Leatrice Joy

Leatrice Joy
Born Leatrice Johanna Zeidler
(1893-11-07)November 7, 1893
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Died May 13, 1985(1985-05-13) (aged 91)
Riverdale, Bronx, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Acute anemia
Resting place Saint Savior Episcopal Churchyard
Nationality American
Other names Beatrice Joy
Education New Orleans Convent of the Sacred Heart
Occupation Actress
Years active 19151954
Spouse(s) John Gilbert (m. 1922; div. 1925)
William S. Hook (m. 1931; div. 1944)
Arthur Kem Westermark (m. 1945; div. 1954)
Children 1

Leatrice Joy (November 7, 1893 May 13, 1985) was an American actress most prolific during the silent film era.

Early life

Leatrice Johanna Zeidler[1] was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to dentist Edward Joseph Zeidler,[2] who was of Austrian and French descent, and Mary Joy Crimens Zeidler, who was of German and Irish descent. She had a brother, Billy, who later worked at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

She attended New Orleans Convent of the Sacred Heart but left when her father was diagnosed with tuberculosis and forced to give up his dental practice. She tried out for the New Orleans-based Nola Film Company in 1915 and was hired as an actress. Her mother disapproved of her becoming an actress, but the family needed the money, so her mother accompanied her to California where she began working in plays and films.[3][4]


Joy began her acting career in stock theater companies and soon made her film debut; between April 1916 and November 1917 she was the star of about 20 one-reel Black Diamond Comedies produced by the United States Motion Picture Corporation in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and released nationally by Paramount Pictures.[5] In many of these, she starred as "Susie," an irrepressibly enthusiastic, impulsive young woman who gets into humorous scrapes.

In late 1917 she relocated to the relatively young film colony in Hollywood, California and began appearing in comedy shorts opposite Billy West and Oliver Hardy. Signed under contract with Samuel Goldwyn Studios, her first role for the studio was in 1917's The Pride of the Clan opposite Mary Pickford. Her career quickly gained momentum, and by 1920 she had become a highly-popular actress with the filmgoing public and was given leading-lady status opposite such performers as Wallace Beery, Conrad Nagel, Nita Naldi, and Irene Rich.

Directors often cast Joy in the "strong-willed independent woman" role, and the liberated atmosphere of the Jazz Age Roaring Twenties solidified her public popularity, especially with female film goers. Her close-cropped hair and somewhat boyish persona (she was often cast as a woman mistaken for a young man) became fashionable during the era. With her increasing popularity, Joy was sought out by Cecil B. DeMille, who signed her to Paramount Pictures in 1922, immediately casting her in that year's successful high-society drama Saturday Night opposite Conrad Nagel. Joy starred in a number of successful releases for Paramount and was heavily promoted as one of DeMille's most prominent protégées.

Transition to sound

In 1925, against the advice of studio executives, Joy parted ways with Paramount and followed DeMille to his new film company, Producers Distributing Corporation, for which she made a few moderately-successful films, including Lois Weber's last silent film The Angel of Broadway in 1927. A professional dispute ended the DeMille/Joy partnership in 1928 and she was signed with MGM. That year she headlined MGM's second part-talkie effort, The Bellamy Trial opposite Betty Bronson and Margaret Livingston.

Joy's career began to falter with the advent of talkies, possibly because her heavy Southern accent was considered unfashionable in comparison with other actresses' refined "mid-Atlantic" diction. In 1929 she became a freelance actress without a longterm contract.

Retirement and later years

By the early 1930s, Joy was semi-retired from the motion-picture industry, but she later made several guest appearances in a few modestly-successful films, such as 1951's Love Nest, which featured a young Marilyn Monroe.

In the 1960s, Joy retired to Greenwich, Connecticut, where she lived with her daughter and son-in-law.[6]

Joy appeared as a subject on CBS TV's game show, To Tell the Truth July 1st, 1963.

She was interviewed in the television documentary series Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film (1980).[7]

Personal life

Joy was married three times and had one child. On March 22, 1922, she married actor John Gilbert. They had a daughter, Leatrice Joy Gilbert (later Fountain), in September 1924 who later acted in bit parts.[8] Joy filed for divorce in August 1924, citing Gilbert's infidelity and alcoholism.[9][10] Joy's second marriage was to businessman William Spencer Hook on October 22, 1931;[11] they divorced in 1944. Joy's third and final marriage was to former actor and electrical engineer Arthur Kem Westermark. They married on March 5, 1945 in Mexico City and divorced in October 1954.[12][13]

During her silent film career in the 1920s, she was Hollywood's best known Christian Scientist.[14]


On May 13, 1985, Joy died from acute anemia at the High Ridge House Christian Science nursing home in Riverdale, Bronx, New York.[15][16] She was interred at the Saint Savior Episcopal Churchyard in Old Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Leatrice Joy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6517 Hollywood Blvd., in Hollywood, California.[17]


