Born 1885 as Marie Adrienne Koenig in New York City, American actress and dancer Mae Murray began acting on the Broadway stage in 1906 with dancer Vernon Castle. In 1908, she joined the chorus line of the Ziegfeld Follies, moving up to headliner by 1915. Murray became a star of the club circuit in both the United States and Europe, performing with Clifton Webb, Rudolph Valentino, and John Gilbert as some of her many dance partners.
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Murray made her motion picture debut in To Have and to Hold in 1916. She became a major star for Universal, starring with Rudolph Valentino in The Delicious Little Devil and Big Little Person in 1919. At the height of her popularity, Murray formed her own production company.
At her career peak in the early 1920s, Murray, along with such other notable Hollywood personalities as Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, William S. Hart, Jesse L. Lasky, Harold Lloyd, Hal Roach, Donald Crisp, Conrad Nagel and Irving Thalberg was a member of the board of trustees at the Motion Picture & Television Fund – a charitable organization that offers assistance and care to those in the motion picture and television industries without resources. Four decades later, Murray herself received aid from that organization.
Murray moved into the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, a retirement community for Hollywood professionals. She died there in 1965 at the age of 79. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Mae Murray has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6318 Hollywood Blvd. She was one of three actresses (Pola Negri and Theda Bara were the others) whose eyes were combined to form the Chicago International Film Festival’s logo, a stark, black and white close-up of the composite eyes set as repeated frames in a strip of film.
Take a look at these vintage photos to see the beauty of young Mae Murray in the early 20th century.