Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Born Today March 3: Ethel Grandin


Silent film actress Ethel Grandin was born on the date in New York City. The tiny actress (she was 4'11"!) started on the stage in New York as a child. She made her entrance into motion picture acting in 1911. The Thomas Ince directed melodrama Behind the Times is usually the first of her films listed on filmographies--released in August of 1911; but, she was actually in four films released that month and year. One of those films was the little curiosity that was Dorothy's Family which featured both King Baggot and George Loane Tucker (later famous directors).  By later in the year, her film appearances showed up in some IMP productions (A Toss of A Coin with Mary Pickford, Uncle's Visit with George Loane Tucker); she would become one of the leading faces of IMP (an "IMP Girl").  Ince started directing films with Bison in 1911 and Grandin was thusly put into westerns.  This also necessitated a move westward to California, where she would life the largest portion of her life. Ince was thereafter the director of almost all of her films until 1913. A very frequent co-star of hers was Francis Ford, older brother of the legendary director John Ford (Francis Ford would go on to be a prolific director himself and directed Grandin in the 1912 western The Colonel's Peril and her and himself in The Bandit's Gratitude, Sundered Ties and others).  Of her 100+ film credits, more than 80 of them came between 1912 and 1915, most of them shorts. Not all of her California/Hollywood films were westerns, she also appeared in a number of comedies and a number of melodramas. During this time she acted with a number of names familiar from the time, including:  Robert Edeson, Matt Moore, Ann Little, Irving Cummings and Herbert Brenon. She appeared in just one feature during the period. In 1913 she was cast with Jane Gail, William H. Turner and Matt Moore in Traffic in Souls, a crime drama. Filmed in her old haunt of New York City, it was directed by George Loane Tucker.  By 1915, she was acting films directed by her cinematographer husband Ray C. Smallwood (whose biggest claim to fame for non-film historical buffs is directing Rudolph Valentino in 1921).  Together they formed Grandin films in late 1914, but the venture would not survive long. With her production company and career in short films in the rear view mirror, in 1916 she had the female lead in serial The Crimson Stain Mystery directed by T. Hayes Hunter, acting with Maurice Costello. She made just three more features, all comedies; two in 1921 directed by George D. Baker, and one in 1922 directed by Joseph De Grasse. Her last film was A Tailor-Made Man, released in August of 1922. She then retired, and went into cosmetics; but the married couple remained in Hollywood, with her husband working in the industry through the 1940''s. She lost him in 1964, while she lived until the age of 94. She passed away on the 28th of September in Los Angeles. She is listed as having been interred originally at Valhalla Memorial, but has since been moved to Hollywood Forever. I don't have a date on that (Judy Garland was moved there in 2018,  the cemetery was certainly building a large number of above ground crypts and niches around that time). Her memorial below is the new one.
[Source: Tom Crossman (Find A Grave)]

[Source: Mark Masek (Find A Grave)]

Find a Grave entry (Hollywood Forever)
Find a Grave entry (Valhalla source page)

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