Wallace Reid

The Life and Death of a Hollywood Idol


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About the Book

For a decade Wallace Reid was the most recognized face in Hollywood, the most universally beloved actor in silent film. Today all that is widely remembered of “Wally” Reid is that he died in a padded sanitarium cell, the victim of a fatal morphine addiction. Of all the actors who have enjoyed great fame only to vanish from the public eye, Reid perhaps fell the fastest and the hardest. This first full biography recounts Reid’s complicated childhood, his disrupted family history and his rise to film stardom despite these restricting factors. It documents his myriad talents and accomplishments, most notably his gift for brilliant onscreen acting. The text explores in depth how the modern studio, however unconsciously, turned the popular star, a well-adjusted man with a loving family, into a drug-dependent mental patient within three years. His death rocked the foundations of Hollywood, and the huge new industry that he helped build nearly died with “Dashing Wally Reid.”

About the Author(s)

The late E.J. Fleming researched Hollywood for decades and penned biographies of Carole Landis and Wallace Reid, among other books. He lived in the country in Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

E.J. Fleming

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 312
Bibliographic Info: 114 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013 [2007]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7725-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8266-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1

1. Family and Youth      3
2. Finding “the Movies”      22
3. Dorothy and the Davenports      35
4. Santa Barbara and Marriage      47
5. The Birth of a Star      64
6. Lasky’s “Diamond”      78
7. Stardom      90
8. War and Work      102
9. Where’s Wally?      118
10. Accident, and Addiction      134
11. “Good-Time Wally” Faces the Abyss      152
12. Barely Hanging On      167
13. The Industry Teeters, and Wally Falls      192
14. The Curtain Falls on a Tragedy      210
15. Human Wreckage      226

Filmography      241
Chapter Notes      261
Selected Bibliography      281
Index      289

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Exhaustive…recommended”—Library Journal
  • “Excellent…loads of solid research…a book of riches…a must-read…well written, informative…get this book…will be a revelation to a lot of film fans”—Classic Images
  • “Exhaustively researched, alternately fascinating…filled with information, and interesting rare photo illustrations…this book offers a lot of detail, especially impressive in that motion picture’s early years can sometimes be difficult to research, especially prior to 1915…most highly recommended”—Examiner.com
  • “In-depth biography…extensive research”—Midnight Palace