Saturday, February 25, 2012

Houdini's leading ladies: Marguerite Marsh

I'm going to wrap-up my series on Houdini's leading ladies this weekend by looking back at two co-stars from his 1918 serial, The Master Mystery. First up is Marguerite Marsh, who was born on April 18, 1888 in Lawrence, Kansas. At age 30 Marsh played Eva Brent, daughter of the unfortunate Peter Brent and the love interest to Houdini's Quentin Locke.

Here is her biography from Fandango:

According to legend, D.W. Griffith spotted this dark-haired beauty on the beach at Santa Monica, CA, in the winter of 1911. He could hardly have missed her, according to Linda Arvidson, the director's wife, who, with but a tinge of jealousy, later reported that Marguerite had sported "the most modern black satin bathing suit and high-heeled French slippers." Also according to legend, the newcomer did not entirely believe in the possibilities of film acting and when asked to appear on set for a comedy with Fred Mace instead sent her younger sister, Mae. And it was the blond, waif-like Mae Marsh who went on to cinematic fame and fortune, briefly at least, while Marguerite, who used her middle name of Loveridge at the time, drifted north to Niles, CA, and played in Broncho Billy Anderson Western programmers.

By 1914, Marguerite Loveridge, nicknamed "Lovey," was appearing as second fiddle to real-life cause célèbre Evelyn Nesbit (Thaw) in a Lubin three-reeler, Threads of Destiny, when rescued from near-oblivion by rotund comic Fred Mace, who starred her in his own comedies and wanted to marry her in real life as well. Marguerite routinely turned him down, however, a sad state of affair that reportedly caused the comedian's early death in February of 1917, either by suicide or from a heart attack attributed to crash dieting in a last ditch effort to win her back.
Her own screen career uninspiring at best, Marguerite changed her last name from Loveridge to Marsh in an obvious attempt of riding on her sister's coattails. She was briefly back with Griffith at Fine Arts but then drifted from one studio to another, rather aimlessly and earning reviews that ranged from lukewarm to poor: "While slightly amateurish at times, Marguerite Marsh did rather well in a few well-chosen scenes"; "Miss Marsh did the best she could with an impossible theme"; "Miss Marsh glides through her part mechanically." It was not enough to sustain a career, not to mention a rather extravagant social life, and by the mid-'20s, she was finished, professionally as well as emotionally. When she died from bronchial pneumonia in New York in December of 1925, Marguerite Marsh was all but forgotten. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Houdini cozies up to Marguerite in The Mastery Mystery


  1. Oh dear ... that's all rather tragic really.

  2. It is, isn't it. Along with Jane Connelly, she's the second Houdini leading lady that died before Houdini.

  3. Wow, I didn't know she died so young, or was overshadowed by a sister. How sad!

    And for a 30 year old, she look a LOT younger in "The Master Mystery". Must be the elfin face. :)