Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?82684">NYPL Digital Gallery</a><br>(image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

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Born as: Margaret Derden Philpott

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Margaret Philpott began dancing as a young girl in San Antonio to correct a posture problem, and dreamed of becoming a stage actress. At age nine, she made her theatrical debut in a production of Aida. She ran away from home at 17 to try her luck in New York City, and soon afterwards landed a role in a Broadway show called The Love Mill. She also won the attention of theater owner Daniel Frohman, who encouraged her career and changed her name to Madge Bellamy. Although still virtually an unknown, she got the lead role in a production of Pollyanna, and then replaced Helen Hayes in Dear Brutus. She made her debut in silent motion pictures in The Riddle: Woman. She then signed a four-year contract with film executive Thomas Ince and went to Hollywood. During her time at Ince Studios, she made The Cup of Life; Hail the Woman; and Love Never Dies, directed by King Vidor. In 1925, Ince died under mysterious circumstances aboard the yacht of William Randolph Hearst (an event dramatized in the 2001 film The Cat's Meow). With her contract up, Madge signed another four-year deal with Fox, where she made a series of flapper films. She had become a popular leading lady. Madge made her talkie film debut in Mother Knows Best in 1928, but her career began to decline. After disagreements with the studio, she was left broke and unemployed. She returned to Hollywood to star in the cult horror classic White Zombie with Bela Lugosi. In 1934, she again signed with Fox, and made some low-budget B films. She wrote her autobiography, A Darling of the Twenties (1990), but died shortly before it was published.
Disambiguation notice
Born as: Margaret Derden Philpott

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