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William Wallace Halleck Reid (April 15, 1891 – January 18, 1923) [1] was an American actor in silent film referred to as "the screen's most perfect lover". [2] Reid also had a brief career as a racing driver.

Wallace Reid
Wallace Reid head and shoulders 1920.jpg
Reid in 1920
William Wallace Halleck Reid

(1891-04-15)April 15, 1891
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
DiedJanuary 18, 1923(1923-01-18) (aged 31)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Cause of deathComplications from morphine addiction
Other namesWally Reid
OccupationActor, singer, race car driver
Years active1910–1922
Dorothy Davenport (m. 1913–1923)
ChildrenWallace Reid, Jr. (1917–1990)
Betty Mummert (1919-1967)


Early lifeEdit

Reid was born in St. Louis, Missouri, into a show business family. His mother, Bertha Westbrook (1868–1939), was an actress and his father, James Halleck "Hal" Reid (1862–1920), worked successfully in a variety of theatrical jobs, mainly as playwright and actor, traveling the country. As a boy, Wallace Reid was performing on stage at an early age, but acting was put on hold while he obtained an education at Freehold Military School in Freehold Township, New Jersey. Reid graduated from Perkiomen Seminary in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1909. A gifted all-around athlete, Reid participated in a number of sports while also following an interest in music, learning to play the piano, banjo, drums, and violin. As a teenager, he spent time in Wyoming, where he learned to be an outdoorsman.


Reid was drawn to the burgeoning motion picture industry by his father, who shifted from the theatre to acting, writing, and directing films. In 1910, Reid appeared in his first film, The Phoenix, an adaptation of a Milton Nobles play filmed at Selig Polyscope Studios in Chicago. Reid used the script from a play his father had written and approached the very successful Vitagraph Studios, hoping to be given the opportunity to direct. Instead, Vitagraph executives capitalized on his sex appeal, and in addition to having him direct, cast him in a major role. Although Reid's good looks and powerful physique made him the perfect "matinée idol," he was equally happy with roles behind the scenes and often worked as a writer, cameraman, and director.

Wallace Reid appeared in several films with his father, and as his career in film flourished, he was soon acting and directing with and for early film mogul Allan Dwan. In 1913, while at Universal Pictures, Reid met and married actress Dorothy Davenport (1895–1977). He was featured in Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916), both directed by D.W. Griffith, and starred opposite leading ladies such as Florence Turner, Gloria Swanson, Lillian Gish, Elsie Ferguson, and Geraldine Farrar en route to becoming one of Hollywood's major heartthrobs.

Already involved with the creation of more than 100 motion picture shorts, Reid was signed by producer Jesse L. Lasky and starred in another 60 plus films for Lasky's Famous Players film company, later Paramount Pictures. Frequently paired with actress Ann Little, his action-hero role as the dashing race-car driver drew young girls and older women alike to theaters to see his daredevil auto thrillers such as The Roaring Road (1919), Double Speed (1920), Excuse My Dust (1920), and Too Much Speed (1921). One of his auto-racing films, Across the Continent (1922), was chosen as the opening night film for San Francisco's Castro Theatre, which opened 22 June 1922.

Reid loved racing so much he even had an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 1922 Indianapolis 500.[3]


The urn of Wallace Reid, in the Great Mausoleum Forest Lawn Glendale.

While en route to a location in Oregon during filming of The Valley of the Giants (1919), Reid was injured in a train wreck near Arcata, California, and needed six stitches to close a three-inch scalp wound.[4] To keep on filming, he was prescribed morphine for relief of his pain. Reid soon became addicted, but kept on working at a frantic pace in films that were growing more physically demanding and changing from 15–20 minutes in duration to as much as an hour. Reid's morphine addiction worsened at a time when drug rehabilitation programs were nonexistent, and he died in a sanitarium while attempting recovery.[5]

Wallace Reid was interred in the Azalea Terrace of the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.


His widow, Dorothy Davenport (billed as Mrs. Wallace Reid), co-produced and appeared in Human Wreckage (1923), making a national tour with the film to publicize the dangers of drug addiction. She and Reid had two children: a son, Wallace Reid, Jr., born in 1917; and a daughter, Betty Mummert, whom they adopted in 1922 at age three (but allegedly whom Reid fathered in an affair).[6] Reid's widow never remarried.

