Mary Astor

Actor, Photographer's model, Novelist
Groomed from childhood to be a star, Mary Astor fulfilled that dream and proved to be an exceptional performer. Beauty contest exposure and an exceptionally camera-friendly face earned her an invitation to Hollywood and ... Read more »
Born: 05/03/1906 in Quincy, Illinois, USA

Filmography

Actor (59)

Meet Me in St. Louis 1977 (Movie)

Mrs. Anna Smith (Actor)

Youngblood Hawke 1963 (Movie)

Irene Perry (Actor)

Return to Peyton Place 1961 (Movie)

Roberta Carter (Actor)

Stranger in My Arms 1958 (Movie)

Virgily Beasley (Actor)

This Happy Feeling 1958 (Movie)

Mrs Tremaine (Actor)

A Kiss Before Dying 1956 (Movie)

Mrs Corliss (Actor)

The Power and the Prize 1956 (Movie)

Mrs George Salt (Actor)

The Philadelphia Story 1954 - 1955 (TV Show)

Actor

Any Number Can Play 1949 (Movie)

(Actor)

Act of Violence 1948 (Movie)

Pat (Actor)

Little Women 1948 (Movie)

Marmee March (Actor)

Across the Pacific 1941 (Movie)

Alberta Marlow (Actor)

The Maltese Falcon 1941 (Movie)

Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Actor)

The Palm Beach Story 1941 (Movie)

The Princess Centimillia (Actor)

Midnight 1938 (Movie)

Helene Flammarion (Actor)

Hurricane 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Prisoner of Zenda 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

Dodsworth 1935 (Movie)

Edith Cortright (Actor)

Red Dust 1931 (Movie)

Barbara Willis (Actor)

Two Arabian Knights 1926 (Movie)

Anis bin Adham/Mirza (Actor)

And So They Were Married (Movie)

Edith Farnham (Actor)

Behind Office Doors (Movie)

Mary Linden (Actor)

Brigham Young (Movie)

Mary Ann Young (Actor)

Cass Timberlane (Movie)

Queenie Havock (Actor)

Claudia and David (Movie)

Elizabeth Van Doren (Actor)

Cynthia (Movie)

Louise Bishop (Actor)

Desert Fury (Movie)

Fritzie Haller (Actor)

Don Q, Son of Zorro (Movie)

Dolores de Muro (Actor)

Fiesta (Movie)

Senora Morales (Actor)

Forever After (Movie)

Jennie Clayton (Actor)

Holiday (Movie)

Julia Seton (Actor)

Hollywood (Movie)

Bit Part (Actor)

In This Our Life (Movie)

(Actor)

John Smith (TV Show)

Actor

Ladies Love Brutes (Movie)

Mimi Howell (Actor)

Listen, Darling (Movie)

Dottie Wingate (Actor)

Man Against Man (Movie)

Cynthia Holland (Actor)

No Time to Marry (Movie)

Kay McGowan (Actor)

Oh, Doctor (Movie)

Dolores Hicks (Actor)

Smart Woman (Movie)

Nancy Gibson (Actor)

Straight from the Heart (Movie)

Marian Henshaw (Actor)

The Great Lie (Movie)

Sandra Kovac (Actor)

The Kennel Murder Case (Movie)

Hilda Lake (Actor)

The Little Giant (Movie)

Ruth Wayburn (Actor)

The Lost Squadron (Movie)

Follette Marsh (Actor)

The Man Who Played God (Movie)

Young Woman (Actor)

The Man with Two Faces (Movie)

Jessica Wells (Actor)

The Rough Riders (Movie)

Dolly (Actor)

The Royal Bed (Movie)

Princess Anne (Actor)

The Sea Tiger (Movie)

Amy (Actor)

The Sin Ship (Movie)

Kitty Marsden (Actor)

The World Changes (Movie)

Virginia (Actor)

There's Always a Woman (Movie)

