Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Born Today March 23: Hazel Dawn





Actress of the stage and screen Hazel Dawn was born Henrietta Hazel Tout on this day in Ogden, Utah to a devoutly Mormon family. Her parents became missionaries to Europe around they time she turned seven; by age eight, the family was living in Wales in the U.K. This European relocation allowed young Hazel (always known by her middle name) to study music (voice and violin) in London, Paris and Munich. Though she is known as an actress more than a musician, she was a lifelong accomplished violinist. Music was a family affair as she had a sister (older, I believe) who took up opera singing and performed for a time at the Opera Comique in Paris.  It is not surprising that she was drawn to musical theater, but her name was considered not suitable for stage; the name "Dawn" was suggested to her and she decided to use it.  She made her professional stage debut in the West End at the Prince of Wales theater in 1909. She was then cast in a lead role in 1910 which made a star of her. In 1911, she was again cast a lead role, this time in Belgian composer/writer/theater producer Ivan Caryll's massively popular The Pink Lady; this made her a superstar of the Broadway stage (it was Caryll who suggested her stage name and after the play's success she took to wearing loads of pink fashions and lots of pink cheek rouge...it also highly probably that the famous cocktail of the same name was named for her; her nickname would forever after be "The Pink Lady").  Her performances were further enhanced by her on-stage violin playing. She was just 19 years old at the time.  She was thereafter on the Broadway stage and in comic operetta work at the National Theater in Washington D.C.  through 1914, when she made her film debut in the Famous Players production One of Our Girls in the lead role.  It was her only film that year, but it proved enough of a success that her subsequent films roles for most of her film career were likewise Famous Players productions. The following year would prove to be her most prolific in her short career in film acting and started out with Niobe, a comical tale of a statue come to life with Dawn in the titular role; the film was co-directed by Hugh Ford and Edwin S. Porter.  All of her other films for the year were directed by James Kirkwood who put her into situational dramas of various sorts, two of which featured himself in the male lead. Dawn, though, was always much more of a comedy actress and by 1916, she was finally placed back into comedy work in a film when she starred in the Sidney Olcott directed My Lady Incog.,  which was shot entirely in St. Augustine, Florida. She was back to situational drama for the remaining three films that she made in 1916, two which had her starring opposite Irving Cummins, and the other, Under Cover, with Owen Moore.  She only appeared in one major film in 1917, a gangster melodrama The Lone Wolf; the film was produced and directed by Herbert Brenon and was her first non-Famous Players film; it was also her next to last film, as she thereafter appeared in just one more in her entire film career.  For that, she was the top of bill actor in the Burton George directed melodrama Devotion, that had her acting opposite Elmo Lincoln who much better remembered as Tarzan than as dramatic leading man.  The film was released in July of 1921; that made her absence from motion picture acting four years, the time in-between well spent on the Broadway stage. She quit appearing in films altogether after Devotion and retired from the stage in 1931, coming out of retirement briefly in 1948 to appear, with her namesake daughter, in the staging of Ruth Gordon's play Years Ago in Rhode Island.  The main event that prompted her retirement from the stage was her marriage in 1927 to a very well off mining engineer. She had two children and her daughter Dawn Gruwell obviously had an acting career of her own. She, like her mother, was mostly a stage actress, but she did have a brief career on television in the 1940's and 1950's, going by the tongue and cheek name Hazel Dawn Jr.  Following the death of her husband in 1941, Hazel went to work in the casting department of a an advertising agency, where she worked for twenty years before retiring in 1963.  She lived a very long life thereafter however, passing away in her daughter's New York apartment on the 28th of August at the age of 98! She is buried at the Nassau Knolls Cemetery in Port Washington, New York (located in Nassau county).


[source: FS001 (Find a Grave)]




Find a Grave 

No comments:

Post a Comment