Agnes Ayres (born Agnes Eyre Henkel; April 4, 1898 – December 25, 1940) was an American actress who rose to fame during the silent film era. She was known for her role as Lady Diana Mayo in The Sheik opposite Rudolph Valentino.
Ayres, c. 1920
Agnes Eyre Henkel
April 4, 1898
Carbondale, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 25, 1940 (aged 42)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Other names||Agnes Eyre|
|Spouse(s)||Captain Frank P. Schuker (m.1921–div.1921)|
S. Manuel Reachi (m.1924-div.1927)
Early life and careerEdit
Ayres was born in Carbondale, Illinois, to Solon and Emma (née Slack) Henkel. She had an older brother, Solon William Henkel, who was a decade her senior. She began her career in 1914 when she was noticed by an Essanay Studios staff director and cast as an extra in a crowd scene.
After moving to Manhattan, New York City, with her mother to pursue a career in acting, Ayres was spotted by actress Alice Joyce. Joyce noticed the physical resemblance the two shared which eventually led to Ayres being cast in Richard the Brazen (1917), as Joyce's character's sister. Ayres' career began to gain momentum when Paramount Pictures founder Jesse Lasky began to take an interest in her. Lasky gave her a starring role in the Civil War drama Held by the Enemy (1920), and also lobbied for parts for her in several Cecil B. DeMille productions. It was during this time that Ayres married, and quickly divorced, Captain Frank P. Schuker, an army officer whom she had wed during World War I. She also began a romance with Lasky.
In 1921, Ayres shot to stardom when she was cast as Lady Diana Mayo, an English heiress opposite "Latin lover" Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik. Ayres later reprised her role as Lady Diana in the 1926 sequel Son of the Sheik. Following the release of The Sheik, she went on to have major roles in many other films including The Affairs of Anatol (1921) starring Wallace Reid, Forbidden Fruit (1921), and Cecil B. DeMille's epic The Ten Commandments (1923).
By 1923, Ayres' career began to wane following the end of her relationship with Jesse Lasky. She married Mexican diplomat S. Manuel Reachi in 1924. The couple had a daughter in March 1926, before divorcing in 1927.
In 1929, Ayres lost her fortune and real estate holdings in the Wall Street Crash of 1929. That same year, she also appeared in her last major role in The Donovan Affair, starring Jack Holt. To earn money, she left acting and played the vaudeville circuit. She returned to acting in 1936, confident that she could make a comeback. Unable to secure starring roles and somewhat overweight, Ayres appeared in mostly uncredited bit parts and finally retired from acting for good in 1937.
Later years and deathEdit
She died from a cerebral hemorrhage on Christmas Day, December 25, 1940, at her home in Hollywood, California, at the age of 42; she had been ill for several weeks. She is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In 1960, Ayres was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a motion pictures star at 6504 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to the film industry.
|1914||The Masked Wrestler||Uncredited|
|1915||His New Job||Extra, Secretary||Alternative title: Charlie's New Job|
|1917||Motherhood||The Mother||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|The Debt||Countess Ann||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|Mrs. Balfame||Alys Crumley||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|Hedda Gabler||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|The Mirror||undetermined||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|The Dazzling Miss Davison||Lillian, Miss Davison's sister||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|The Defeat of the City||Alicia Van Der Pool||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|1918||The Purple Dress||Maida|
|The Enchanted Profile||Ida Bates|
|Sisters of the Golden Circle||Mrs. James Williams|
|One Thousand Dollars||Margarett Hayden|
|1919||The Girl Problem||Helen Reeves|
|A Stitch in Time||Lela Trevor|
|In Honor's Web||Carson|
|The Gamblers||Isabel Merson|
|1920||A Modern Salome||Helen Torrence||Lost film|
|The Inner Voice||Barbara|
|Go and Get It||Helen Allen|
|Held by the Enemy||Rachel Hayne||Lost film|
|1921||The Love Special||Laura Gage|
|Too Much Speed||Virginia MacMurran||Unknown/presumably lost|
|Cappy Ricks||Florrie Ricks||Incomplete film|
|The Affairs of Anatol||Annie Elliott|
|The Sheik||Lady Diana Mayo|
|1922||The Lane That Had No Turning||Madelinette||Lost film|
|Bought and Paid For||Virginia Blaine||Lost film|
|The Ordeal||Sybil Bruce||Lost film|
|A Daughter of Luxury||Mary Fenton|
|Clarence||Violet Pinney||Lost film|
|1923||The Heart Raider||Muriel Gray (a speed girl)|
|Racing Hearts||Virginia Kent||Lost film|
|The Ten Commandments||The Outcast|
|The Marriage Maker||Alexandra Vancy||Lost film|
|Don't Call It Love||Alice Meldrum|
|Hollywood||Herself (cameo)||Lost film|
|1924||When a Girl Loves||Sasha Boroff|
|The Guilty One||Irene Short|
|The Story Without a Name||Mary Walsworth||Lost film|
|1925||Tomorrow's Love||Judith Stanley|
|Her Market Value||Nancy Dumont|
|The Awful Truth||Lucy Satterlee|
|Morals for Men||Bessie Hayes|
|1926||The Son of the Sheik||Lady Diana|
|1927||Eve's Love Letters||The Wife|
|1928||Into the Night||Billie Mardon|
|1929||The Donovan Affair||Lydia Rankin|
|1936||Small Town Girl||Catherine||Uncredited|
|1937||Maid of Salem||Bit Part||Uncredited|
|Midnight Taxi||Society woman||Uncredited|
|Souls at Sea||Bit Role||Uncredited|
|Morning Judge||Mrs. Kennedy|
- "Agnes Ayres, Star Of Silent Pictures. Actress Who Played Opposite Rudolph Valentino in 'Sheik' Dies in Hollywood, Calif. Lost Her Fortune In 1929. Tried to Make Comeback in the Talkies. Had Small Role in Cooper-Raft Film in '37". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 26, 1940.
- Brettell, Andrew; King, Noel; Kennedy, Damien; Imwold, Denise (2005). Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies. Leonard, Warren Hsu; von Rohr, Heather. Barrons Educational Series. p. 23. ISBN 0-7641-5858-9.
- Parish, James Robert (2002). The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More Than 125 American Movie and TV Idols (3 ed.). Contemporary Books. p. 93. ISBN 0-8092-2227-2.
- Parish, James Robert (2002). The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More Than 125 American Movie and TV Idols (3 ed.). Contemporary Books. p. 94. ISBN 0-8092-2227-2.
- "Agnes Ayres Has a Daughter". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 27, 1926.
- "Agnes Ayres Gets Divorce". The New York Times. Associated Press. June 25, 1927.
- Katz, Ephraim (1994). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. HarperCollins She is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA. Publishers. p. 68. ISBN 0-06-273089-4.
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Agnes Ayres". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
- Kevin Sweeney, James Mason: A Bio-bibliography (Greenwood Publishing, 1999), p. 118