Brown - Dark
Brown - Dark
Staten Island, New York, USA
Place of Death
Monrovia, California, USA
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
The Female Chaplin
Full Name at Birth
Mabel Ethelreid Normand
Actor/Actress, Director, Writer
Has Detailed Data (New)
Mabel Normand (November 9, 1892 – February 23, 1930) was an American silent film actress, screenwriter, director and producer. She was a popular star and collaborator of Mack Sennett's in his Keystone Studios films and at the height of her career in the late 1910s and early 1920s had her own movie studio and production company. Onscreen she appeared in a dozen successful films with Charles Chaplin and seventeen with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, sometimes writing and directing (or co-writing/directing) movies featuring Chaplin as her leading man. Throughout the 1920s her name was linked with widely publicized scandals including the 1922 murder of William Desmond Taylor and the 1924 shooting of Courtland S. Dines, who was shot by Normand's chauffeur using her pistol. She was not a suspect in either crime. Her film career declined, possibly due to both scandals and a recurrence of tuberculosis in 1923, which led to a decline in her health, retirement from films and her death in 1930 at age 37.
Couple Profile Source
Claude Normand (cabinet maker)
Wiki Bio Text
Mabel Normand was barely in her teens when her family moved to New York. The daughter of a vaudeville musician, she began modeling for artists and photographers including James Montgomery Flagg and Charles Dana Gibson. From modeling, she went into films where her first picture was Over the Garden Wall (1910/I). After she left Vitagraph, she started work for the Biograph Studio where she would meet and fall in love with a Biograph actor named Mack Sennett. Her career blossomed under Sennett`s direction. In A Dash Through the Clouds (1912), she became the first actress to be filmed in an airplane. When Sennett got the financing to form Keystone Studios in 1912, he left Biograph and so did Mabel. At Keystone, Mabel appeared in a number of "instant movies" where the cast and crew would hear about some public event and go there to use the event as a backdrop to a one-reel comedy. The public believed that great expense was incurred in making the films, but in fact, the expense was only for the cast and crew.
If there was one reason for Keystone`s success, it was Mabel. Extremely popular with the public, Mabel would do anything to make her films successful. She would appear in over 100 2-reel films and would also direct films staring Charles Chaplin and `Roscoe `Fatty` Arbuckle` . Mabel would also write, direct, and star in Mabel`s Married Life (1914), Mabel`s Busy Day (1914), Caught in a Cabaret (1914). She contributed plot lines to many films and her name was used in many of the titles. In 1915, she spent most of her time co-starring with Arbuckle. But the pace also took its toll. It had been several years since she fell for Sennett and they had even set a wedding date in 1915, but they never married. While they were in love with each other, Sennett continued to have numerous love affairs and be a slave to his work. In 1914, she co-starred with Chaplin and Marie Dressler in Tillie`s Punctured Romance (1914) which gave her an appetite for features. Sennett finally responded with the film Mickey (1918), which began production in 1916 and was released in 1918. It was the story of poor but honest girl who bumbles into high society. It was a smash hit. In 1918, Mabel left Keystone and signed a five-year contract with Samuel Goldwyn. She was growing older with her career was at a turning point. She began a downward slide, becoming addicted to wild all-night parties, alcohol and cocaine.
With Goldwyn, she would make 18 feature films, but her working discipline dissolved. She would show up late for filming if she showed up at all. She would be missing for days at a time once left for Europe in the middle of a movie. Sennett talked Goldwyn into releasing Mabel and she went back to Keystone. In her personal life, she was in love with Paramount director William Desmond Taylor who valiantly tried to end her drug addiction. Taylor was also an unattached handsome man around town who was reportedly also having an affair with actress Mary Miles Minter and other starlets. On February 1, 1922, at 7:05 pm, Mabel arrived at Taylor`s bungalow and was witnessed leaving at about 7:45 pm. Moments later, Taylor was shot in the chest with a single bullet. The murder was a huge scandal and was never solved, although rumors still abound with multiple suspects and motives. The list of suspects included Mabel (who was jealous of his affair with Minter; Sennett (who still had a relationship with Mabel and may have resented any intrusion by Taylor). Unfortunately Molly O` (1921) came out after the murder of Taylor, and her association with the deceased caused many to boycott her film.