Lola Fraser (Actor)

Those We Love (Movie)

May Ballard (Actor)

Thousands Cheer (Movie)

Hyllary Jones (Actor)

Trapped by Television (Movie)

Bobby Blake (Actor)

White Shoulders (Movie)

Norma Selbee (Actor)

Woman-Proof (Movie)

Violet Lynwood (Actor)

Young Ideas (Movie)

Jo Evans (Actor)

Biography

Groomed from childhood to be a star, Mary Astor fulfilled that dream and proved to be an exceptional performer. Beauty contest exposure and an exceptionally camera-friendly face earned her an invitation to Hollywood and Astor gradually moved from supporting assignments to leads in such major silent films as "Beau Brummel" (1924), "Don Q Son of Zorro" (1925), and "Don Juan" (1926). She easily made the jump to sound pictures and displayed her versatility in everything from the sizzling "Red Dust" (1932) to the elegant "Dodsworth" (1936) to the screwball classic "Midnight" (1939). However, she was truly indelible as the deceitful heroine of "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) and gave an Oscar-winning barnstormer of a performance in "The Great Lie" (1941) that managed to overshadow the rarely dwarfed Bette Davis. In between the triumphs, Astor dealt with much adversity, including the money-grubbing machinations of her parents, several failed marriages, infidelity charges, a suicide attempt, and a penchant for alcohol that plagued her for two decades. She publically aired those problems in the autobiography My Story (1959), the success of which helped to launch a new career for Astor as a novelist at a time when her movie career was coming to a close. Thanks to the enduring love for "The Maltese Falcon" (1941), it would almost certainly be Astor's best remembered credit, but her considerable dramatic and comedic abilities were on full view during virtually all phases of a commendable career that spanned four decades.

Relationships

Otto Ludwig Wilhelm Langhanke

Father
German immigrant taught German in high school in Quincy, Illinois acted as his daughter's business manner in the 1920s and 30s in 1934 sued Astor for non-support died in 1943

Anthony Paul Del Campo

Son
born on June 5, 1939 in Los Angeles, California

John Barrymore

Companion
reportedly fell in love when they co-starred together in "Beau Brummel"

Manuel Campo

Husband
married in February 1937 divorced in 1941

Kenneth Hawks Director

Husband
Married from February 1928 until his death in a plane crash on January 2, 1930 brother of Howard Hawks

George Kauffman

Companion
affair with Kauffman was made public when her diaries were read in court during divorce proceedings from Thorpe

George S Kaufman Play as Source Material

Companion

Helen Langhanke

Mother
forced to support family after rise of anti-German sentiment during WWI in 1934 sued Astor for non-support

Franklyn Thorpe

Husband
married on June 29, 1931 divorced on April 12, 1935 given custody of daughter Marylyn Astor sued and was awarded custody for 3/4 of each year

Marylyn Thorpe

Daughter
born in June 1932 in Honolulu, Hawaii

Thomas Wheelock

Husband
married in December 1945 separated in the early 1950s divorced in 1955

EDUCATION

home-schooled by her parents

Milestones

1980

Profiled in cover story of Life magazine, "Whatever Became of Mary Astor and Other Lost Stars?"

1976

Moved to Motion Picture Country Home

1970

Wrote second memoir "A Life on Film"

1964

Final film, "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte"; made cameo appearance as a blackmailed murderer; co-starred with Bette Davis

1961

Portrayed the overpossessive mother of Brett Halsey in the sequel "Return to Peyton Place"

1959

Published "My Story, An Autobiography"

1956

Returned to films after seven years to play Robert Wagner's mother in "A Kiss Before Dying"

1956

Moved back to Los Angeles

1956

Toured in Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell", directed by Agnes Moorehead

1954

TV acting debut in "The Missing Years" on "Kraft Television Theater" (ABC)

1952

Toured the USA in the stage play "The Time of the Cuckoo"

