Paul Scardon (1875-1954) – pioneer actor & director

Above: Paul Scardon, aged about 45, photograph used in Charles Fox and Milton Silver’s (eds)(1920) Who’s who on the screen, Ross Publishing, New York. Via the Internet Archive.

The 5 second version
William James Raper was born in South Melbourne Australia on 6 May 1875. He died in Fontana, California, USA, on 17 January 1954. He was on stage in Australia from about 1900, when he changed his name to Paul Scardon, finding increasing success. He travelled with the Nance O’Neill company to the US in 1905. Following a busy 6 years on stage in the US, he appeared in his first film in 1911. He began directing for Vitagraph in 1915. After his Australian born wife died in the Spanish flu epidemic, he married actress Betty Blythe. He retired from directing in 1924, but stayed active in community theatre. From 1939 he returned to films as an extra.

Sometime in 1900, William Raper, a 25 year old telegraph operator in the booming Western Australian goldfield town of Boulder, decided to throw in his safe job working for the Government and pursue his dream of being an actor. An active member of the Boulder Dramatic Society, he returned to Australia’s east coast, adopted a new name – Paul Scardon – and found roles in J.C.Williamson productions. Smart, athletic and good looking, the world was at his feet.

early scardon

Above: An early photo of Scardon probably taken about the time he arrived in New York in 1906. Picture Play Weekly. April-Oct 1915. Via Lantern and the Internet Archive. See also University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections JWS13991 for a photo taken at the same sitting, but incorrectly dated 1924.

William James Raper was born in Melbourne in 1875, at his parent’s modest cottage in Bank Street, South Melbourne (then called Emerald Hill). His mother Eleanor (nee Sawyer) and father Edward were both English born but they had lived in Melbourne for some time, having married in the city in 1867. Melbourne was still a distant outpost of the British empire, but it was also a booming city after the great gold rushes of the 1850s. It continued to attract hopeful immigrants through the later half of the nineteenth century. Sadly Will’s father, who described himself as a coachman and groom, died in 1881 when Will was only 6. In about 1896 Will, relocated to Western Australia. Eleanor and Will’s surviving sister Ada most likely moved at the same time. (See Note 1 Birth Certificate)

Building a career
Writing about important contemporary filmmakers in 1920, Carolyn Lowrey included Paul Scardon in her survey of the “first one hundred men and women of the screen”. She claimed Scardon had spent some time in vaudeville and performed as a contortionist from the age of 15. Although these claims cannot be verified now, Paul’s career as a professional actor in Australia can.

Sherlock Holmes in Aust 1902 minne043

Above left; Scardon earning his stripes with JC Williamsons and in company with Canadian born actor Cuyler Hastings. The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 4 October 1902. Via the National Library of Australia’s Trove. Above right: The very popular Minnie Tittel Brune, about the time Paul Scardon worked with her. Postcard in the author’s collection.

By mid 1902 he was a regular in the J.C. Williamson’s Dramatic Company, that travelled the length and breadth of Australia performing popular plays imported from London and New York. These included both comedies and dramas such as William Gillette’s play Sherlock Holmes, and J.M. Barrie’s The Admirable Crichton. Although he seems to have often been cast in supporting roles, what one writer described as the “heavy butler” type of role, it was more than enough to establish himself. From mid 1904 he performed with a troupe led by the popular Minnie Tittel Brune (and including Roy Redgrave) – developing his skills and earning increasing recognition for his roles in L’Aiglon and Romeo and Juliet. Then, after a year with Minnie, Paul left Australia to perform with Nance O’Neill and her troupe in the US. He arrived in the San Francisco on the SS Sonoma, on 4 December 1905, the troupe also included actors Mario and George Majeroni. (See Note 2)

Through early 1906 the company travelled across the US providing dramas which gave O’Neill the headline roles. But by June he had joined Australian actor Nellie Stewart in Chicago in the supporting cast for her perennial favourite Sweet Nell of Old Drury. By the end of the year he was appearing with British actor Kyrle Bellew in New York.

