Friday, July 24, 2020

Born Today July 24: Marc McDermott


Handsome Australian born actor Marc McDermott was born in Goulbum, New South Wales on this day ("Marc" is simply short for Marcus).  As a young adult, McDermott found himself working in a Sydney hair salon, where he developed an interest in theater through various theater workers who frequented the shop. Starting out as an amateur, he got pulled further and further into stage acting, until he found himself on tour professionally.  This work eventually took him to the London stage and on to to New York in 1902 for stage work there. It was not long before he made his official Broadway debut in 1903. He spent the next six years performing in both London and New York. In 1909 he was approached by the then expanded Edison studio for film acting work, and made his film debut in a J. Searle Dawley directed and adapted Lochinvar opposite Marry Fuller (another film made at the Edison facility in 1909 starring McDermott and Fuller--The House of Cards--was included in the Kino/MoMA 2005 release Edison: The Invention of the Movies and yet another Edison short from 1910 featuring McDermott--The Stenographer's Friend can be found in the box set More Treasures from American Film Archives released in 2004) .  McDermott would remain at for years at Edison, though he does appear November 1909 release of Vitagraph's Les Misérables, directed by J. Stuart Blackton.  Probably his best known early film role came in Edison's 1910 version of Dickens holiday classic A Christmas Carol in the role of Scrooge himself (yet another film preserved for a our viewing pleasure today and released on a disc of silent Christmas classics put out by Kino Video). McDermott was again teamed up with Mary Fuller in 1912 in the very first serial ever produced in the United States in What Ever Happened to Mary was a series of 12 one-reelers; the cast included Bliss Milford and Charles Ogle (McDermott was also a player in another Edison serial: The Man Who Disappeared released in 1914). By 1915, he was appearing in feature length Edison productions--mostly melodramas.  Edison's film company shuttered it's film production operations in 1918, but McDermott left for Vitagraph permanently in 1917, with Builders of Castles, released in spring of 1917, being his last Edison appearance.  He did not stay with the studio long, soon moving on the Fox (he did make one film with Norma Talmadge and her production company in 1919: The New Moon). His first contract film with Fox was a Theda Bara vehicle, Kathleen Mavourneen (1919); the film was directed by Charles Brabin, who would go on to add McDermott to his frequent cast of players.  Throughout the 1920's he was mostly a supporting player in roles ranging from very small to quite large. A few of theses films stand out, including: Hoodman Blind (1923) a lesser known John Ford, Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (1924) a Mary Pickford film, The Sea Hawk (1924), The Lady (1925) another Norma Talmadge film (he was actually in a number of her films in the 1920's), The Temptress (1926) with Greta Garbo and The Taxi Dancer (1927) a New York melodrama with Joan Crawford. By far the biggest production of his career during this time came in Victor Sjöstrom's He Who Gets Slapped in 1924, in the role of Baron Regnard.  His final film was another Charles Brabin project, The Whip; released in September of 1928. McDermott had been visibly ill during the filming of The Whip and succumbed to an illness that eventually was admitted to being cirrhosis of the liver on the 5th of January, 1929 (there appears to have been some odd combination of a misdiagnosis combined with a half-hearted cover up that failed no long after his passing that has led to several different versions of contributory death factors--including an operation, that appears to have never taken place).  He was cremated and interred at the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial in Glendale. He was 57 years old. From 1916 to 1921, he was married to actress Miriam Nesbitt. [Note: there are sources that cite his birth year as 1881, but a number of other sources, along with events in his life in Australia point to his birth year actually being ten years earlier--so I will go with that for now, as his burial plaque contains none of this information]. 

[Source: A.J. (Find A Grave)]

[Source: A. J. (Find A Grave)]


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