Wallace Reid's contribution to the motion-picture industry has been recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Popular cultureEdit

Reid's name is mentioned by William Holden in Sunset Boulevard, a film in which Gloria Swanson, one of Reid's original costars, appeared as a forgotten silent film star. In Ken Russell's 1977 film Valentino, Reid is portrayed briefly and inaccurately as a bicycle-riding childish movie star and is made up to look like a cross between the character he played in Clarence, Harold Lloyd, and the comic actors Jimmie Adams and Churchill Ross. In the 1980 documentary Hollywood episode "Single Beds and Double Standards", Reid's story is recalled by those silent film survivors who worked with him: Gloria Swanson, Karl Brown, Henry Hathaway, and stuntman Bob Rose.

In 2007, a biography Wallace Reid: Life and Death of a Hollywood Idol by author E. J. Fleming appeared, the first since his mother's personal recollections after Reid's death.

In 2018, a biography of Reid was the subject of Karina Longworth's Podcast "You Must Remember This". [1]


  • The Phoenix (1910, Short) as Young Reporter
  • The Leading Lady (1911, Short)
  • The Reporter (1911, Short) as Cohn, Jones' Assistant
  • The Mother of the Ranch (1911, Short) as The mother's friend back east
  • War (1911, Short) as Midas
  • A Red Cross Martyr; or, On the Firing Lines of Tripoli (1912, Short)
  • The Path of True Love (1912, Short) as The Country Boy
  • Chumps (1912, Short) as George, the Denouement
  • Jean Intervenes (1912, Short) as Billy Hallock
  • Indian Romeo and Juliet (1912, Short) as Oniatore / Romeo
  • Playmates (1912, Short) as Party Guest at Piano (uncredited)
  • The Telephone Girl (1912, Short) as Jack Watson
  • The Seventh Son (1912, Short) as One of the Beecham Brothers
  • The Illumination (1912, Short) as Giuseppe's Father
  • At Scrogginses' Corner (1912, Short)
  • Brothers (1912, Short) as Minor Role
  • The Victoria Cross (1912, Short) as Lt. Cholmodeley
  • The Hieroglyphic (1912, Short)
  • Fortunes of a Composer (1912, Short) as Opera Attendee (uncredited)
  • Diamond Cut Diamond (1912, Short) as The Office Clerk
  • Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight (1912, Short) as Basil Underwood
  • His Mother's Son (1912, Short)
  • Kaintuck (1912, Short) as The Artist
  • Virginius (1912, Short) as Icilius
  • The Gamblers (1912, Short) as Arthur Ingraham
  • Before the White Man Came (1912, Short) as Wathuma - the Leopard
  • A Man's Duty (1912, Short) as Dick Wilson - Union Soldier
  • At Cripple Creek (1912, Short) as Joe Mayfield
  • Making Good (1912, Short) as Billy Burns
  • The Secret Service Man (1912, Short) as The Secret Service Man
  • The Indian Raiders (1912, Short) as Tom
  • His Only Son (1912, Short) as Bob Madden
  • Every Inch a Man (1912, Short) as Robert Chapman - the Son
  • Early Days in the West (1912, Short) as Dan, a Young Pioneer
  • Hunted Down (1912, Short) as John Dayton
  • A Daughter of the Redskins (1912, Short) as Captain Stark, U.S.A.
  • The Cowboy Guardians (1912, Short)
  • The Tribal Law (1912, Short) as Tall Pine aka Jose Seville - Apache Brave
  • An Indian Outcast (1912, Short) as Wally, a Cowboy
  • The Hidden Treasure (1912, Short) as Bill Binks
  • The Sepoy Rebellion (1912) as Extra (uncredited)
  • Love and the Law (1913, Short) as Sheriff John Allen
  • Their Masterpiece (1913, Short) as Jack Sanders
  • Pirate Gold (1913, Short)
  • The Rose of Old Mexico (1913, Short) as Paul Hapgood
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1913, Short) as Dorian Gray
  • Near to Earth (1913, Short)
  • The Eye of a God (1913, Short) as Frank Hammond
  • The Ways of Fate (1913, Short) as Jim Conway
  • When Jim Returned (1913, Short) as Jim
  • The Tattooed Arm (1913, Short) as Ben Hart
  • The Brothers (1913, Short) as Robert Gregory
  • The Deerslayer (1913, Short) as Chingachgook
  • Youth and Jealousy (1913, Short) as Ben
  • The Kiss (1913, Short) as Ralph Walters
  • Her Innocent Marriage (1913, Short) as Will Wayne
  • A Modern Snare (1913, Short) as Ralph - the New Sheriff
  • On the Border (1913, Short) as Bill Reeves - the Cowboy
  • When Luck Changes (1913, Short) as Cal Jim