1951

Struggling with alcoholism, attempted suicide; later joined Alcoholics Anonymous and converted to Catholicism

1949

Cast as Marmee in remake of "Little Women"; Astor was so disillusioned with studio she asked to be released from her contract

1948

Portrayed a woman of questionable virtue in the noirish "Act of Violence"

1946

Loaned to Fox to co-star in "Claudia and David"

1943

Played the matriarch of the Smith family in the charming slice of Americana "Meet Me in St. Louis"

1943

Broadway debut in the ill-fated "Many Happy Returns"

1942

Signed seven-year contract with MGM in part for the financial security; later came to regret decision as studio only seemed to cast her in matronly parts which she dubbed "The Metro Mothers"

1941

Reteamed with Bogart in "Across the Pacific"

1941

Donned an ill-advised blonde wig as a much-married socialite in the comedy "The Palm Beach Story"

1940

Cast in what is arguably her best-known role, the shady Brigid O'Shaughnessy in "The Maltese Falcon" opposite Humphrey Bogart

1940

Won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing a concert pianist in "The Great Lie"; film starred Bette Davis

1939

Reunited onscreen with John Barrymore in "Midnight"; was pregnant during filming

1938

Played Judy Garland's widowed mother in "Listen Darling"

1937

Returned to the stage as star of three one-acts by Noel Coward, "Tonight at 8:30", "The Astonished Heart" and "Still Life"

1937

Co-starred in "The Prisoner of Zenda" and "The Hurricane"

1936

Delivered a memorable supporting turn as an American expatriate in "Dodsworth"

1936

Made headlines when her 1929-1934 diary was introduced in divorce proceedings; the journal reportedly contained passages of her lovers in explicit detail; Astor always maintained that the pages introduced in court were forgeries

1933

Played a murder suspect in "The Kennel Murder Case", a Philo Vance mystery starring William Powell as the detective

1932

Cast as an unfaithful wife in "Red Dust"

1930

Co-starred as Julia Seton in the first screen version of Philip Barry's play "Holiday"

1930

First sound feature "Ladies Love Brutes"

1928

Loaned to Fox for "Dressed to Kill"; later signed contract with Fox

1926

Named a Wampas Baby Star

1925

Signed by Warner Bros.

1924

Career boosted when she was reportedly requested by John Barrymore to play opposite him in "Beau Brummel" (produced at Warner Bros.) and "Don Juan"; they supposedly fell in love on the set

1923

Moved to Hollywood

1922

Feature acting debut in "John Smith"

1921

Film debut in a dream sequence of the film "Sentimental Journey"; cut from final print

1921

First screen appearance in title role of the short "The Beggar Maid"

1920

Family moved to NYC

1919

Submitted photograph to contest sponsored by Motion Picture magazine; moved to Chicago when placed among finalists but was deemed too young

Released by Fox when she failed a sound test; the equipment distorted her voice and made her sound more masculine

Posed for a series of photographs titled "The Madonna Child" for Charles Albin; caught attention of talent scout who put her under six-month contract with Paramount; name changed to Mary Astor

Re-signed by Paramount to a $500 a week contract

Made frequent appearances on TV programs

Co-starred in the L.A. stage production "Among the Married" alongside Florence Eldridge and Edward Everett Horton

Moved to NYC

Began appearing on radio programs such as "Lux Theatre", "Screen Actors Guild" and "Suspense"

Raised in Illinois

Played Norma Desmond in TV version of "Sunset Boulevard"; also acted in "The Women" and two separate versions of "The Philadelphia Story"

Had to turn down and opportunity to star in film version of "Blithe Spirit" as MGM would not loan her

Returned to Broadway opposite Eve LeGallienne in "The Starcross Story"

Bonus Trivia

.

Reportedly, Astor's part in "The Great Lie" was built up at the insistence of co-star Bette Davis in an attempt to salvage a weak script.

SIMILAR ARTICLES

Next >