Jacqueline Logan: Peaked Early

Jacqueline Logan (1904-78) was a movie star for precisely one decade (1921-31), starring in over five dozen films. Her gorgeous looks made her a shoe-in for silents. She also had decent stage experience; it remains a mystery why she didn’t get cast in talkies after the intital transition.

Though her mother had sung in operas in Boston and taught music, and her father was an architect, Logan was discouraged from becoming an actress. She was beginning to explore a career as a journalist when she snuck away from their Nebraska town in her mid-teens and joined a traveling stock company in Colorado Springs, making it as far as Chicago before the producers learned her age. Sacked, she hopscotched to New York, where she was cast in the chorus of the 1920 revival of Floradora. This led to a job dancing on the New Amsterdam Roof in Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic and modeling for Alfred Cheney Johnson.

Ben Lyon is said to have helped her get into films. Her first movie role was the female lead in Allan Dwann’s A Perfect Girl (1921). This was truly a case of starting out at the top. A short time later she played a supporting role in Molly O (1921) with Mabel Normand, Jack Mulhall, George Nichols, Eddie Gribbon, and Lowell Sherman. In 1922 she was made a WAMPAS Baby Star, which further elevated her prestige. Other notable stuff included A Blind Bargain (1922) with Lon Chaney, the title role in Salomy Jane (1923), Wages for Wives (1925) with Creighton Hale, Footloose Widows (1926) with Louise Fazenda, the role of Mary Magdalene in Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings (1927), the title role in Rupert Julian’s The Leopard Lady (1928) with Alan Hale and Robert Armstrong, and the all-star Show of Shows (1929).

General Crack (1929) with John Barrymore was Logan’s last Hollywood picture. She was about sixth down in the billing, rather a slide from having been a star. At this stage, she went to the U.K. and starred in a few pictures there, including Symphony in Two Flats (1930) with Ivor Novello, The Middle Watch (1930), and Shadows (1931). She also wrote and directed the 1931 British film Strictly Business. Mysteriously, none of this did anything for her standing in Hollywood. From here, she returned to Broadway, appearing in the play Two Strange Women (1933), followed by the original production of Kaufman and Hart’s Merrily We Roll Along (1934-35).

After this: retirement at the ripe old age of 30. Through 1947 she was married to a stock broker, who must have set her up well enough to last her remaining days.

She is said to have wintered in Florida where she was close friends with fellow actress Dorothy Dalton (who’d been married to Lew Cody and Arthur Hammerstein) and Lila Lee, and owned a pooch bred by Lina Basquette.

To learn more about early show business  please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.