In December 1906, a Melbourne Punch correspondent reported a long letter from Paul, now in New York. It should be read in its entirety because, unusually, it reports on the doings of many Australian performers, like Marc McDermott and Nellie Stewart. It confirms that while Australians working in the US may not have all been friends, they knew each other and closely followed each other’s successes:

“There was quite a bunch of us here during the summer, chasing ‘the nimble engagement’, but they’re considerably scattered now. George Majeroni and myself being the only two in town at this moment—balance being out on the road.” (read the Punch article here)

Motion Picture Story mag Feb - July 1911  Scardon in the 1920s

Above: Two Australians who often represented a very similar “type” in pioneer films – the suave leading man. Left; Marc McDermott in 1911, Source; Motion Picture Story Feb-July 1911. Right Paul Scardon, in Moving Picture World Jul-Aug 1924. By  1924 Scardon was directing. Via Lantern Media History Project.

Elizabeth Hamilton and Paul Scardon
On 29 May 1907 Paul Scardon married Australian woman Elizabeth “Bessie” Hamilton in New York. Bessie and her younger sister Kate, or “Tottie,” had arrived in Vancouver in April, and headed more or less directly for New York where Paul was now based. These circumstances strongly suggest Paul knew Bessie already from Australia, and that the couple had decided to marry and live in the US. The 1910 US census shows Paul, Bessie (and Tottie) living together in New York. A daughter – Joan, was born of the union in April 1913. (See Note 3)

Scardon in 1918

Above: A rather serious looking Paul Scardon in about 1917.  Motion Picture and Studio Directory and Trade Annual, Jan 1918. Via Lantern and the Internet Archive.

Bessie and Tottie were daughters of William Campbell Hamilton (1834-1882), a wealthy pastoralist (Australians would call him a squatter) from the Broadford-Kilmore area north of Melbourne. Tragically, both sisters died within a week of each other during the New York Spanish flu pandemic, in the last week of 1918 and first week of 1919. The inscription on their headstone at the Hackensack Cemetery in New Jersey ends “erected by those who loved them in far away Australia”.

Based in New York, Paul was active on the US stage, appearing with E.H. Sothern and Mrs Minnie Fiske, until sometime in 1911, when he moved into acting in films for the Majestic studio. There are lists of his films in existence, but it is impossible to verify these, as many have long since been lost. At the time, Scardon was held in some esteem for his character portrayals and his clever use of makeup.

Scardon in Tha Atom 1915 Scardon unidentified film

Above: Left – Paul Scardon in The Mighty Atom (1915) and right (centre) as an officer in an unidentified film.  From a Picture-Play Weekly article on his use of makeup. Via Lantern and the Internet Archive.

In 1915, at the invitation of Vitagraph’s producer Albert E Smith, he began directing – The Island of Surprise and The Hero of Submarine D-2 amongst his early efforts. Plot summaries of many of his Vitagraph films survive, and indicate a mix of mysteries and romances was the preference, the scripts usually based on popular plays and characters lifted from novels – presumably these could be churned into films quickly and cheaply. The Alibi, a story of embezzlement and false imprisonment, was based on a recent short story. Arsène Lupin, based on a popular literary character from a series of novels, concerned a master criminal who is redeemed by love. The Green God was also based on a novel, George Majeroni playing the unfortunate victim whose accidental death is revealed at the end. (The green idol in the story has nothing to do with it). Similarly, The Maelstrom, a story of gangs, fog and trap doors, was based on a recent novel. Perhaps he found this repetitive work not particularly enjoyable. In 1920 he left Vitagraph, working for the Goldwyn Company for his remaining active years.

Paul Scardon married actor Betty Blythe (Elizabeth Blythe Slaughter) on 18 April 1920, 16 months after Bessie’s death. Born in California in 1893, Betty Blythe was given one of her first featured roles by Paul, in mid 1918 in A Game with Fate. Betty was a forceful personality and famous for her witty comments. She is reputed to have said “A director is the only man besides your husband who can tell you how much of your clothes to take off.” Betty’s reputation today rests on her exotic film roles and the flimsy costumes she wore in films made after her work with Scardon –The Queen of Sheba (1921), Chu Chin Chow (1923) and She (1925).