  • Via Cabaret (1913, Short) as Harry Reeder
  • The Spirit of the Flag (1913, Short) as Dr. Reid
  • Hearts and Horses (1913, Short) as Bill Walters
  • In Love and War (1913, Short) as David - the Journalist
  • Women and War (1913, Short) as The Boy
  • The Guerilla Menace (1913, Short) as Captain Bruce Douglas
  • Calamity Anne Takes a Trip (1913, Short) as Policeman
  • Song Bird of the North (1913, Short) as Fowle - a Mission Worker
  • Pride of Lonesome (1913, Short) as Edward Daton
  • The Powder Flash of Death (1913, Short) as Captain Bruce Douglas
  • A Foreign Spy (1913, Short)
  • The Picket Guard (1913, Short) as Sentry
  • Mental Suicide (1913, Short) as Reid - a Contractor
  • Man's Duty (1913, Short) as Bill, the Selfish One
  • An Even Exchange (1913, Short) as Joe
  • The Animal (1913, Short) as The Animal
  • The Harvest of Flame (1913, Short) as The Inspector
  • The Spark of Manhood (1913, Short)
  • The Mystery of Yellow Aster Mine (1913, Short) as Reid - Rosson's Brother
  • The Gratitude of Wanda (1913, Short) as Wally
  • The Wall of Money (1913, Short) as Wallace - McQuarrie's Son
  • The Heart of a Cracksman (1913, Short) as Gentleman Crook
  • The Cracksman's Reformation (1913, Short) as Gentleman Crook
  • The Fires of Fate (1913, Short) as Wally - the Doctor
  • Cross Purposes (1913, Short) as Wally
  • Retribution (1913, Short) as Reid
  • A Cracksman Santa Claus (1913, Short) as Gentleman Crook
  • The Lightning Bolt (1913, Short) as Reid
  • A Hopi Legend (1913, Short)
  • Whoso Diggeth a Pit (1914, Short) as Wally
  • The Intruder (1914, Short) as The Woodsman
  • The Countess Betty's Mine (1914, Short) as Wallace
  • The Wheel of Life (1914, Short) as The Prospector
  • Fires of Conscience (1914, Short) as Ray - the Prospector
  • The Greater Devotion (1914, Short) as 'Devotion'
  • A Flash in the Dark (1914, Short) as A Miner
  • Breed o' the Mountains (1914, Short) as Joe Mayfield
  • Regeneration (1914, Short) as The Artist
  • The Voice of the Viola (1914, Short) as Wallace
  • The Heart of the Hills (1914, Short) as Dave - the Woodsman
  • The Way of a Woman (1914, Short) as Pierre
  • The Mountaineer (1914, Short) as Jim - the Mountaineer
  • The Spider and Her Web (1914, Short)
  • Cupid Incognito (1914, Short) as Jack Falkner
  • A Gypsy Romance (1914, Short) as Jose - King of the Gypsies
  • The Test (1914, Short) as The Poor Man
  • The Skeleton (1914, Short) as Jack - the Young Husband
  • The Fruit of Evil (1914, Short)
  • The Daughter of a Crook (1914, Short) as Neal
  • Women and Roses (1914, Short) as Wallace
  • The Quack (1914, Short) as Wallace Rosslyn
  • The Siren (1914, Short) as Dane Northrop
  • The Man Within (1914, Short) as The Outlaw
  • Passing of the Beast (1914, Short) as Jacques - the Woodsman
  • Love's Western Flight (1914, Short) as Wally - the Ranch Owner
  • A Wife on a Wager (1914, Short) as Wally Bristow
  • 'Cross the Mexican Line (1914, Short) as Lt. Wallace
  • The Den of Thieves (1914, Short) as Wallace
  • Arms and the Gringo (1914, Short) as Sullivan
  • The City Beautiful (1914, Short) as The Country Boy
  • Down by the Sounding Sea (1914, Short) as John Ward - the Man from the Sea
  • The Avenging Conscience (1914) as The Doctor (uncredited)
  • Moonshine Molly (1914, Short) as Lawson Keene
  • The Second Mrs. Roebuck (1914, Short) as Samuel Roebuck
  • Sierra Jim's Reformation (1914, Short) as Tim - the Pony Express Rider
  • The High Grader (1914, Short) as Dick Raleigh
  • Down the Hill to Creditville (1914, Short) as Marcus Down
  • Her Awakening (1914, Short) as Bob Turner
  • Her Doggy (1914, Short) as The Doctor
  • For Her Father's Sins (1914, Short) as Frank Bell
  • A Mother's Influence (1914, Short) as Wallace Burton - the Son
  • Sheriff for an Hour (1914, Short) as Jim Jones
  • The Niggard (1914, Short) as Elmer Kent
  • The Odalisque (1914, Short) as Curtiss
  • The Little Country Mouse (1914, Short) as Lieutenant Hawkhurst
  • Another Chance (1914, Short) as Detective Flynn
  • Over the Ledge (1914, Short) as Bob
  • At Dawn (1914, Short) as The Lieutenant
  • The Joke on Yellentown (1914, Short)
  • The Exposure (1914, Short) as The Reporter
