Ethel Clayton
Ethel Clayton was an American actress of the silent film era.


Clayton's screen debut came in 1909, in a short called Justified. She jockeyed her early film appearances with a burgeoning stage career. Her pretty blond looks were reminiscient of the famous Gibson Girl
Gibson Girl
The Gibson Girl was the personification of a feminine ideal as portrayed in the satirical pen-and-ink-illustrated stories created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during a 20-year period spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States.Some people argue that the...

 drawings by Charles Dana Gibson
Charles Dana Gibson
Charles Dana Gibson was an American graphic artist, best known for his creation of the Gibson Girl, an iconic representation of the beautiful and independent American woman at the turn of the 20th century....

. On the stage she appeared mainly in musicals or musical reviews such as The Ziegfeld Follies of 1911. These musical appearances indicate a singing talent Clayton may have possessed but went unused in her many silent screen performances.

In 1912 she appeared in "The Country Boy" on stage at the Lyceum Theatre in Rochester New York and made her feature length film debut in For the Love of a Girl. The film was directed by Barry O'Neil. She was cast with Harry Myers, Charles Arthur, and Peter Lang. She was also directed by William Demille, Robert G. Vignola
Robert G. Vignola
Robert G. Vignola Robert G. Vignola Robert G. Vignola (August 5, 1882 - October 25, 1953 was an Italian-born American actor, screenwriter and film director in American cinema. He made a handful of sound films in the early years of talkies but his career essentially ended in the silent era...

, George Melford
George Melford
George H. Melford was an American stage and film actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.-Career:...

, Donald Crisp
Donald Crisp
Donald Crisp was an English film actor. He was also an early motion picture producer, director and screenwriter...

, Dallas M. Fitzgerald, and Clifford Sanforth. Like many silent film actors Clayton's career was hurt by the coming of sound to motion pictures. She continued her career in small parts in movies until she retired in 1948. Her screen credits number more than 180.

Personal life

In 1931, Clayton obtained a California Superior Court order enjoining her former business partner, W.L. Rucker, from disposing of 316 pearls. Clayton and Rucker agreed to purchase a cosmetics business and the pearls had been entrusted to Rucker to raise money. The deal fell through and he refused to return the jewels. Rucker admitted to possessing the pearls but claimed they had been pledged as security for a $125 loan. The pearls were valued at $20,000.


Clayton was first married to actor-director Joseph Kaufman
Joseph Kaufman
Joseph Kaufman was an American silent film actor and director prominent during the WW1 years. He was born in Washington, D.C. and died in New York City in the Influenza pandemic of 1918. His wife was silent film star Ethel Clayton. Kaufman started out as an actor appearing on Broadway in 1903 with...

 until his death in 1918 in the Spanish Influenza epidemic. She later married silent film actor and former star Ian Keith
Ian Keith
-Life and career:Born Keith Ross in Boston, Massachusetts, Ian Keith was a veteran character actor of the legitimate theater, and appeared in a variety of colorful roles in silent features of the 1920s. His stage training made him a natural choice for the new "talking pictures"; he played John...

 twice and they divorced twice. In both cases Clayton cited cruelty and excessive drinking. Clayton and Keith were first married in Minneapolis
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis , nicknamed "City of Lakes" and the "Mill City," is the county seat of Hennepin County, the largest city in the U.S. state of Minnesota, and the 48th largest in the United States...

 in 1928 and first separated on January 13, 1931.


Ethel Clayton died on June 6, 1966 at St. John's Hospital in Oxnard, California
Oxnard, California
Oxnard is the 113th largest city in the United States, 19th largest city in California and largest city in Ventura County, California, by way of population. It is located at the western edge of the fertile Oxnard Plain, and is an important agricultural center, with its distinction as the...

, aged 83. She was buried at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura, California
Ventura, California
Ventura is the county seat of Ventura County, California, United States, incorporated in 1866. The population was 106,433 at the 2010 census, up from 100,916 at the 2000 census. Ventura is accessible via U.S...


For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Ethel Clayton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame consists of more than 2,400 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California...


Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1909 Gratitude
1910 The Tout's Remembrance
1912 The Wonderful One-Horse Shay The Widow Hubbard
1913 The Price Demanded Rose
1914 The House Next Door Ulrica Cotswolt
1915 The College Widow Jane Witherspoon
1916 Dollars and the Woman Madge Hilyer
1917 The Bondage of Fear Vesta Wheatley
1918 The Man Hunt Betty Hammond
1919 More Deadly Than the Male Helen O'Hara
1920 Crooked Streets Gail Ellis
1921 Exit the Vamp Marion Shipley
1922 If I Were Queen Ruth Townley
1923 The Remittance Woman Marie Campbell
1925 Lightnin'
Lightnin' is a 1925 comedy film directed by John Ford. It was based on a successful play that played 1,291 performances starting in 1918 at the Gaiety Theatre...

Margaret Davis
1926 The Merry Widower Stupid Bitch
1927 The Princess from Hoboken
The Princess from Hoboken
The Princess from Hoboken is a 1927 comedy film directed by Allen Dale and featuring Boris Karloff.-Cast:* Edmund Burns - Terence O'Brien* Blanche Mehaffey - Sheila O'Toole* Ethel Clayton - Mrs. O'Brien* Lou Tellegen - Prince Anton Balakrieff...

Mrs. O'Brien
1928 Mother Machree
Mother Machree
Mother Machree is a 1928 silent film, directed by John Ford, based on a novel by Rida Johnson Young about a poor Irish immigrant in America. John Wayne had a minor role in the film.-Cast:* Belle Bennett as Mother Machree...

Undetermined role Uncredited
1930 Hit the Deck
Hit the Deck (1930 film)
Hit the Deck is a 1930 musical film directed by Luther Reed, starred Jack Oakie, and featured Technicolor sequences. It was based on the musical Hit the Deck. It was one of the most expensive productions of RKO Radio Pictures up to that time, and one of the most expensive productions of 1930. This...

Mrs. Payne
1932 The Crooked Circle
The Crooked Circle (1932 film)
The Crooked Circle is a 1932 American film, a comedy-mystery directed by H. Bruce Humberstone.In 1933, it became notable as the first feature film shown on television...

1933 Secrets
Secrets (film)
Secrets is a 1933 Western film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Mary Pickford in her last film role. The film is a remake of Secrets , a silent film starring Norma Talmadge....

Audrey Carlton as an adult
Let's Fall in Love
Let's Fall in Love (film)
Let's Fall in Love is a 1933 romantic musical film starring Edmund Lowe and Ann Sothern. Released by Columbia Pictures, the film was directed by David Burton and written by Herbert Fields....

Actress Uncredited
1936 Easy to Take Relative Uncredited
1937 Souls at Sea
Souls at Sea
Souls at Sea is a 1937 seafaring film starring Gary Cooper and George Raft. The movie features Frances Dee, Harry Carey, Robert Cummings, George Zucco, Joseph Schildkraut, Paul Fix, and Tully Marshall, and was directed by Henry Hathaway. The title of this film was spoofed in the Laurel and Hardy...

Passenger Uncredited
1938 The Big Broadcast of 1938
The Big Broadcast of 1938
The Big Broadcast of 1938 is a Paramount Pictures film featuring W.C. Fields and Bob Hope. Directed by Mitchell Leisen, the film is the last in a series of Big Broadcast movies that were variety show anthologies...

Woman Uncredited
You and Me Woman Uncredited
1939 The Sap Takes a Wrap Mrs. Wallace
1941 New York Town
New York Town
New York Town is a 1941 romantic comedy film directed by Charles Vidor and starring Fred MacMurray, Mary Martin, Akim Tamiroff and Robert Preston...

Minor role Uncredited
1942 Beyond the Blue Horizon Guest at Chase's Residence Uncredited
1943 Dixie
Dixie (film)
Dixie is a 1943 Technicolor biographical film of American songwriter Daniel Decatur Emmett, starring Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. The movie is a musical directed by A. Edward Sutherland.The movie was only a moderate success and received mixed reviews...

Woman Uncredited
1944 Henry Aldrich's Little Secret Uncredited
1946 The Blue Dahlia
The Blue Dahlia
The Blue Dahlia is a 1946 film noir, directed by George Marshall and written by Raymond Chandler. The film marks the third pairing of stars Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.-Plot:...

Undetermined minor role Uncredited
1947 The Perils of Pauline
The Perils of Pauline (1947 film)
The Perils of Pauline is a 1947 American film directed by George Marshall and released by Paramount Pictures. The movie is a fictionalized Hollywood account of silent film star Pearl White's rise to fame, starring Betty Hutton as White....

Lady Montague in Show Uncredited

External links

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