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BETTY COMPSON

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BETTY COMPSON

Posted: 10 Nov 2007 2:34PM GMT
Classification: Obituary
Surnames: Compson,Cruze,Weinberg,Gall
BETTY COMPSON has made many pictures. But the one her friends remember best never was filmed. She appeared in it as a little vagabond maid playing the violin in a Salt Lake theatre. This was when she was a little girl and the Compson funds were low.

She had been playing the violin in the orchestra of the theatre, until one day one of the acts failed to show up. She was given the opportunity to fill in. Her supply of suitable frocks for a public appearance being extremely low, there was a great scurrying around, until her mother hit on the happy suggestion that she appear in the attire of a street musician. This she did, but she was a very peaked and anxious littie maid until the thunder of applause assured her that the audience liked her act.

This was the beginning of Miss Compson's public career. Her success on her initial appearance prompted her to go into vaudeville in a violin-playing sketch. She managed to obtain an engagement playing on various circuits. The producers of film plays were impressed by her charm and magnetism, and in 1915 she accepted an offer from Al Christie to act in Universal comedies.

But one fact stood out very early in her career which largely influenced her entire career, and this was her determination to avoid "slapstick" fun making. She held to this determination, although it caused her much anxiety and appeared to retard progress. But again her opportunity came, this time in an offer to do some serials, which were more along the line she wanted to go. Next came a comedy with William Desmond.

Then she made the big hit in "The Miracle Man," a Paramount-Artcraft picture. Three pictures - Betty Compson productions - were made, but the actress found the work too difficult for her young shoulders, and she returned to Paramount pictures as a star.

Since then she has played in "The Little Minister," "The Green Temptation," "To Have and To Hold" and "Kick In" with Bert Lytell, "The Rustle of Silk," "The White Flower," "The Bonded Woman," "The Law and the Woman" and "At the End of the World.'' Miss Compson was born on March 18, 1897. She is five feet two inches tall and weighs 118 pounds. Her hair is brown and her eyes blue. Her education was obtained in the public schools of Salt Lake City. She and her mother, devoted chums, live in Hollywood.

Betty Compson (March 19, 1897 - April 18, 1974) was an American actress. Born Eleanor Luicime Compson in Beaver, Utah, she had an extensive filmography. As a youth her father died and she was forced to drop out of school and earn a living for herself and her mother. She obtained employment as a violinist in a Salt Lake City, Utah theater.

Silent Film Actress

Compson made 25 films in 1916 alone, although most of them are shorts. She completed The Miracle Man (1919) for George Loane Tucker. Compson's rise as a star in motion pictures began with her portrayal of Rose in this production.

In 1920 she began to head her own company. She worked at the Hollywood Brunton studio and acquired three stories for films. Compson returned from New York City where she obtained financial backing for her motion picture productions.

Her first movie as producer was Prisoners of Love (1921). She played the role of Blanche Davis, a girl born to wealth and cursed by her inheritance of physical beauty. Compson selected Art Rosson to direct the feature. The story was chosen from a work by Catherine Henry.

Compson worked for the Christie Company as a newcomer in films, followed by Famous Players-Lasky. After completing The Woman With Four Faces (1923) she signed with a London, England motion picture company. There she starred in a series of four films directed by Graham Cutts, a well-known English filmmaker. The first of these was a movie version of an English play called Woman to Woman (1929).

In 1928 she appeared in The Barker, a silent movie which contained some talking scenes. Compson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for the performance.

Later career

One of her most revered films remains Docks of New York, noted for its dark visual ambience and superb performances, and in 1930 she made a version of The Spoilers in which she played the role later portrayed by similar-looking Marlene Dietrich in the 1942 remake, while Gary Cooper played the part subsequently acted in the later film by John Wayne, perhaps the only time that Cooper and rival Wayne played precisely the same role.

Compson's last film was Here Comes Trouble (1948). She retired following that film and helped her husband run a business called "Ashtrays Unlimited".

Private Life

Compson wed three times. From 1924 to 1930 she was married to film director James Cruze. Later she married and divorced agent-producer Irving Weinberg. Her third husband was Silvius Jack Gall. He died in 1962.

Betty Compson died in 1974 at her home in Glendale, California. She was 77. On her passing she was interred in San Fernando Mission Cemetery in San Fernando, California. She left no surviving relatives.

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