Filled Under: Anne Shirley
Dawn Evelyeen Paris, known as Anne Shirley, was an American film actress. She began her acting career in 1922 as a child actress under the name Dawn O’Day. Shirley adopted the name of the character she played in Anne of “Green Gables” in 1934 as her screen name and went on to achieve a successful career in supporting roles. Among her films is “Stella Dallas” (1937), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Anne Shirley was born Dawn Evelyeen Paris on April 17, 1918 in New York, New York. She began acting under the name of Dawn O’Day at the age of five and had a highly successful child star career in Pre-Code movies, appearing in such films as Tom Mix’s “Riders of the Purple Sage” (1925); “So Big” (1932) with Barbara Stanwyck and Betty Davis; “Three on a Match” (1932) starring Joan Blondell, Bette Davis, and Ann Dvorak; and “Rasputin and the Empress” (1932) with John Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore, and Lionel Barrymore. In 1934 she starred as the character of Anne Shirley in “Anne of Green Gables”, and took that character’s name as her stage name. After adopting the name Anne Shirley, she starred in “Steamboat ‘Round the Bend” (1935) with Will Rogers and directed by John Ford; “Make Way for a Lady” (1936); and “Stella Dallas” (1937) for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Shirley’s later roles were in such movies as “Saturday’s Children” (1940), “Vigil in the Night” (1940), “Anne of Windy Poplars” (1940), “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (1941), “Music in Manhattan” (1944), and “Murder My Sweet” (1944).
Anne Shirley was married three times. Her first husband was the actor John Payne. They were married in 1937 and divorced in 1943. They had one child together, a daughter, former actress Julie Payne. Shirley married her second husband, producer Adrian Scott, in 1945. When he was blacklisted and decided to move the family to Europe in 1948, she wrote him a “Dear John” letter saying she’d rather stay behind and divorce him. Her third husband was Charles Lederer, nephew of Marion Davies. They were married in 1949 and remained married until his death in 1976. They had a son named Daniel Lederer.
Anne Shirley retired from film in 1944 after making “Murder My Sweet” to marry Adrian Scott. Never tempted to resume her career at any time, she became a charming and gracious socialite in the Hollywood circle. When her third husband Charles Lederer died in 1976, it triggered a severe emotional crisis for Shirley, who turned for a time to alcohol. After she recovered, Shirley then lived the rest of her life completely out of the limelight.
Anne Shirley died July 4, 1993 of lung cancer at age 75 in Los Angeles, California.
For her contributions to the motion picture industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7020 Hollywood Blvd.