On New Year`s Eve 1923, her chauffeur shot and wounded a wealthy millionaire, Courtland Dines, with her pistol. The headlines conspired to effectively end her career just as unfavorable publicity had ended the career of Roscoe `Fatty` Arbuckle. She married actor Lew Cody in 1926, but would carry on her partying. In 1929, as her health declined, Mabel entered a sanitarium and remained for six months, dying from tuberculosis at the age of 34.
Mabel Normand (1892–1930)
Actress | Director | Writer
Date of Birth 10 November 1892, New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, USA
Date of Death 22 February 1930, Monrovia, California, USA (tuberculosis)
Birth Name Mabel Ethelreid Normand
Nickname Madcap Mabel
Height 5' 1" (1.55 m)
Mini Bio (1)
Mabel Normand was one of the comedy greats of early film. In an era when women are deemed 'not funny enough' it seems film history has forgotten her contributions. Her films debuted the Keystone Cops, Charlie Chaplin's tramp and the pie in the face gag. She co-starred with both Chaplin and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in a series of shorts. She was a star in the first Keystone Comedy as well as the first feature film comedy. She was the only comedian to work with Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Mack Sennett, D.W. Griffith, Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford, Hal Roach, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Fred Mace, Fred Sterling and John Bunny (she and Buster Keaton never had a chance to work together but they were friends.)
Born in Staten Island, New York to Claude and Mary Normand. Normand started out as an artist model for Charles Dana Gibson (creator of the Gibson girl). Friends suggested she try out for the new medium of film and she did, working as an extra in Kalem and Biograph shorts. With Biograph's move to California she went to work for Vitagraph where she made a series of comedic shorts as 'Betty', one co-starring the first comedy film star John Bunny.
Eventually Normand returned to Biograph where she began working with Mack Sennett on comedic shorts that would eventually turn into Keystone Comedies. Normand and Sennett were lovers, close friends and close co-workers. All of Sennett's early ideas seemed to revolve around Normand. His creation of Keystone was contingent on Normand joining him; and though he would underpay her as he underpaid everyone he worked with, he insisted Normand have credit and say in the company. When Normand eventually left Keystone for Goldwyn, Sennett left soon after.
By 1912 Normand was writing her own films and by 1914 she was directing her films. By this point she was a major star, continually topping fan polls by new movie magazines. While the discovery of Charlie Chaplin varies from telling to telling, everyone involved agreed Sennett would not have hired (or kept him on) had it not been for Normand. Chaplin's second short for the company was Normand's "Mabel's Strange Predicament" which she starred and directed in. This was the first film Chaplin created his iconic tramp character for.
Chaplin and Normand had a comedic chemistry and would go on to team in a series of shorts until Chaplin left Keystone in 1915. As Chaplin's star rose many fan magazines began to call Normand a 'female Chaplin'. Normand and Chaplin had similar subtle mannerisms and the influence Normand had on Chaplin can not be understated. Before Chaplin left Keystone, they starred, alongside Marie Dressler, in "Tillie's Punctured Romance" the first full length comedy film.
With the loss of Chaplin, Normand and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle began to team together in a series of shorts (though they had acted together before). This series was also popular and the pair continued acting together until they both left Keystone for better pay.
Sennett and Normand became engaged around this time, though the engagement ended when Sennett was caught cheating on Normand. Friends report she suffered a severe head injury when Sennett's fling threw a vase at Normand's head. Those who knew Normand all believed Sennett was the love of her life; and she his. However they would never reconcile romantically. Sennett did convince Normand to create her own production company "Mabel Normand Film Company" to make her own features. The first project was "Mickey" and Sennett's handling of her business affairs resulted in the film not being released until 1918 (or having a definite version).
Normand dissolved the company and signed with Goldwyn where she went on to make comedy features. These movies would be more akin to sitcoms: they were shorter than a lot of features, but still features. Many are lost though several have turned up in the past 10 years.
