Mary Murillo

Mary Murillo was an actress, screenwriter, and businesswoman active during Hollywood's silent era.[1]

Mary Murrillo
Born22 January 1888
Bradford, England
Died4 February 1944
Ickenham, England
Mary Murillo (1918)

Early lifeEdit

Mary was the illegitimate daughter of Sarah Mary Peacock (née Sunter). In 1894, her mother married Edward O'Connor, a Roman Catholic Irish commercial traveller, and she was raised as Mary O'Connor.[2] She was the eldest of four sisters (she also had an elder stepsister, Isabel Peacock, who later appeared in American films as Isabel Daintry). She was educated at St. Monica's in Skipton, Yorkshire, and at the Convent of the Sacred Heart School[3] in Roehampton. She adopted the professional name Mary Murillo after being compared in looks to a Murillo painting of the Madonna.


In 1908, she traveled to America with her stepsister to start a stage career, and in February 1909, she made her debut in the chorus of the Broadway musical comedy Havana. She toured the United States, finding only small parts until 1913, when she started sending scenarios to film companies. Her first script to be accepted was bought by the husband-and-wife team of Phillips Smalley and Lois Weber. Other commissions followed, and the first film known to be credited to her is 1914's A Strand of Blond Hair, a Vitagraph comedy short starring John Bunny and Flora Finch.[4]

She wrote five melodramas for Theda Bara during the 1910s popularity of vamp films. She also wrote for Bara's Fox rival, Valeska Suratt. Murillo served as screenwriter for Fox Film from 1916 to 1917, then joining Norma Talmadge Productions in 1919. She returned to the UK in 1923 to work for Stoll Film Studios. She wrote the script for the hit French sound film Accusée, levez-vous! (1930).[4] In 1936, she formed the company Opticolor to market in Britain a French motion picture colour system, Francita, developed by her husband, Maurice Velle, son of French film pioneer Gaston Velle, but the business failed after a disastrous demonstration of the system.[5] She later worked for J. Arthur Rank, 1st Baron Rank's Religious Films Ltd.

A selection of films made by Murillo, Maurice Velle, and Gaston Velle was featured at Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival in Bologna in 2015.[6][7]



  1. ^ The Bioscope, Reporting on the world of early and silent cinema: Searching for Mary Murillo 5 November 2009
  2. ^ "Gaston, Maurice and Mary". Luke McKernan.
  3. ^ "Scenario Writers and Editors". Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual: 236. 1919 – via
  4. ^ a b Profile of Mary Murillo at
  5. ^
  6. ^ "The Velle Connection 1900-1930: Gaston, Maurice and Mary Murillo". Il Cinema Ritrovato.
  7. ^ "Columbia University › wfpp › pioneer Mary Murillo – Women Film Pioneers Project". Columbia University.

Further readingEdit

Luke McKernan, 'Searching for Mary Murillo' in Christine Gledhill and Julia Knight (eds.), Doing Women's Film History: Reframing Cinemas, Past and Future (Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2015), ISBN 978-0252081187

Christina Petersen, 'Mary Murillo', Women Film Pioneers Project (2017)

External linksEdit