Ingenue actress of silent cinema Marguerite Gabrielle Courtot was born on this day in Summit, New Jersey to French speaking immigrant parents. She is yet another actress from the silent era that we have many high quality photographs of because she started out as a model when she was nearly 15 years of age. It was not long before her image also made it's way into film. She was hired by Kalem in the spring of 1913 and made her film debut in a Robert Vignola short shot in Jacksonville, Florida: The War Correspondent . She made 12 film appearances in that year alone. Some three-fourths of her relatively short film career were spent at the Kalem company, with whom she stayed through part of 1916. At the company, she acted in nearly 40 films, the last of which was The Dead Alive in which she took top billing. A few stand outs from her time with the studio include The Vampire (1913) in which she plays the sweetheart to Alice Hollister's vamp Sybil, the niece in the Tom Moore directed early science fiction film The Secret Room (1915) [as well as appearances in a few of Moore's films for the studio each based on one of the ten commandments], and a series of short adventure films that were packaged by Kalem as The Ventures of Marguerite. Before her next studio contract, she made one film for the American wing of Gaumont, starring in (and with a prominent poster to match!) the feature length melodrama Feathertop loosely based on a Nathaniel Hawthorne story. She next landed at Famous Players right around the time of it's merger with the Lasky company in 1916; her first film with them was Rolling Stones, directed by Dell Henderson. Her appearances in films by the ever changing name of the company that would become Paramount were interspersed with independent company productions by the likes of Charles H. France, Arrow Films and Guy Empey Productions--even one very late Edison. In 1920 she joined George B Seitz's company to make serials, the first of which was Pirate Gold. Without a doubt the most famous film (to us today, that is) she appeared in was Down to the Sea in Ships, though she and her husband to be Raymond McKee were in the lead roles, one Clara Bow virtually dominates the film as the daughter. The film is so well known to us today because it has come down to us intact and has been fully restored (and is readily for viewing)--at the time that it was made, however the film was bit of a curiosity (produced by the Whaling Film Corp). Courtot married McKee in spring of 1923 and she appeared in just four more films after Ships. She was the female lead in all four and the headliner in one--so she was definitely in demand, but she wanted to retire to a home life, which she did in 1924. Her last film was Men, Women and Money released in August of 1924 and produced by the independent Lester Park Productions. She then retired from acting altogether. The couple lived in Long Beach, California at the time of their deaths. MeKee passed away in 1984 and Marguerite followed him two years later on the 28th of May at the age of 88. They are both buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.
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