Dorothy Mackaill

Dorothy Mackaill

Publicity photo of Mackaill from Stars of the Photoplay (1924)
Born (1903-03-04)March 4, 1903
Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Died August 12, 1990(1990-08-12) (aged 87)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Cause of death Renal failure
Citizenship British
Education Thoresby Primary School
Occupation Actress
Years active 19201937; 19761980
Spouse(s) Lothar Mendes (m. 1926–28)
Neil Miller (m. 1931–34)
Harold Patterson (m. 1947–48)

Dorothy Mackaill (March 4, 1903 – August 12, 1990) was a British-American actress, most notably of the silent-film era and into the early 1930s.

Early life

Born in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, Mackaill lived with her father after her parents separated when she was eleven. She attended Thoresby Primary School. As a teenager, Mackaill ran away to London to pursue a stage career as an actress. After temporarily relocating to Paris, she met a Broadway stage choreographer who persuaded her to move to New York City where she became involved in the Ziegfeld Follies and befriended future motion picture actresses Marion Davies and Nita Naldi.


By 1920, Mackaill had begun making the transition from "Follies Girl" to film actress. That same year she appeared in her first film, the Wilfred Noy-directed mystery, The Face at the Window. Mackaill also appeared in several comedies of 1920 opposite actor Johnny Hines. In 1921 she appeared opposite Anna May Wong, Noah Beery and Lon Chaney in the Marshall Neilan-directed drama Bits of Life. In the following years, Mackaill would appear opposite such popular actors as Richard Barthelmess, Rod La Rocque, Colleen Moore, John Barrymore, George O'Brien, Bebe Daniels, Milton Sills and Anna Q. Nilsson.[1]

In 1924, Mackaill rose to leading lady status in the drama The Man Who Came Back, opposite rugged matinee idol George O'Brien. Her role of the nightclub chanteuse Marcelle catapulted Mackaill into a genuine Hollywood star and her career continued to flourish throughout the remainder of the 1920s. In early 1924 she starred in the western film, The Mine with the Iron Door, shot on location outside of Tucson, Arizona. That same year she was awarded the WAMPAS Baby Stars award by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in the United States, which honored thirteen young women each year who they believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom. Other notable recipients of the award that year were Clara Bow, Julanne Johnston and Lucille Ricksen.[2]

Later career and retirement

Mackaill made a smooth transition to sound with the part-talkie The Barker (1928) and had success in talkies for the next couple of years. First National Pictures was acquired by Warner Brothers in September 1928, and her contract with First National was not renewed upon its expiration in 1931. Her most memorable role of this era was the 1932 Columbia Pictures release Love Affair with a young Humphrey Bogart as her leading man. She made several films for MGM, Paramount and Columbia before retiring in 1937 to care for her aging mother.

In 1955, Mackaill moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where she remained for the rest of her life.[3] She had fallen in love with the islands while filming His Captive Woman in 1929.[4] Mackaill lived at the luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel on the beach at Waikiki as a sort of celebrity-in-residence and enjoyed swimming in the ocean nearly every day.[5] She occasionally came out of retirement to appear in roles for television, notably in two episodes of Hawaii Five-O in 1976 and 1980, which was filmed on location in Hawaii.[6]

Personal life

Mackaill was married three times. Her first marriage was to German film director Lothar Mendes, whom she married on November 17, 1926.[7] They divorced in August 1928.[8] On November 4, 1931, she married radio singer Neil Albert Miller.[9] They divorced in February 1934.[10] Her third and final marriage was to horticulturist Harold Patterson in June 1947.[11][12] Mackaill filed for divorce in December 1948.[13] She had no children from any of the marriages.


Mackaill died of kidney failure in Honolulu on August 12, 1990, aged 87.[3] She was cremated and her ashes were scattered at sea off of Waikiki beach.