The IMDB repeats the oft-made claim Paul Scardon directed 50 films with Betty. The truth was he could arguably be said to have discovered her, and was director on eleven of her films, all made at Vitagraph between mid 1918 and mid 1919. But Paul directed as many films with old Melbourne friend George Majeroni as he did with Blythe, while his most frequently used star was Vitagraph’s very popular Harry T. Morey, who resembled Paul somewhat, except he had a healthier head of hair. Morey was the leading man in all of Paul’s 1918 and 1919 films. Paul went on to direct films starring Blanche Sweet and Miss Patty Dupont before retiring from directing in 1924.


Above: Scardon and Blythe, profiled together in 1925. However he had retired by this date.Film Daily Year Book, via Lantern and the Internet Archive.

Scardonppt 1923   Betty Blythe 1923 ppt

Above: Paul Scardon and Betty Blythe on their 1923 US passport application. He was 49 years old, she was 30. He became a US citizen in 1922. These well known photos are found in US Archives, available via Family Search. Passport photos, then as now, provide a refreshing alternative to posed studio photos.

Life after Hollywood

Aged fifty, Paul Scardon devoted his later life to running a citrus farm in Fontana, California and directing plays for community theatre in San Bernardino – well into the 1940s, reminding us that for many actors, the “legitimacy” of theatre is preferable to cinema. Paul did return to acting on the screen in the late 1930s however, but now appeared without a toupee and usually in uncredited roles. He died suddenly in 1954.

Scardon in Mark Twain 1944 Today I Hang 1942

Above left: Screen grab of Paul Scardon playing Rudyard Kipling in Warner Bros The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944). It is his one scene. Above right: Screen grab of Scardon as Hobbs from Today I Hang (1942). Australian Mona Barrie saves the film from being a complete bore. Author’s Collection.
Above: Leon Errol from Sydney as the fast talking Knobby Walsh, a regular character in the Joe Palooka films, and Paul Scardon as the doddery file clark being offered cigars while his files are stolen. This is a short audio clip from Gentleman Joe Palooka (1946). Leon Errol was 65 years old, Scardon 71. Source – Youtube. Paul Scardon was an extra in three of the Palooka films.

Betty Blythe also continued to act almost to the end of her life -she died in 1972. Her final film role was apparently as an extra in My Fair Lady in 1964. Before she died she gave film historian Kevin Brownlow a long account of working with director J. Gordon Edwards on The Queen of Sheba. Interviewed while sitting beneath a portrait of Scardon, she said Edwards was like her husband, a similiar “gentlemanly sort of person.”

Betty and Paul’s citrus orchard in Fortuna has long since been taken over for housing, however the modest little cottage in which Paul Scardon was born still stands in Bank Street, South Melbourne. 

Note 1
Paul Scardon’s date of birth was 6 May 1875, as per his birth certificate

Scardon BC

and his US naturalisation papers. Source above; Victoria, Births, Deaths and Marriages, Below; US Archives, via Unlike so many actors working in Hollywood, he apparently never felt any need to lie about his age.

Scardon naturalisation enlarged

Note 2
Mario Majeroni (born Italy, 1870) and Giorgio (George) Majeroni (born Melbourne, Australia 11 Jan 1877) arrived in the United States as part of the Nance O’Neill troupe with Scardon. Paul appears to have maintained a cordial relationship with the Majeroni brothers – he directed 3 films with Mario and 11 with George while at Vitograph. Unfortunately the Majeroni family’s significant contribution to theatre in Australia is not well documented, nor is their later work on stage and screen in the US.

Majeroni family

Above: Signora Majeroni with her sons Mario and George in Melbourne. Talma Photographer, David Syme and Co. Via National Library of Australia’s Trove.

Note 3
Paul and Bessie’s daughter Joan Scardon lived in Australia for some time in the 1930s, and gained acclaim for her costume designs for theatre. She married violinist and conductor Mishel Piastro in 1941. She died in 2003. Her descendants now all live in the US.

