A few years ago, I put together a four-part series about Appalachians in the silent film era entitled, “Appalachians in Moving Pictures.” Every actor’s story provides an interesting insight into the dawn of motion pictures and a place called Hollywoodland. Enjoy the following story about silent film actress Ethlyne Clair. If you’d like to know more, visit the entire series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. The first two parts in the series highlight female actors. The last two are dedicated to male actors.
Ethlyne Clair (Ethlyne Williamson) was born in Talladega, Alabama on November 23, 1904. She won a local beauty contest, which sparked her acting career. In 1929, she became one of the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers (WAMPAS) Baby Star.
She acted in a list of shorts, especially the “Snookum” series. But she was typecast into mostly Westerns with a few comedy movies here and there. She was blackballed by Daryl Zanuck because she “rejected his sexual advances,” which might be one unfortunate reason for her genre limit. Clair grew frustrated that she didn’t have better parts and thought she deserved much better. When “talkies” came around, her voice was deemed unsuitable so “her career was cut short.”1)“her career was cut short” quote from IMDB
She was married three times. In 1928, she married Richard Lansdale Hanshaw, a Hollywood agent. According to Clair, she was forced to marry him at gunpoint. She divorced him soon after. In 1930, she married her make-up artist, Ernest Westmore, but he had too much drama and bad publicity so she divorced him, too. In 1939, she married Merle Arthur Frost, Jr., a car dealer. She stayed married to him until his death in 1968.
Ethlyne Clair died in Los Angeles, California on February 27, 1996 from ulcer surgery complications.
**Featured image of Jobyna Ralston – Creeping Irrelevance
|↑1||“her career was cut short” quote from IMDB|