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Jeanne Eagels
(June 26, 1890 - October 3, 1929) U.S.A.

Jeanne Eagels



Jeanne Eagels was a stage and film actress born Eugenia Eagles. She was the second of six children born to Edward, of German and French Huguenot descent, and his wife Julia Eagles (née Sullivan), who was of Irish descent. Jeanne, who later changed the spelling of her surname to "Eagels", would later claim that her father was a Spanish architect and she was born in Boston. In reality, she was born in Kansas City, Missouri and her father was a carpenter. Jeanne attended St. Joseph's Catholic School and Morris Public School. She quit school shortly after her First Communion to work as a cash girl in a department store.

Jeanne began her acting career in Kansas City, appearing in a variety of small venues at a very young age. She left Kansas City around the age of 15 and toured the Midwest with the Dubinsky Brothers' traveling theater show. At first, she was a dancer, but in time she went on to play the leading lady in several comedies and dramas put on by the Dubinskys. As a teenager, she married Morris Dubinsky, who frequently played villain roles.

Around 1911, she moved to New York City, working in chorus lines and eventually becoming a Ziegfeld Girl. Her hair was brown, but she bleached it when she went to New York. Jeanne was in the supporting cast of Mind The Paint Girl at the Lyceum Theatre in September 1912. In 1915, she appeared in her first motion picture. She also made three films for Thanhouser Film Corporation in 1916-17. In 1918, she appeared in Daddies , a David Belasco production.

Leaving the Ziegfeld Girls, Jeanne went on to greater fame on Broadway and in the emerging medium of sound films. She appeared in several other Broadway shows between 1919 and 1921. In 1922, she made her first appearance as a star in the play Rain , by John Colton and Clemence Randolph, based on a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. Jeanne played her favorite role, that of Sadie Thompson, a free-wheeling and free-loving spirit who confronts a fire-and-brimstone preacher on a South Pacific island. She went on tour with Rain for two more seasons and returned to Broadway to give a farewell performance in 1926.

After a season on Broadway, she took a break to make a movie. She appeared opposite John Gilbert in the MGM film Man, Woman and Sin (1927), directed by Monta Bell. In 1928, after failing to appear for a performance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jeanne was banned by Actors Equity from appearing on stage for 18 months. The ban did not stop Jeanne from working in film, and she made two "talkies" for Paramount Pictures: The Letter and Jealousy (both released in 1929). She was posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her 1929 role in The Letter after dying suddenly that year at the age of 39. That nomination was the first posthumous Oscar consideration for any actor, male or female. She quit this show due to illness and subsequently travelled to Europe.

Jeanne was married twice. Her first marriage was to actor Morris Dubinsky whom she married when she was a teenager. The couple reportedly had a son who either died (causing Jeanne to have a nervous breakdown) or who was given up for adoption after the couple separated. Jeanne and Dubinsky eventually divorced. In August 1925, Eagels married Edward Harris "Ted" Coy, a former Yale University football star turned stockbroker. They had no children and divorced in July 1928.

During the peak of her success, Jeanne began abusing drugs and alcohol and eventually developed an addiction. She went to several sanitariums in an effort to kick her dependency. By the mid-1920s, she had begun using heroin. When she entered her 30s, Eagels began suffering from bouts of ill health that were exacerbated by her excessive use of drugs and alcohol. In September 1929, Jeanne underwent eye surgery at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City. At the time, she was also suffering from breathing problems and neuritis. After a ten-day stay, she returned to her apartment on Park Avenue. On October 3, 1929, Jeanne and her secretary walked to the Park Avenue Hospital where Jeanne had an appointment. While talking to the doctor, she began having convulsions and died shortly thereafter.

The assistant chief medical examiner who performed Jeanne's autopsy concluded that she died of "alcoholic psychosis". The medical examiner stated that while Jeanne had not consumed alcohol in the two days preceding her death, she had been "acting strangely" and suffering from hallucinations three or four days before she died. Toxicology reports revealed that she still had alcohol in her organs when she died in addition to heroin and chloral hydrate (a sedative that Jeanne regularly took to sleep). Her death was attributed to an overdose of the chloral hydrate.


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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