  • Baby's Ride (1914, Short) as Father
  • The Three Brothers (1915, Short) as Jean Gaudet / Will
  • The Craven (1915, Short) as Bud Walton
  • The Birth of a Nation (1915) as Jeff - The Blacksmith
  • The Lost House (1915, Short) as Ford
  • Enoch Arden (1915, Short) as Phillip Ray
  • Station Content (1915, Short) as Jim Manning
  • A Yankee from the West (1915) as Billy Milford aka Hell-in-the Mud
  • The Chorus Lady (1915) as Danny Mallory
  • Carmen (1915) as Don José
  • Old Heidelberg (1915) as Prince Karl Heinrich
  • The Golden Chance (1915) as Roger Manning
  • To Have and to Hold (1916, Lost film) as Captain Ralph Percy
  • The Love Mask (1916) as Dan Derring
  • Maria Rosa (1916) as Andreas
  • The Selfish Woman (1916) as Tom Morley
  • The House with the Golden Windows (1916) as Tom Wells
  • Intolerance (1916) as Boy Killed in Battle (uncredited)
  • The Yellow Pawn (1916, Lost film) as James Weldon
  • The Wall of Flame (1916, Short) as Wallace - the Fire Inspector
  • The Wrong Heart (1916, Short)
  • Joan the Woman (1917) as Eric Trent 1431 / Eric Trent 1917
  • The Golden Fetter (1917) as James Roger Ralston
  • The Man Who Saved the Day (1917, Short) as John King
  • Buried Alive (1917, Short)
  • The Tell-Tale Arm (1917, Short)
  • The Prison Without Walls (1917) as Huntington Babbs
  • A Warrior's Bride (1917, Short)
  • The Penalty of Silence (1917, Short)
  • The World Apart (1917, Lost film) as Bob Fulton
  • Big Timber (1917, Lost film) as Jack Fife
  • The Squaw Man's Son (1917, Lost film) as Lord Effington, aka Hal
  • The Hostage (1917, Lost film) as Lieutenant Kemper
  • The Woman God Forgot (1917) as Alvarado
  • Nan of Music Mountain (1917, Lost film) as Henry de Spain
  • The Devil-Stone (1917) as Guy Sterling
  • Rimrock Jones (1918, Lost film) as Rimrock Jones
  • The Thing We Love (1918, Lost film) as Rodney Sheridan
  • The House of Silence (1918, Lost film) as Marcel Levington
  • Believe Me, Xantippe (1918, Lost film) as George MacFarland
  • The Firefly of France (1918, Lost film) as Devereux Bayne
  • Less Than Kin (1918, Lost film) as Hobart Lee / Lewis Vickers
  • The Source (1918, Lost film) as Van Twiller Yard
  • His Extra Bit (1918, Short)
  • The Man from Funeral Range (1918, Lost film) as Harry Webb
  • Too Many Millions (1918, Lost film) as Walsingham Van Doren
  • The Dub (1919, Lost film) as John Craig (The 'Dub')
  • Alias Mike Moran (1919, Lost film) as Larry Young
  • The Roaring Road (1919) as Walter Thomas 'Toodles' Walden
  • You're Fired (1919) as Billy Deering
  • The Love Burglar (1919, Lost film) as David Strong
  • The Valley of the Giants (1919) as Bryce Cardigan
  • The Lottery Man (1919, Lost film) as Jack Wright
  • Hawthorne of the U.S.A. (1919) as Anthony Hamilton Hawthorne
  • The Crucifix of Destiny (1920, short, not a lost film, but Wallace Reid is not in this. It stars Wheeler Dryden.)
  • Double Speed (1920, Lost film) as 'Speed' Carr
  • Excuse My Dust (1920) as 'Toodles' Walden
  • The Dancin' Fool (1920) as Sylvester Tibble
  • Sick Abed (1920) as Reginald Jay
  • What's Your Hurry? (1920) as Dusty Rhoades
  • Always Audacious (1920, Lost film) as Perry Dayton / 'Slim' Attucks
  • The Charm School (1921, Lost film) as Austin Bevans
  • The Love Special (1921) as Jim Glover
  • Too Much Speed (1921, Lost film) as 'Dusty' Rhoades
  • The Hell Diggers (1921, Lost film) as Teddy Darman
  • The Affairs of Anatol (1921) as Anatol Spencer
  • Forever (1921, Lost film) as Peter Ibbetson
  • Don't Tell Everything (1921, Lost film) as Cullen Dale
  • Rent Free (1922, Lost film) as Buell Arnister Jr
  • The World's Champion (1922, Lost film) as William Burroughs
  • Across the Continent (1922, Lost film) as Jimmy Dent
  • The Dictator (1922, Lost film) as Brooke Travers
  • A Trip to Paramountown (1922, short subject; cameo) as Himself
  • Nice People (1922, Lost film) as Captain Billy Wade
  • The Ghost Breaker (1922, Lost film) as Walter Jarvis, a Ghost Breaker
  • Clarence (1922, Lost film) as Clarence Smith
  • Thirty Days (1922, Lost film) as John Floyd
  • Night Life in Hollywood (1922, Lost film) as Himself
  • Hollywood (1922, Lost film, cameo; posthumous) as Himself (final film role)


