevost made with Harrison Ford (no relation to the modern star) after she signed with Producers Distributing Corporation. When her mother was killed in a car accident, though, Prevost became despondent, and took to the drinking which would eventually kill her.

Prevost was not under contract to a big studio when sound came in, and, as the Jazz Age gave way to the Great Depression, the public looked for new faces in its cinema. Cecil B. DeMille's "The Godless Girl" (1929), plagued by production problems, died at the box office, and Prevost began having weight problems as well. Suddenly, she was relegated to supporting roles: In "Three Wise Girls" (1932), Jean Harlow had the allure and Mae Clarke the drama, while a fourth-billed Prevost struggled gamely with the comic relief. She continued to perform well as Joan Crawford's reckless prison pal in "Paid" (1930) and was especially superb as Barbara Stanwyck's wiseacre crony in "Ladies of Leisure" (1930). By mid-decade, though, Prevost was playing bits in major films and larger parts in "Poverty Row" productions. Kenneth Anger's dishy book "Hollywood Babylon" tells of a sensationalized death by starvation in a desperate attempt to lose weight, and of the hungry, trapped dog who resorted to nibbling on her, but it was really a slow decline from changing audience tastes and that actors' bane, alcoholism, which did in a delicious blaze of 20s Flaming Youth.

Relationships

H.C. Gerke

Husband

Kenneth Harlan Actor

Wife
Married 1924, separated not long thereafter Acted together in several films including "The Beautiful and Damned," "The Married Flapper" (both 1922), and "Bobbed Hair" (1925)

Margaret Prevost

Sister
acted in a number of silent films including "The Old Swimmin' Hole" (1921) and "The Fog" (1923) survived Marie

EDUCATION

attended high school in Los Angeles, California

received early education at a convent in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Milestones

1936

Last film, "Cain and Mabel"; played a bit part

1934

With less and less work coming in, Prevost sold her Malibu home and moved into a small apartment located at 6230 Afton Place, near Sunset Blvd. in the middle of Hollywood (date approximate)

1930

Began playing almost exclusively supporting roles in features including "Paid" and "Ladies of Leisure"

1926

Signed with Producers Releasing Corporation; made the first of six films directed by E. Mason Hopper; also began making a series of six films co-starring silent screen actor Harrison Ford

1924

Starred in three films directed by Ernst Lubitsch: "The Marriage Circle" (1924), "Three Women" (1924) and "Kiss Me Again" (1925)

1923

Made first film opposite Monte Blue at Warner Bros., "Brass"

1922

First film for Warner Bros., "The Beautiful and the Damned", based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel

1921

Left Sennett Studios; signed by Universal

1916

Began career in films as a bathing beauty in Mack Sennett comedy shorts; soon promoted to leading lady

Worked briefly as a stenographer before she began working in films

Moved to Los Angeles with her mother and sister after the death of her father

Family moved from Ontario, Canada to Denver, CO while Prevost was still very young

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