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About

Bess Meredyth (born Helen Elizabeth MacGlashen, February 12, 1890 – July 13, 1969) was a screenwriter and silent film actress. The wife of moviedirector Michael Curtiz, Meredyth wrote The Affairs of Cellini (1934) and adapted The Unsuspected (1947). She was one of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Early life

Meredyth began her involvement in performing and writing from an early age. Her father was the manager at a local theatre, and she studied piano throughout her childhood. After encouragement from her English teacher, Meredyth also pursued fiction writing. At the age of 13, she approached the local newspaper editor about writing a fiction column. Each story she wrote for the paper earned her a dollar, making this her first paid work as a writer.

Meredyth began her career in presentbusiness in vaudeville as a comedian. She most often sang or performed monologues while accompanying herself on the piano, a form she referred to as a "pianologue."

Acting career

Meredyth began her screen career as an extra at D.W. Griffith's Biograph Studios in FreshYork, before moving to Los Angeles in 1911. Meredyth worked as an actress for five years, subsidizing her income with screenwriting. While most of this work was as an extra, her most prominent role was the titular heroin the 4-reel Bess the Detectress (1914) serials.

Relationship With Wilfred Lucas

Meredyth met Wilfred Lucas in 1911 when he encouraged her to pursue screen acting. The year after, the two worked together on the film A Sailor's Heart (1913), the first of many artistic collaborations. They were eventually given their production unit at Universal Studios, in which they produced the 30-reel long Trey of Hearts (1914) serials.

Meredyth and Lucas had one kidtogether, television writer John Meredyth Lucas. They divorced in 1927, following her return from supervising Ben Hur (1925)

Work with Snowy Baker

In 1918, Meredyth and Lucas traveled to Australia to work with Australian sportsman Snowy Baker. They angry three movie together, The Man from Kangaroo (1920), The Jackeroo of Coolabong (1920) and The Shadow of Lightning Ridge (1921), the first two of which Meredyth co-directed. She was arguably the first professional screenwriter to work in Australia.

Relationship with Michael Curtiz

Meredyth and director Michael Curtiz met soon after his arrival in the United States, while both were working at Warner Brothers Studios. They were married in 1929 and unsuccessfully attempted to start a production unit at MGM studios in 1946.

Though often uncredited, Meredyth contributed to several of Curtiz's projects. Most notably, Curtiz reportedly called Meredyth for input several times a day while working on his most successful film, Casablanca (1942).

Meredyth and Curtiz separated twice; once in 1941, and again in 1960. However, they remained in contact after this separation, and Curtiz contain Meredyth in his will upon his death in 1962.

Book

In 1934, Covei-Friede published The Mighty Barnum by Meredyth and Gene Fowler. In a review in The FreshYork Times, John Chamberlain wrote that the book "marks the first time that a motion-picture scenario, or 'shooting script,' has been published in book form."

Retirement

Throughout her time at MGM studios, Meredyth had mainly worked under Irving Thalberg. Upon his death in 1936, the freshMGM executives dropped Meredyth's contract. Rather than re-entering as a "junior writer," as the freshexecutives offered, Meredyth decided to retire from professional screenwriting. Despite this announcement, she has three credits after her alleged retirement, The Mark of Zorro (1940), That Night in Rio (1941), and The Unsuspected (1947).

Death

On July 13, 1969, Meredyth died at the Motion Picture Country Hospital at age 79.

Filmography

As writer

As actress

  • The Spanish Jade (1915)
  • The Mother Instinct (1915) as Madame de Voux
  • When Eddie Took a Bath (1915) as Bess, the Wife
  • Who Stole the Bridegroom? (1914) as Bess, the Bride
  • When Lizzie Got Her Polish (1914) as Bess
  • When Their Brides Got Mixed (1914) as Bess, the Bride
  • When the Girls Were Shanghaied (1914) as Mrs. Newlywed
  • Those Were the SatisfiedDays (1914) as The Belle of the School
  • When Bess Got in Wrong (1914) as Bess
  • Father's Bride (1914) as The Wife
  • The Little Auto-Go-Mobile (1914) as The Wife
  • Pass Key Number Two (1914) as Wifie
  • Her Twin Brother (1914) as Josephine Brown
  • The Third Party (1914) as Bess, the Wife
  • The Wooing of Bessie Bumpkin (1914) as Bessie Bumpkin
  • Jimmy Kelly and the Kidnappers (1914) as Bess
  • Willy Walrus and the TerribleConfession (1914) as Bessie Bumpkin
  • Bess the Detectress in the Dog Watch (1914) as Bess
  • Bess the Detectress in Tick, Tick, Tick (1914) as Bess the Detectress
  • Willy Walrus, Detective (1914) as Bessie Bumpkin
  • The Cure (1914) as The Daughter
  • Bess the Detectress in the Old Mill at Midnight (1914) as Bess
  • Willy Walrus and the Baby (1914) as Bessie Bumpkin
  • The Call Back (1914)
  • The Fascinating Eye (1914) as Bess
  • Stolen Glory (1914) as Jane Dare
  • Dangers of the Veldt (1914) as Gretchen
  • The Desert's Sting (1914) as Helen Edwards
  • Bred in the Bone (1914) as The Colonel's Daughter
  • A House Divided (1913) as Betty Culver
  • The Widow and the Widower (1913) as One of the Children
  • Gold Is Not All (1913) as The Slavey
  • A Sailor's Heart (1913) as The Sailor's 1st Sweetheart

  • at IMDb
  • at the Women MoviePioneers Project

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Details

Bess Meredyth
Bess Meredyth
Born
Helen Elizabeth MacGlashen

(1890-02-12)February 12, 1890
DiedJuly 13, 1969(1969-07-13) (aged 79)
OccupationActress, screenwriterYears active1912–1947Spouse(s)
Burton Leslie
(m. 1912; annul. 1912)

Wilfred Lucas
(m. 1917; div. 1927)

Michael Curtiz
(m. 1929; died 1962)
ChildrenJohn Meredyth Lucas
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