Year Title Role Notes
1915 His Turning Point Mrs. Carey
1916 The Folly of Revenge Antonio's Daughter
1916 The Other Man Short film
1916 A Troublesome Trip Unconfirmed role Short film
1916 Their Counterfeit Vacation Unconfirmed role Short film
1916 Auto Intoxication Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 The Pride of the Clan Extra Uncredited
1917 A Girl's Folly Girl Uncredited
1917 Her Scrambled Ambition Short film
1917 The Magic Vest Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Speed Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Getting the Evidence Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 The Wishbone Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Her Iron Will Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Her Fractured Voice Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Susie of the Follies Susie Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 The Window Dresser's Dream Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Wits and Fits Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 The Rejuvenator Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Susie the Sleepwalker Susie Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Susie's Scheme Susie Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 Susie Slips One Over Susie Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 The Candy Kid Short film
1917 Nearly a Baker Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 A Society Scrimmage Short film
Credited as Beatrice Joy
1917 The Slave Susie, his daughter Short film
1918 The Stranger Susie Short film
1918 His Day Out Joy Short film
1918 The Orderly Short film
1918 The Scholar Short film
1918 The Messenger Short film
1918 The Handy Man Short film
1918 Shackled Undetermined role Uncredited/Unconfirmed
1918 One Dollar Bid Emily Dare
1918 The City of Tears Maria
1918 Wedlock Jane Hollister
1918 Her Man Alternative titles: The Battle Cry
The Woman Eternal
1918 Three X Gordon Farmer's Daughter
1919 The Man Hunter Florence
1919 The Water Lily Undetermined Role
1920 Just a Wife Mary Virginia Lee
1920 The Right of Way Rosalie Eventurail
1920 Blind Youth Hope Martin
1920 Smiling All the Way Alice Drydan
1920 The Invisible Divorce Pidgie Ryder
1920 Down Home Nance Pelot
1921 Bunty Pulls the Strings Bunty Biggar
1921 A Tale of Two Worlds Sui Sen
1921 The Ace of Hearts Lilith
1921 Ladies Must Live Barbara Lost film
1921 The Poverty of the Riches Katherine Colby
1921 Voices of the City Georgia Rodman Lost film
1922 Saturday Night Iris Van Suydam
1922 The Bachelor Daddy Sally Lockwood
1922 A Trip to Paramountown Herself Short film
1922 Manslaughter Lydia Thorne
1922 The Man Who Saw Tomorrow Rita Pring
1922 Minnie Minnie
1923 Java Head Taou Yuen
1923 You Can't Fool Your Wife Edith McBride
1923 The Silent Partner Lisa Coburn
1923 Hollywood Cameo role Lost film
1923 The Ten Commandments Mary Leigh
1924 The Marriage Cheat Helen Canfield
1924 Triumph Ann Land
1924 Changing Husbands Gwynne Evans/Eva Graham
1925 The Dressmaker from Paris Fifi Lost film
1925 Hells Highroad Judy Nichols
1925 The Wedding Song Beatrice Glynn
1926 Made for Love Joan Ainsworth
1926 Eve's Leaves Eve Corbin
1926 The Clinging Vine Antoinette B. "A.B." Allen
1926 For Alimony Only Mary Martin Williams
1927 Girl in the Rain
1927 Nobody's Widow Roxanna Smith
1927 Vanity Barbara Fiske
1927 The Angel of Broadway Babe Scott Lost film
1928 The Blue Danube Marguerite
1928 Man-Made Women Nan Payson
1928 Show People Herself - at Banquet Uncredited
1928 Tropic Madness Juanita
1929 The Bellamy Trial Sue Ives
1929 Strong Boy Mary McGregor Lost film
1929 A Most Immoral Lady Laura Sergeant
1930 The Love Trader Martha Adams
1939 First Love Grace Shute Clinton Alternative title: Cinderella
1940 The Old Swimmin' Hole Mrs. Julie Carter
1949 Red Stallion in the Rockies Martha Simpson
1949 Air Hostess Celia Hansen
1951 Love Nest Eadie Gaynor
1953-1954 Westinghouse Studio One Various roles 2 episodes
1954 Robert Montgomery Presents Episode: "The Steady Man"


  1. "New Orleans, Louisiana Birth Records Index, 1790-1899". Vital Records Indices. State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, Division of Archives, Records Management, and History. 101: 520. 2002.
  2. Soard's New Orleans, Louisiana 1913 City Directory. Association of American Directory Publishers. 1913. p. 1228.
  3. Motion Picture. Macfadden-Bartell. 28: 27. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. Wayne, Jane Ellen (2006). The Leading Men of MGM. Da Capo Press. p. 84. ISBN 0-786-71768-8.
  5. "Leatrice Joy in Paramount Comedies.". The Moving Picture World. June 30, 1917, page 2084. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  6. "Former Film Star Ends Stay at Beach". The Los Angeles Times. May 24, 1962. p. F14.
  7. Brownlow, Kevin; Gill, David (1980). Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film. (video). Thames Video Production.
  8. LaSalle, Mick (July 6, 2005). "Saved from ignominy/His daughter's stubborn campaign put unfairly maligned actor John Gilbert back in the pantheon of silent film stars -- where he's always belonged". sfgate.com. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  9. "Leatrice Joy Asks Divorce". The Telegraph-Herald. August 3, 1924. p. 22. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  10. Arnold, Thomas K. (March 23, 1988). "Symphony to Screen John Gilbert Classic Daughter Speaks Up About a Silent Legend". The Los Angeles Times. p. 1.
  11. "Leatrice Joy Has New Role; Through With Film Career". The Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal. October 22, 1931. p. 1. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  12. "Leatrice Joy Wed Electrical Engineer". The Evening Independent. March 14, 1945. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  13. "Leatrice Joy Divorced". The New York Times. October 22, 1954. p. 24.
  14. Anthony Slide (2005). "Christianity Hollywood Style: Reverend Neal Dodd". Silent Topics: Essays on Undocumented Areas of Silent Film. Scarecrow Press. p. 31. ISBN 0810850168. In the 1920s, actress Leatrice Joy was Hollywood's best known Christian Scientist; in the 1930s it was Jean Harlow
  15. "Leatrice Joy, 91, Dies; Actress in Silent Films". The New York Times. May 18, 1985.
  16. "Featured in DeMille's 'The Ten Commandments' : Silent Film Star Leatrice Joy Dies at 91". The Los Angeles Times. May 15, 1985. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  17. "Hollywood Star Walk". latimes.com. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
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