Nick Murphy
May 2020

Further Reading


  • Kevin Brownlow (1968) The Parade’s Gone By… University of California Press.
  • Charles Fox and Milton Silver (eds)(1920) Who’s Who on the screen, Ross Publishing, New York.
  • Carolyn Lowrey (1920) The First One Hundred Noted Men and Women of the Screen. Moffat Yard & Co
  • J.O. Randell (1982) Pastoral Settlement in Northern Victoria. Vol II The Campaspe District. Chandos
  •  Ken Wlaschin (2009 )Silent Mystery and Detective Movies: A Comprehensive Filmography. McFarland.

Heritage Council of Victoria, Database.

National Library of Australia’s Trove.

  • Punch (Melb) 14 Dec 1905 Page 38 Greenroom Gossip
  • Punch (Melb) 20 Dec 1906 Page 38 Greenroom Gossip.
  • Kilmore Free Press 23 Jan 1919 Page 2 Obituary
  • The Argus (Melb) 16 Jan 1919 Page 1 Family Notices
  • Everyone’s. Vol.2 No.86 ( 26 October 1921)
  • Leader (Melb) 9 Feb 1935 Page 36 Rhapsodies of 1935

US National Archives
Via Family Search and

  • Los Angeles Times 20 April 1920
  • The Age (Melbourne) · 3 Jun 1935, Mon · Page 14
  • The San Bernardino County Sun, 24 Sep 1939, Sun Page 12
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette· 20 Jan 1954, Wed · Page 6

Lantern Digital Media Project

Films in the Public Domain

Marc McDermott (1871-1929) – the Sydney hairdresser who went to Hollywood

Above: The dashing Marc McDermott, with particularly well kept hair, in about 1916. From Motography magazine, April-June 1916, p 1146. via Lantern Media History project. 

Marc McDermott Picture Show Mag Nov 5 1920
The 5 second version.
Born Marcus Patrick McDermott (sometimes MacDermott) Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia, 24 July 1871, Died Glendale, California, USA, 5 January 1929. He was active on the Sydney stage as an amateur, then by late 1890s, performing as a professional. He toured Australia with George Rignold, and in 1902 left for the US. He joined Mrs Patrick Campbell, touring the US and UK. His first film was for Thomas Edison in 1909. Thereafter, he appeared in 200 films before his death in 1929.
Left: A pencil drawing of “Marc MacDermott” in Picture Show magazine, November 5, 1920, P7.  This was one of several that dealt with his skills in make-up. Via Lantern, Media History Project.

In a career lasting the thirty years 1899-1929, Australian-born Marc McDermott appeared on stage in numerous productions and in over 200 US films, becoming an extremely well recognised and popular performer in the early years of cinema. In the occasional discussions about who was “the first Australian” to succeed in Hollywood, or “which Australian actor has made the most films”, Marc McDermott should rank highly. But apparently, to emphasize his serious acting credentials, he was keen to disassociate himself from his colonial upbringing as quickly as possible. So keen in fact he contributed to or approved of, a variety of preposterous stories about his origins – that have coloured his biographies to this day.

An example of this is the 1916 Motography magazine account that accompanies the photo above. This romantic story claims he was born in the affluent London suburb of Knightsbridge, and was a descendant of an ancient Irish King of Munster. He was “taken to Australia” by his parents at the age of four, it was claimed. But as the article also celebrates his move to the Vitagraph studio after 6 years at the Edison studio, it has all the hallmarks of a made-up publicity story. Twenty years later, Errol Flynn‘s life story was given almost identical studio PR treatment, he too, being “born in Ireland”, rather than far off and unfamiliar Tasmania. And in the absence of any meaningful later-in-life interviews (McDermott died in 1929) these studio stories have had a mighty influence on the modern and wildly inaccurate accounts of his life.

