The Decade of Dorothy Dalton

Today, Dorothy Dalton (1893-1972) is perhaps best remembered for her two marriages, to actor Lew Cody (to whom she was married twice, 1910-11, 1913-14), and the Broadway producer Arthur Hammerstein, son of Oscar Hammerstein the impresario and uncle of the lyricist, whom she wed in 1924. But in her day, Dalton was known as a movie star, the centerpiece of over 50 silent pictures between 1914 and 1924.

Dalton was from Chicago. She became a professional actress at age 17, performing with stock companies in the midwest and New England, as well as big time vaudeville between 1910 and 1914. Pierre of the Plains (1914) with Edgar Selwyn was her first picture. Other notable ones from her decade before the cameras include the 1916 version of The Three Musketeers, The Flame of the Yukon (1917) with H.B. Warner, Guilty of Love (1920, based on an Avery Hopwood play), Fool’s Paradise (1921, directed by Cecil B. de Mille), and Moran of the Lady Letty (1922, with Valentino). Her last film was the 1924 version of The Lone Wolf with Tyrone Power Sr.

Many of the films in the early phase of Dalton’s career were made for Thomas Ince. In 1919 she returned to the stage to star in Morris Gest’s production of Aphrodite, which enhanced her stardom. Marriage to Hammerstein in 1924 occasioned her retirement from show business and the commencement of life as a society wife, in spite of the fact that she was still a marquee-worthy movie star.

For more on vaudeville 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.