Dorothy Davenport

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Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)

Dorothy Davenport (March 13, 1895 – October 12, 1977) was an American actress, screenwriter, film director, and producer who appeared in silent film for Biograph Studios under the direction of D.W. Griffith.

Early career

Davenport's family was well known in the theater. Her grandfather Edward Loomis Davenport was a famous 19th century character actor and the patriarch of the family; his daughter and Dorothy's aunt, Fanny Davenport, was considered one of the great actresses of the time. Her father, Harry Davenport, was a Broadway star. With her background on the stage, she was in her early teens when she started playing bit parts in the fledgling film industry.

By the time she was 17, she was a star at Universal. Davenport was a horsewoman of distinction, and did many of her own stunts in films. While with Universal, she would meet a young actor (and assistant director-gopher-scenariowriter) named Wallace Reid. The two soon became involved in a relationship. They married on October 13, 1913.

Davenport and Reid continued to work together as he directed and starred with her in two films per week for the next year. When Wallace left Universal, Dorothy also left films, only to return in 1916 to appear in a small number of movies.

Later career and husband's death

While filming on location in Oregon for The Valley of the Giants (1919), Wallace Reid was injured in a train wreck. As a remedy for the pain from this injury, studio doctors administered large doses of morphine to Reid to which he became addicted. Reid's health slowly grew worse over the next few years, and he died of the addiction in 1923. After Reid's death, Davenport and Thomas Ince co-produced the film Human Wreckage (1923) with James Kirkwood, Sr., Bessie Love and Lucille Ricksen, a film that dealt with the dangers of narcotics addiction.

Davenport took Human Wreckage on a roadshow engagement, followed up with another "social conscience" picture about excessive mother-love called Broken Laws in 1924, again billed as "Mrs. Wallace Reid" to capitalize on her husband's notorious death. She then produced The Red Kimona (1925) about white slavery. On screen she opens the film in 'silent' narration or prologue. The details of the latter film were so realistic that Davenport was successfully sued.

She would later direct Linda (1929), Sucker Money (1933), Road to Ruin (1934), and The Woman Condemned (1934) and worked as a producer, writer, and dialogue director. Among her last credits are co-author of the screenplay for Footsteps in the Fog (1955), and as dialogue director for The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) with Ginger Rogers.

She and husband Wallace Reid had two children. She was married to him until his death on January 18, 1923. She never remarried.

Dorothy Davenport died at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in 1977 in Woodland Hills, California. She is interred with her husband in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.

Partial filmography

  • His Only Son (1912) actor in short film
  • The Unknown (1915) actor in feature film
  • Human Wreckage (1923) co-producer and star, as "Mrs. Wallace Reid"
  • Broken Laws (1924) producer and star, as "Mrs. Wallace Reid"
  • The Red Kimona (1925) producer and narrator, as "Mrs. Wallace Reid"
  • The Earth Woman (1926) producer, as "Mrs. Wallace Reid"
  • The Satin Woman (1927)
  • Hellship Bronson (1928) actor
  • Linda (1929) director and executive producer
  • The Racing Strain (1932) story (unbilled)
  • Sucker Money (1933) co-director
  • The Road to Ruin (1934) director, writer, actor
  • The Woman Condemned (1934) director
  • Women Must Dress (1935) producer, co-writer
  • Paradise Isle (1937) producer
  • A Bride for Henry (1937) producer
  • Prison Break (1938) screenplay
  • Rose of the Rio Grande (1938) associate producer
  • The Old Swimmin' Hole (1940) writer
  • Curley (1947) writer
  • Who Killed Doc Robbin (1948) writer
  • Francis Joins the WACS (1954) writer
  • Footsteps in the Fog (1955) writer


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        Relation nameRelation typeBirth DateDeath dateDescription
        1Harry DavenportHarry DavenportFather19.01.186609.08.1949
        2Alice  DavenportAlice DavenportMother29.02.186424.06.1936
        3Wallace ReidWallace ReidHusband15.04.189118.01.1923
        4Fanny  DavenportFanny DavenportAunt10.04.185026.09.1898
        5Edward Loomis  DavenportEdward Loomis DavenportGrandfather00.00.181601.09.1877

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