Reid was a favorite of movie-goers. The original caption of this image from Picture-Play Magazine reads, "The only reason why they don’t let Wally play in dress-suit roles all the time is that the casualties among the ladies would soon empty the picture houses. In fact, we feel that we’re toying with the fan hearts even to print this picture."[7]...A reversed version image was also used as a lithograph for the lobby poster of Reid's film The Dub.
  1. ^ Fleming, E. J. (February 8, 2007). Wallace Reid: The Life And Death of a Hollywood Idol. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786428151.
  2. ^ "Girls I Have Made Lover To". Motion Picture Magazine. The Motion Picture Publishing Co. September 1919. p. 33.
  3. ^ "Wallace Reid".
  4. ^ "Reid Company in Wreck". Moving Picture World. 39 (9): 1474. March 1, 1919. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  5. ^ Troping the body: gender, etiquette, and performance By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Southern Illinois University Press. p. 108
  6. ^ "Wallace Reid".
  7. ^ (1918). "Favorite Picture Players" Picture-Play Magazine
  • The First Male Stars: Men of the Silent Era by David W. Menefee. Albany: Bear Manor Media, 2007.
  • Col. Selig’s Stories of Movie Life – Wallace Reid. Screenland. Chicago: Screenland Publishing Company, April 1923.
  • The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille. By Cecil B. DeMille. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1959.
  • I Blow My Own Horn. By Jesse L. Lasky. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1957.
  • Two Reels and a Crank. By Albert E. Smith. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1952.
  • Griffith: The Birth of a Nation Part 1. By Seymour Stern. New York: Film Culture, 1965.
  • Swanson on Swanson. By Gloria Swanson. New York: Random House, 1980.
  • Wallace Reid Dies in Fight on Drugs. The New York Times, January 19, 1923.
  • Wally, the Genial. By Maude S. Cheatham in Motion Picture Magazine. New York: Brewster Publications, Inc., October 1920.

External linksEdit