Motion Picture Story mag Feb - July 1911

Above: Forty year old Marc McDermott in 1911, Motion Picture Story Magazine Feb-July 1911. Via Lantern Media History Project

Marcus Patrick McDermott was born in the regional town of Goulburn, in southern New South Wales, in July 1871. His parents were Patrick James McDermott and Annie Massy nee O’Shaughnessy. The Irish born couple had met in Australia and married in Sydney in early 1870. A sister, May (or Mary), was born in 1881. Patrick, occasionally described as a “senior civil servant” was in fact a Prison Warder – first at Goulburn Gaol, and later promoted to Senior Prison Warder at Bathurst Gaol. It appears young Marc boarded at Saint Ignatius School, Riverview, on Sydney’s lower north shore. (see Note 1 below)

Evening News 11 Oct 1897   Sunday Times 20 Feb 1898

Marc McDermott’s first experience performing was through organised amateur theatricals provided by the Sydney Idlers Club, as these newspaper reports indicate. Left – Evening News Oct 8 1897 and right – The Sunday Times, Feb 20, 1898. Via National Library of Australia’s Trove.

If later biographies are to be believed, Marc’s father did not approve of his childhood interest in acting, and on one occasion burnt his toy theatre. Marc persisted and by his mid-twenties was actively involved in amateur theatricals, through membership of the Sydney Idlers Musical and Dramatic Club,  while during the day he was a city hairdresser in Elizabeth Street running a salon near the corner of King Street. Not only is this surprising fact borne out by newspaper references, it is also shown in several years of Sands Directory entries for Sydney, in 1896-98.

Macdermott in the Sands Directory 1898

Above – left column: Marc McDermott, hairdresser, operating at 77 Elizabeth Street, in the 1898 Sands Directory of Sydney.

In 1926, former amateur Sydney performer Jack Glover provided some reminiscences of Marc McDermott, by then very well established in Hollywood. Recalling the late 1890s, Glover told Everyone’s Magazine “I often smile and wonder whilst watching him on the screen if he ever thinks of the little barber’s shop in Elizabeth Street in which he used to lather and shave whilst we discussed the drama, for he (McDermott) was always ambitious to go on the stage.”  McDermott’s imitations of popular actors were apparently his specialty.

Others remembered him too – Harry P. Stewart, who had brought a theatrical version of Around the World in Eighty Days to Sydney in early 1899, recalled giving McDermott a part. And there is evidence of McDermott trying out humorous songs in vaudeville in a company travelling through New South Wales.

McDermott 1898

Above: Marc McDermott in Elsie Lander’s ( Charlotte Hazlewood Hannam’s) vaudeville company. This advertisement is from a Parramatta (NSW) newspaper in April 1898. Via National library of Australia’s Trove

But his great breakthrough was to be employed in George Rignold‘s company, sometime in 1899, and embarking on an Australia-wide performance tour.

Zeehan Gaiety 1900  445px-George_Rignold_Henry_5_1877

Above left: At 29, Marc McDermott was finally performing professionally. Here is evidence he was in George Rignold’s travelling company, in a featured role. The location was the Gaiety Theatre in  the Tasmanian mining town of Zeehan, and it still stands today. The Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 25 December 1900, Via National Library of Australia’s Trove.
Above right: George Rignold as Henry V, via Wikipedia commons and State Library of New South Wales.

By mid 1901, the Rignold company tour of Australia had wrapped up, and Rignold returned to Sydney to care for his ailing wife. Following some further acting and at least one experience directing a Sydney play himself, in late July 1902 Marc McDermott sailed for Vancouver, Canada, on the RMS Miowera. By 19 August 1902 he was at the Grand Union Hotel in New York, explaining to a New York Tribune reporter that some Australians with convict ancestry now had significant wealth, and telling witty stories about Australian children in drought ravaged districts – who had so far grown up without seeing rain. “Oh mummy what’s rain? Is it like the circus?” And this seems to have been his last public commentary about Australia.