Year Title Role Notes
1920 The Face at the Window
1920 Torchy Short film
1920 Torchy's Millions Short film
1921 Torchy's Promotion Short film
1921 Bits of Life Lost film
1921 The Lotus Eater Uncredited
Lost film
1922 Isle of Doubt Eleanor Warburton
1922 A Woman's Woman Sally Plummer
1922 The Streets of New York Sally Ann
1922 The Inner Man Sally
1923 Mighty Lak' a Rose Rose Duncan Lost film
1923 The Broken Violin Constance Morley
1923 The Fighting Blade Thomsine Musgrove
1923 The Fair Cheat Camilla
1923 His Children's Children Sheila
1923 Twenty-One Lynnie Willis
1924 The Next Corner Elsie Maury Lost film
1924 What Shall I Do? Jeanie Andrews
1924 The Man Who Came Back Marcelle
1924 The Painted Lady Violet
1924 The Mine with the Iron Door Marta Hillgrove
1925 The Bridge of Sighs Linda Harper Lost film
1925 One Year to Live Marthe Lost film
1925 Chickie Chickie Lost film
1925 The Making of O'Malley Lucille Thayer Lost film
1925 Shore Leave Connie Martin
1925 Joanna Joanna Manners Lost film
1925 The Dancer of Paris Consuelo Cox Lost film
1926 Ranson's Folly Mary Cahill
1926 Subway Sadie Sadie Hermann Lost film
1926 Just Another Blonde Jeanne Cavanaugh Alternative title: The Girl from Coney Island
1927 The Lunatic at Large Beatrix Staynes Lost film
1927 Convoy Sylvia Dodge
1927 Smile, Brother, Smile Mildred Marvin Lost film
1927 The Crystal Cup Gita Carteret Lost film
1927 Man Crazy Clarissa Janeway Lost film
1928 Ladies' Night in a Turkish Bath Helen Slocum
1928 Lady Be Good Mary Lost film
1928 The Whip Lady Diana
1928 Waterfront Peggy Ann Andrews
1928 The Barker Lou
1929 His Captive Woman Anna Janssen
1929 Children of the Ritz Angela Pennington Lost film
1929 Two Weeks Off Kitty Weaver Lost film
1929 Hard to Get Bobby Martin Lost film
Alternative title: Classified
1929 The Great Divide Ruth Jordan
1929 The Love Racket Betty Brown Lost film
1930 Strictly Modern Kate Lost film
1930 The Flirting Widow Celia
1930 The Office Wife Anne Murdock
1930 Man Trouble Joan
1930 Bright Lights Louanne Alternative title: Adventures in Africa
1931 Once a Sinner Diana Barry
1931 Kept Husbands Dorothea "Dot" Parker Brunton
1931 Party Husband Laura
1931 Their Mad Moment Emily Stanley Alternative title: Basquerie
1931 The Reckless Hour Margaret "Margie" Nichols
1931 Safe in Hell Gilda Carlson - aka Gilda Erickson
1932 Love Affair Carol Owen
1932 No Man of Her Own Kay Everly
1933 Neighbors' Wives Helen McGrath
1933 Curtain at Eight Lola Cresmer Alternative title: Backstage Mystery
1933 The Chief Dixie Dean
1934 Picture Brides Mame Smith
1934 Cheaters Mabel
1937 Bulldog Drummond at Bay Doris Thompson
Year Title Role Notes
1953 Studio One in Hollywood Episode: "The Magic Lantern"
1976-1980 Hawaii Five-O Various roles 2 episodes


  1. Silent Hollywood
  2. The Wampas Baby Stars
  3. 1 2 "Deaths". USA Today. August 14, 1990. p. 2A.
  4. Los Angeles Times, August 15, 1990
  5. Honolulu Advertiser, May 11, 2008.
  6. "Dorothy Mackaill". IMDb. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  7. "Star Takes Time Off To Be Married". The Border Cities Star. November 18, 1926. p. 1. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  8. "Divorce For Movie Actress". Reading Eagle. August 3, 1928. p. 4. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  9. "DOROTHY MACKAILL WED.; Screen Star and Radio Singer Married in Arizona". The New York Times. November 4, 1931.
  10. "Nagging Charge Wins Divorce". The Southeast Missourian. February 17, 1934. p. 1. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  11. "Orchid Beau Wins Dorothy Mackaill". The Milwaukee Sentinel. March 3, 1947. p. 1. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  12. "Miss Mackaill Marries Was Former Actress". The Hartford Courant. June 14, 1947. p. 3.
  13. "Fight to Unseat Taft Planned". Los Angeles Times. December 31, 1948. p. 4.
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