James Kirkwood Sr.

James Cornelius Kirkwood Sr. (February 22, 1876[1] – August 24, 1963) was an American actor and director.

James Kirkwood Sr.
Born(1876-02-22)February 22, 1876
DiedAugust 24, 1963(1963-08-24) (aged 87)
OccupationActor, film director
Years active1909–1956
(m. 1916; div. 1923)

(m. 1923; div. 1931)

Beatrice Powers Kirkwood
(m. 1931; div. 1934)

Marjorie Davidson
(m. 1940, divorced)
Children4, including James Kirkwood Jr.


Kirkwood debuted on screen in 1909 and was soon playing leads for D. W. Griffith. He started directing in 1912, and became a favorite of Mary Pickford, with whom he is rumored to have had an affair. In 1923, he married actress Lila Lee; with her, he had a son, James Kirkwood Jr., who became a successful writer, winning both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for A Chorus Line.[2][3] Previously he had been married to Gertrude Robinson, with whom he also had a child.[4] During his marriage to Robinson, he had an affair with Mary Miles Minter, who was 15 at the time. They "married" without clergy in the countryside near Santa Barbara. Their relationship ended after Minter became pregnant with Kirkwood's child and underwent an abortion.[5]

In 1931, he married actress Beatrice Powers, and had a daughter, Joan Mary Kirkwood, with her. They divorced in 1934, with Powers citing mental cruelty.[6] He married Marjorie Davidson (1920–2008) in 1940, and had a son with her, Terrance Michael Kirkwood (born 1941).

He was George Melford's original choice for the starring role of Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan in The Sheik, which was later famously passed to Rudolph Valentino.[7][8] His directing career fizzled in 1920,[citation needed] but he continued acting well into the 1950s. His film career would span more than two hundred films over nearly a half century.

He died at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital.[9]

Selected filmographyEdit


  1. ^ Egan, Sean (2011) Ponies & Rainbows: The Life of James Kirkwood Orlando, Florida: BearManor Media.
  2. ^ New York Times, "James Kirkwood, Actor, Dead at 80," August 25, 1963, p. 82; Los Angeles Times, "Actor James Kirkwood Dies at 80", August 25, 1963, p. K10
  3. ^ Whitfeld, Eileen, Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood, pp. 137–138
  4. ^ Egan, Sean (December 2011). "Ponies & Rainbows: The Life of James Kirkwood".
  5. ^ Carr, William H. A. (June 2016). Hollywood Tragedy – from Fatty Arbuckle to Marilyn Monroe. ISBN 9788896365953.
  6. ^ [https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=SPNP19331014.2.142 San Pedro News Pilot, Volume 6, Number 191, 14 October 1933]
  7. ^ "Greenroom Jottings (Page One)". Motion Picture Magazine. New York: Brewster Publications. October 1921. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  8. ^ "Greenroom Jottings (Page Two)". Motion Picture Magazine. New York: Brewster Publications. October 1921. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  9. ^ "JAMES KIRKWOOD, ACTOR, DEAD AT 80; Hero of Silent Films Also Starred on the Stage Began Career in 1900". August 25, 1963 – via NYTimes.com.

External linksEdit