Only a few months later, he joined British actress Mrs Patrick Campbell‘s productions of Magda, The Joy of Living and The Second Mrs Tanqueray in New York. For the next nine months he was on tour with Campbell through the larger cities of the United States and from mid 1903 he performed with her company in the United Kingdom. In just five years he had made an extraordinary journey from barber shop to the international stage.

Mcdermott drawn by Harry furniss 1913

Above: Actor, writer and director Harry Furness drew this caricature of McDermott in 1913 for The Bioscope, 25 December 1913. Via The British Library Newspaper Archive.

In July 1906 he travelled back to the United States and settled in New York. He then appeared with Richard Mansfield‘s company on their final tour of North America with Peer Gynt (Mansfield died later in 1907). Also in 1907, his mother Annie and sister May joined him in New York. Sadly Marc’s father Patrick, a victim of serious ill-health, had taken his own life in Sydney in August 1904 .

In so far as we can tell, his first films were for the Thomas Edison studio in New York, in 1909. And there, began a long and successful career on the screen.

motionpicturesto07moti_ FEb-Mar 1914

Above: The Thomas Edison Studio lineup from Motion Picture Magazine, Feb-March 1914. The 43 year old Marc McDermott is at top left. Via the Lantern Media History Project 

The reader today may wonder about his great success, particularly when so many others struggled for so long to establish themselves. In part – the answer must be the great names he was associated with from the early days of his acting career – Rignold, Campbell and Mansfield. But there is no doubt he was also a skilled and very versatile actor – who could play sleazy villains and romantic leads as easily as a bent and wizened Ebenzeer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1910).

When she was about 16

Above: Marc McDermott (left) in character as the old farmer, in a screen grab from When She Was About Sixteen (1912) with Bessie Learn and Margery Bonney Eskine. The entire Edison film – and several others featuring McDermott – can be watched online at Amsterdam’s Eye Channel on YouTube.

He Whe gets Slapped 1924 The Sea Hawk

Above left: Marc McDermott as the nasty Baron – a screen grab from MGMs He Who gets Slapped, 1924. Via the Internet Archive. Above right: A screen grab showing Marc McDermott as Sir John Killigrew (centre) and fellow Australian Enid Bennett as Lady Rosamund (right) in The Sea Hawk, 1924. The Silent Hall of Fame channel on YouTube currently shows the entire film.

Fellow actor Harry Furness, who knew McDermott well, wrote an unusually long piece on him for The Bioscope in December 1913. While acknowledging his versatility, Furness also thought he was “at heart, an intense actor” with the benefit of being “tall, handsome, fascinating, quiet, well dressed…in fact he is in reality a well-bred Briton.”

Well-bred Briton or not, McDermott’s film output at Edison’s New York studio was impressive. In 1910 he appeared in twenty titles, in 1911 – thirty, and by the time he left Edison in late 1916 he had completed almost 130 titles. While each of Edison’s films were only 15-20 minutes long, it must have been an exhausting work load. Not surprisingly, by 1917 his output had slowed. However over the next ten years he performed in numerous full length feature films beside some of the best known actors of the day – Greta Garbo, Dolores Costello, John Gilbert, Ramon Novarro, Tim McCoy, Dolores Del Rio, Joan Crawford, Lionel Barrymore, Ronald Colman, Norma Talmadge as well as fellow Australians Enid Bennett, Trilby Clark and Alf Goulding. His Directors included Alexander Korda, Fred Niblo, Raoul Walsh and John Ford.

McDermott’s other contributions to the cinema are worthy of note. Apparently a competent make-up artist himself, he was credited by some correspondents with pioneering the use of yellow grease paint to reduce lighting inconsistencies on the face in (black and white) films. In 1912 he appeared in the lead in the first US serial – What Happened to Mary, made in twelve parts by the Edison studio. He also appeared in the sequel, and at least one other serial. Although these did not end with the stereotypical “cliffhanger” of later serials, they were still designed to lure audiences back to the theatre again and again.


