Filled Under: Phyllis Haver
Phyllis Haver (January 6, 1899 – November 19, 1960) was an American actress of the silent film era.
Haver was born January 6, 1899 in Douglass, Kansas. When she was a child her family moved to Los Angeles, California, then a city of less than half a million people. Haver attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High. After graduating, she played piano to accompany the new silent films in local theaters.
Producer Mack Sennett saw her and hired her to be one of his “Sennett Bathing Beauties”. Between 1916-20 she appeared in more than thirty five short films for Sennett Studios. With her curvy figure and blonde hair she quickly became one of the most popular of Sennett’s bathing beauties.
Haver appeared in “The Balloonatic” (1923) a short starring Buster Keaton. She co-starred with Olive Borden in “Fig Leaves” (1926) and with Victor McLaglen in “What Price Glory” (1926). Haver won rave reviews for her performances as Roxie Hart in Cecil B DeMille’s “Chicago” (1927) opposite Hungarian film actor Victor Varconi. One reviewer called her performance “astoundingly fine,” and added that Haver “makes this combination of tragedy and comedy a most entertaining piece of work.” She also performed in the comedy film “The Battle of the Sexes” (1928) and appeared with Lon Chaney in his last silent film, “Thunder” (1929).
In 1929, Haver married millionaire William Seeman with a service performed by New York Mayor James J. Walker at the home of Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist. They moved into a penthouse in New York City and Haver retired from acting. She said she loved being a wife and never wanted to return to Hollywood. Unfortunately after sixteen years of marriage Haver and Seeman divorced in 1945. The couple had no children.
When Haver married Seeman in 1929, she was still under contract to Cecil B. DeMille. Haver told DeMille she was ending her contract with him under the “Act of God” clause. Stunned, DeMille asked, “What Act of God?” Haver replied, “If marrying a millionaire isn’t an Act of God, I don’t know what is.” DeMille let her go.
Haver lived her later years in relative comfort in Sharon, Connecticut, but as she grew older she became more reclusive. She lived in a large house and rarely had visitors. Her only companion was her longtime housekeeper. Haver reportedly made several suicide attempts and was devastated when her former boss and good friend Mack Sennett died.
On November 19, 1960, just fourteen days after Sennetts death, 61-year-old Phyllis Haver died from an overdose of barbiturates, a suspected suicide. She was found by her housekeeper in her bed, fully dressed and wearing make-up. Haver was buried at Grassy Hills Cemetery in Falls Village, CT.