Carol Dempster

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Carol Dempster
Carol Dempster in Scarlet Days.jpg
Carol Dempster in Scarlet Days (1919)
Born(1901-12-09)December 9, 1901
DiedFebruary 1, 1991(1991-02-01) (aged 89)
OccupationActress
Years active1916–1926
Spouse(s)Edwin S. Larsen (m. 1929–1991)

Carol Dempster (December 9, 1901 – February 1, 1991) was an American actress. She was a silent movie star who appeared in movies from 1916 through 1926. She married a wealthy banker and retired from the movie industry. In her later years she was famous for her philanthropy.

Career[change | change source]

Dempster was born December 9, 1901 in Duluth, Minnesota.[1] She was the youngest of four children. Her father was John W. Dempster and her mother was Carrie M. (Acker) Dempster.[2] Her father changed careers when Carol was still a baby and moved the family to California.[3]

She studied dance at the Ruth St. Denis dancing school.[4] There she was noticed by movie director D. W. Griffith who used her as a dancer in his movie "Intolerance" (1916).[4] Griffith then gave her a role in A Romance of Happy Valley (1919). The movie featured the popular acting team of Robert Herron and Lillian Gish.[3] Dempster's first starring role came in the movie The Girl Who Stayed at Home (1919).[5] Lillian Gish was supposed to get the role, but was reportedly "tired" and Griffith cast Dempster instead. Critics gave Dempster only mild praise.[4] Her first solo starring role was in "The Love Flower" (1920).[6] It was at this time critics began comparing her to Lillian Gish. But it was Griffith who directed her to sound like Gish and his other legendary female stars.[7] It was about this time that Dempster became romantically involved with Griffith.[8] Her first non-Griffith movie was in 1922. She starred in Sherlock Holmes with John Barrymore.[1] Her movie Isn't Life Wonderful? (1924) was well received by critics. She starred in two movies with W. C. Fields for Paramount Pictures, Sally of the Sawdust (1925), and That Royle Girl (1925).[1] Her best performance may have been in her last movie The Sorrows of Satan (1926).[1]

Later life[change | change source]

In July 1929 Dempster was scarred in a car accident in California.[2] A month later she married wealthy investment banker Edwin Skinner Larsen at her rural New York home.[2] After the couple traveled to Europe, Dempster announced her retirement from acting.[2] She and her husband lived in La Jolla, California. She died there on February 1, 1991 from heart failure.[1] Carol Dempster was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery in Glendale, California.[9] Upon her death, Dempster left $1.6 million USD to the San Diego Museum of Art. The money was to add to the museum's collections of prints and drawings.[10] She and her husband had made several previous gifts to the museum. These included Francisco Zuniga's sculpture "Mother and Daughter Seated" and Thomas Eakins' painting "Elizabeth Crowell and her Dog".[10]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Carol Dempster (1901-1991)". GoldenSilents.com. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Carol Dempster". X-Communication/ZenithCity.com. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 David W. Menefee, The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), pp. 41–42
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Tim Lussier. "Carol Dempster". Silents Are Golden. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  5. Denise Lowe, An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930 (New York; Oxford, Routledge, 2013), p. 1958
  6. "Carol Dempster (1901-1991)". goldensilents.com. 2004. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  7. "Carol Dempster; Biography". AllMovie/All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  8. Richard Schickel, D.W. Griffith: An American Life (New York: Limelight Editions, 1996), p. 378
  9. "Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale) - Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale". Visit Museums in USA. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Susan Fruedenheim (October 26, 1991). "Actress Leaves $1.6 Million to Art Museum". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2015.