Marion Leonard

Marion Leonard (June 9, 1881 – January 9, 1956) was an American stage actress who became one of the first motion picture celebrities in the early years of the silent film era.[1]

Marion Leonard
Marion Leonard 1.jpg
The Theater of Science, 1914
Born(1881-06-09)June 9, 1881
DiedJanuary 9, 1956(1956-01-09) (aged 74)
Years active1908–1915, 1926
Spouse(s)Stanner E.V. Taylor

Early careerEdit

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Marion Leonard began working in live theatre until the age of twenty-seven when she was signed by American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. She made her screen debut in the short film At the Crossroads of Life (1908) directed by Wallace McCutcheon, Jr. (1884–1928) from a screenplay by D. W. Griffith, who also appeared as an actor in this film.

Within a year, she had leading roles, frequently directed by Griffith. At a time when screen credits were not given to actors, she and Florence Auer were the first star actresses to be billed by the studio as a "Biograph Girl". Of her films made at Biograph, thirty-two were with an up-and-coming young actress named Mary Pickford.

Marriage and switch to Universal PicturesEdit

Marion Leonard and D. W. Griffith in ‘At the corssroads of life’ (1908)

While working for Biograph, Leonard met screenwriter/director Stanner E.V. Taylor and a personal relationship developed that led to marriage. The two would eventually leave Biograph to make films together for Universal Pictures and other studios and sometimes through their own production company.

Engagement illustration announcement from 1911 published in Motion Picture News

In 1915, after appearing in more than one hundred and fifty films, Marion Leonard retired from film but did return eleven years later at age forty-five for one final appearance in a 1926 Mack Sennett comedy.

Marion Leonard died in 1956 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.

Selected filmographyEdit

Year Film Role Notes
1909 The Gibson Goddess Nanette Ranfrea
The Prussian Spy Lady Florence
A Fool's Revenge The Daughter
The Roue's Heart Sculptress
And a Little Child Shall Lead Them The Mother
Leather Stocking Colonel's Nieces
A Burglar's Mistake Mrs. Newman
A Trap for Santa Helen Rogers
Pippa Passes Ottima
Two Memories Marion Francis
Nursing a Viper The Wife
1913 Carmen Carmen
1914 The Awakening of Donna Isolla


  1. ^ The Theater of Science vol. 29 1914

External linksEdit