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Marie Prevost (November 8, 1898 - January 23, 1937) was a Canadian actress. Born Mary Bickford Dunn in Sarnia, Ontario, she was educated in a Catholic convent school in Montreal, Quebec. Following the early death of her beloved father, she moved with her mother and sister to Los Angeles, California. While working as a secretary, the girl applied and obtained an acting job at the Hollywood studio owned by fellow Canadian Mack Sennett. Himself from a small town outside Montreal, Mack Sennett dubbed her as the exotic French girl, adding Mary Dunn to his collection of bathing beauties under the stage name of Marie Prevost.
Placed in numerous minor comedic roles as the sexy, innocent young girl, she worked in several films for Sennett's studio until 1921 when she signed with Universal Studios. At Universal, Marie Prevost was still relegated to light comedies and after making only eight films she left to sign with Warner Brothers in 1922. It was there that she got her first big break appearing in a standout role in the F. Scott Fitzgerald story, "The Beautiful and the Damned." Her performance brought good reviews and director Ernst Lubitsch chose her for a major role opposite Adolphe Menjou in "The Marriage Circle." Of her performance as the beautiful seductress, Ernst Lubitsch said that she was one of the few actresses in Hollywood who knew how to underplay comedy to achieve the maximum effect.
This impressive performance, praised by the New York Times, resulted in Lubitsch casting her in "Three Women" in 1924 and in "Kiss Me Again" the following year. But, just when her career was blossoming, tragedy struck her family again in 1926. While her mother was traveling in Florida with actress Vera Steadman and another Canadian friend, Hollywood studio owner, Al Christie, an automobile accident took her mother's life. Devastated, the loss of her only remaining parent led to an addiction to alcohol and to Marie Prevost's own ultimate destruction.
She tried to get past her personal torment by burying herself in her work, becoming one of the busiest actresses of the day, starring in numerous roles as the temptingly beautiful seductress who in the end was always the honorable heroine. However, her depression caused her to binge on food resulting in significant weight gain. By the 1930s she was working less and less being offered only secondary parts, frequently in humiliating roles as a cheap-talking floozy. As a result of all this, her income declined and her growing dependency on alcohol added to her weight problems. By 1934, she had no work at all and her financial situation deteriorated dramatically. The downward spiral became greatly aggravated when her weight problems forced her into repeated crash dieting in order to keep whatever bit part a movie studio offered.
At the age of 38, almost penniless, and living alone in a rundown apartment house, Marie Prevost died of alcoholism and malnutrition. Her body was not discovered for days, and the police report stated that her pet dachshund "had chewed up her arms and legs in a futile attempt to awaken her." Her pauper's burial place is unknown.
After having performed in 105 films Marie Prevost has now been honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6201 Hollywood Blvd.
Some of Marie Prevost's films:
- Two Crooks - (1917)
- Her Nature Dance - (1917)
- She Loved Him Plenty - (1918)
- His Smothered Love - (1918)
- His Hidden Purpose - (1918)
- Hide and Seek Detectives - (1918)
- The Village Chestnut - (1918)
- Yankee Doodle in Berlin - (1919)
- When Love is Blind - (1919)
- Down on the Farm - (1920)
- Love, Honor and Behave - (1920)
- Nobody's Fool - (1921)
- Princess Virtue - (1921)
- A Parisian Scandal - (1921)
- Don't Get Personal - (1922)
- The Crossroads of New York - (1922)
- Kissed - (1922)
- Her Night of Nights - (1922)
- Red Lights - (1922)
- The Beautiful and the Damned - (1923)
- Three Women - (1924)
- The Marriage Circle - (1924)
- Kiss Me Again - (1925)
- Up In Mabel's Room - (1926)
- Getting Gertie's Garter - (1927)
- The Rush Hour - (1927)
- Getting Gertie's Garter - (1927)
- The Girl in the Pullman - (1927)
- A Blonde for a Night - (1928)
- Rush Hour - (1928)
- Godless Girl - (1929)
- The Flying Fool - (1929 )
- The Sideshow - (1930)
- Party Girl - (1930)
- Ladies of Leisure - (1930)
- Sweethearts on Parade - (1930)
- War Nurse - (1930)
- The Runaround - (1931)
- The Good Bad Girl - (1931)
- Reckless Living - (1931)
- Slightly Married - (1932)
- Hell Divers - (1932)
- Strange Marriage - (1932)
- Parole Girl - (1933)
- The Eleventh Commandment - (1933)
- Keystone Hotel - (1935)
- Hands Across the Table - (1935)
- Tango - (1936 )
- Ten Laps To Go - (1937) - (Her final film)