Marion Mack of the Movies

Be careful what you ask for — you just may get it! Marion Mack (Joey Marion McCreery, 1902-1989) traveled all the way from rural Utah to sneak on to Mack Sennett’s Hollywood studio lot and audition for him. Within a few shorts years she was co-starring in major feature films, and found that she didn’t like it.

Mack was hired as one of Sennett’s Bathing Beauties in 1921, and appeared in the short On a Summer Day. Next came a supporting role in the Priscilla Dean feature Reputation (1921). She co-starred in the Universal western short The Cowpuncher’s Comeback (1921). It was only her third film.

Following this, Mack won a beauty contest sponsored by Thomas Ince Studios. This brought her to the attention of producer Louis Lewyn. The pair co-wrote her next feature the semi-autobiographical film Mary of the Movies (1923), produced by Lewyn and starring Mack and Creighton Hale. Lewyn and Mack also married that same year. Next came One of the Bravest (1925) and Carnival Girl (1926), also produced by Lewyn.

Mack’s most lasting legacy was to come the following year when she played the ingenue Annabelle Lee in Buster Keaton’s The General. This was to mark the apex of her career. One short Alice in Movieland (1927) followed) after which she retired.

The shoot for The General had taken six months, at a remote Oregon location. The experience was enough to sour Mack on movie-making for good, at least as an actress. (The fact that the film didn’t do so well at the time may have played a part in this decision. The General wouldn’t start to become widely appreciated until several decades later).

A decade later Mack wrote three film shorts: Streamlined Swing (1938, directed by Keaton), Rodeo Dough (1940), and Soaring Stars (1942). Following this, she went into the real estate business. Lewyn died in 1969 and Mack spent a lot of her remaining years promoting The General. 

For more on silent film comedy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube