Dorothy Mackaill


Dorothy Mackaill was an English-born American actress, most notably of the silent film era and into the early 1930s.


Dorothy Mackaill

Dorothy Mackaill

Dorothy Mackaill was born March 4, 1903 in Hull, England. As a teenager, she ran away to London to pursue a stage career as an actress. After temporarily relocating to Paris, Mackaill met a Broadway stage choreographer who persuaded her to move to New York City where she became involved in the Ziegfeld Follies and befriended future motion picture actresses Marion Davies and Nita Naldi. By 1920, Mackaill had began to make the transition from “Follies Girl” to film actress, appearing in her first film, the Wilfred Noy-directed mystery, “The Face at the Window” (1920). She also appeared in several comedies of 1920 opposite actor Johnny Hines and in 1921 she appeared opposite Anna May Wong, Noah Beery, and Lon Chaney in the Marshall Neilan-directed drama “Bits of Life”. In 1924, Mackaill rose to leading lady status in the drama “The Man Who Came Back”, opposite rugged matinee idol George O’Brien. That same year she was awarded the WAMPAS Baby Stars award by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in the United States. MacKaill’s career continued to flourish throughout the remainder of the 1920s, starring in such movies as “Chickie” (1925), “Joanna” (1925), “Shore Leave” (1925), “The Dancer of Paris” (1926), “Just Another Blonde” (1926), and “Man Crazy” (1927).


Louise Brooks, William 'Buster' Collier, Jr., and Dorothy Mackaill in "Just Another Blonde" (1926)

Louise Brooks, William ‘Buster’ Collier, Jr., and Dorothy Mackaill in “Just Another Blonde” (1926)

Mackaill made a smooth transition to sound with the part-talkie “The Barker” (1928) and had success in talkies for the next couple of years. First National Pictures was acquired by Warner Brothers in September 1928, and after making “Safe In Hell” (1931) for Warner Brothers her contract with First National was not renewed. Becoming a free agent, Dorothy made films at Columbia, “Love Affair” (1932); Paramount, “No Man of Her Own” (1932); and MGM “The Chief” (1933). Mackaill made a few films for MGM, Paramount and Columbia before retiring from pictures in 1937 to care for her aging mother. She would occasionally come out of retirement to appear in roles for television, notably in several episodes of the 1960s and 1970s series “Hawaii Five-O”, which was filmed on location where Mackaill had lived for several decades.


Dorothy Mackaill and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in "The Barker" (1928)

Dorothy Mackaill and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in “The Barker” (1928)

Dorothy Mackaill was married three times. In 1926, Mackaill married the successful film director Lothar Mendes, but the union only lasted for two years before ending in divorce. She would marry two more times, from 1931 to 1934 to Neil Miller, and from 1934 to 1938 to Harold Patterson, both of which also ended in divorce. She had no children from any of the marriages.


Dorothy Mackaill in "Safe In Hell" (1931)

Dorothy Mackaill in “Safe In Hell” (1931)

Dorothy Mackaill died at the age of 87 from kidney failure on August 12, 1990 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered at sea off of Waikiki Beach.


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