Normand once again signed with Sennett to make features and this would result in her final feature films. However this would be a rocky venture. Normand's health was hit or miss (she had been diagnosed with tuberculosis when she was 10) and seemed to be worse than better. She also was drinking heavily. In 1922 her friend William Desmond Taylor was murdered. This case would become 'the case of the century' and became a media circus, it is still unsolved. Though Normand was cleared (she had been seen leaving his house with him waving goodbye to her; she was likely the last person to see him alive), the association left an unwelcome tarnish on her soon after the scandalous death of her friend Olive Thomas, and the unfair trial of Roscoe Arbuckle.
Normand continued working, making The Extra Girl. Soon after its release in 1923 she was again near another crime (a butler was shot at a party she attended; though he survived.) Soon after Normand took a break from film.
By 1926 Normand was ready for a comeback. She signed with Hal Roach to make comedy shorts. These were well received and by 1928 she had signed with the William Morris Agency to make talkies. However she did not realize how sick she was and her health soon interrupted these plans.
Over the years Normand's tuberculosis has turned into rumors of a drug addiction. This started during the Taylor scandal when it was claimed that maybe he had been killed for interrupting a drug ring, and maybe Normand was part of it. While not prominent during her life it has become more commonly believed as time has passed despite no evidence. Normand's family, estate and personal nurse were all adamant she had never used any drugs. Sadly this rumor has become common place in Hollywood lore.
Normand's drinking increased as did her partying. During one party she decided to marry longtime friend Lew Cody at 2am. She instantly regretted the marriage and they continued living separately. As Normand's health decreased and she was committed to a sanitarium (akin to a hospital/hospice in modern terms) by 1929. She died in 1930 from tuberculosis.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jo Noite
Lew Cody (17 September 1926 - 22 February 1930) (her death)
Trade Mark (1)
Big eyes and a big smile; some magazines compared her to a goldfish
Portrayed by Marisa Tomei in Chaplin (1992).
Anita Loos, claims in her 1966 autobiography "A Girl Like I," wrote that during her cocaine-induced frenzies, Mabel would write long, rambling letters to people about nothing in particular. At the time of her death, Mabel's attending physician was Loos' brother, Clifford. She begged Clifford to allow her to die at home, but she was too weak to be moved. A portable screen was brought in from her bedroom and, thinking she was in her own bed, she died in peace. However it was proven Clifford never attended Normand. Loos also claimed alternatively that Normand was illiterate; which is easily disproven.
Portrayed by Bernadette Peters in the Broadway musical "Mack and Mabel" (1974). Book by Michael Stewart, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman.
Interred at Calvary Cemetery, in Boyle Heights, California (USA).
She is credited with throwing cinema's first custard pie in the face. The film is A Noise from the Deep (1913) and the victim was Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle.
Is depicted in the film Return to Babylon (2013) by actress Morganne.
Portrayed by Penelope Lagos in the first film about her life, Madcap Mabel (2010).
Profiled in book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman.
Chaplin, Sennett and Minta Durfee all agreed in their writings that Mabel was the reason Charlie Chaplin was signed and kept on at Keystone.
Stevie Nicks wrote a song called "Mabel Normand" claiming Normand's 'death from cocaine' inspired her to get clean in the 1980s. The Mabel Normand estate maintains Normand never took cocaine or any other drugs.
Normand was writing her own films by 1912 and directing them by 1914, making her one of the first women to do so.
The Keystone Cops debuted in "Bangville Police" a Mabel Normand short. She is also 'the girl' tied to the railroad tracks, a famous image from silent film.
Along with Charlie Chaplin and Marie Dressler, Normand was one of the stars in the first comedic feature film "Tillie's Punctured Romance" (1914).
Mabel was named Favorite Female Comedian in a "Variety" readers pole in 1915.
Personal Quotes (1)
[In an interview when a "family magazine", when asked what her hobbies were] I don't know. Say anything you like, but don't say I love to work. That sounds like Mary Pickford, that prissy bitch. Just say I like to pinch babies and twist their legs. And get drunk. NOTE: In fact, she and Pickford were actually good friends.
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