Above:  Miriam Nesbitt, Mary Fuller, and Marc McDermott in Edison’s What Happened to Mary (1912). Via Wikipedia Commons

McDermott married fellow Edison actor and regular screen partner Miriam Nesbitt in April 1916 but by 1922 she had taken him to court, seeking a divorce. Miriam’s list of complaints included his “wildly ungovernable temper” and his wandering affections. She also claimed that his annual income had been as high as $35,000. Following the divorce, he briefly took to the stage again and then settled in Hollywood. Several of his later films – The Whip and Glorious Betsy had sound effects and several talking sequences added in the rush by studios to respond to the challenge of sound. Had McDermott lived a little longer, we might be able to source an example of his voice.

Marc_McDermott 2

Above: McDermott about the time he appeared in MGM’s The Temptress (1926) with Greta Garbo and Antonio Moreno. He was in his mid fifties at the time.  Photo via Wikipedia Commons

But sadly his career came to an end in 1928. US Newspapers of the time reported the sudden decline in his health in October, his hospitalization in December and his death in January 1929, a result of cirrhosis of the liver. His mother Annie was reportedly with him when he died. Australian newspapers, probably by now thoroughly confused about his identity, generally overlooked his death. He was remarkably quickly forgotten – but through no fault of his own. His silent films were simply thrown out, or at best shelved, in the exciting new era of sound.

Nick Murphy
October 2019

Note 1
Very little that has been written about Marc McDermott’s early years is accurate. The most constant error is his date of birth. There is no doubt McDermott was born in 1871, not 1881. His official birth record at the New South Wales Births Deaths and Marriages, his sister’s birth certificate and his early US immigration records are all easily searchable and all confirm this. At least one US newspaper – The Detroit Free Press, reported a more accurate age at the time of his death.

McDermott birth certificate

Above: Part of Marc McDermott’s 1871 birth certificate, via New South Wales Births Deaths and Marriages. His parents provided slightly different ages for themselves on his sister’s birth certificate. The wedding date is consistent however.
Column 2 Date and place of birth of child

Column 3 Name 
Column 4 Sex
Column 5 Father’s name, occupation, age and birthplace
Column 6 Date and place of marriage, any previous issue
Column 7 Mother’s name and maiden surname, age and birthplace

Note 2
McDermott or MacDermott? Both spellings were used in his lifetime. This random spelling of surnames can also be found elsewhere in the late nineteenth and early twentieth – for example Mary Maguire’s uncle Andy used the spelling McGuire. There was also a popular but mistaken belief that Mac designated Scottish ancestry while Mc indicated Irish.

Further Reading


  • Kevin Brownlow (1968) The Parade’s Gone By… University of California Press.
  • Leonhard Gmür (2013) Rex Ingram: Hollywood’s Rebel of the Silver Screen. epubli GmbH
  • Kalton C Lahue (1968) Bound and Gagged: The Story of the Silent Serials. Castle Books/A.S.Barnes
  • John T. Soister, Henry Nicolella, Steve Joyce (2012 )American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929. McFarland & Co

ADB Online

LA Daily Mirror

Via National Library of Australia’s Trove

  • Evening News (Sydney) 8 October, 1897.
  • The Sunday Times, 20 February, 1898.
  • The Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 25 December 1900.
  • The Australian Star, 27 August, 1904.
  • The Bulletin, 13 September, 1921.
  • Everyone’s, 12 May, 1926.
  • Everyone’s, 2 June 1926.
  • The Sun (Sydney), 13 August 1947.


  • New York Tribune, 19 August, 1902.
  • Arizona Daily Star, 18 August 1922.
  • The Los Angeles Times 17 February 1923.
  • Detroit Free Press, 6 January, 1929.
  • The Los Angeles Times, 6 January 1929.
  • The Los Angeles Times, 17 August 1932. (Death of McDemott’s mother Annie)

Via British Library Newspaper Archive

  • The Bioscope 25 December, 1913

City of Sydney Sands Directories on-line See 1896 – Part 9; 1897 – Part 11; 1898 – Part 1.

Via Lantern History Digital Library – Internet Archive

Wikipedia Commons holds a large collection of public domain photos of Marc McDermott. 

YouTube Channels. A number of his films are in the public domain.