Mae Murray

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Mae Murray, 1926
Mae Murray's grave

Mae Murray , actually Marie Adrienne Koenig (born May 10, 1885 in New York City , † March 23, 1965 in Woodland Hills , Los Angeles , California ), was an American actress and dancer . In the mid-1920s, she was one of the most successful and highest-paid film stars in Hollywood .


Mae Murray, who gave 1889 as her year of birth, began her career in 1906 as a stage actress on the Broadway show About Town . Two years later she became a group dancer for the Ziegfeld Follies and rose to become an individual dancer by 1915. In 1916 she made her debut as a film actress in To Have and to Hold by George Melford . Many of her films contain dance routines tailored to her, especially those of her third husband Robert Z. Leonard , under whose direction she played almost exclusively from 1917 to 1924. By 1922 she was already making about $ 10,000 a week. She was one of the most successful stars of the old Metro studios when they merged with other companies to form MGM in 1924. Most of her productions during this period were made by her own Tiffany company and were often about love affairs in high society. In 1925 the actress, who was popular as The Girl with the bee-stung lips because of her heart -shaped mouth made up , was at the height of her career. She had her most famous role as Sally O'Hara in Erich von Stroheim's version of the operetta The Merry Widow .

A year later, after some violent arguments with Louis B. Mayer , she ended her current contract, although her strip Valencia was one of the biggest successes of the year. The title song is still often played today. Mayer then put the actress on an industry-wide "black" list so that she was no longer offered any roles. Her last film for the studio was a romantic comedy called Altars of Desire . Her husband, the Georgian Prince David Mdivani from the Mdivani clan, is believed to be the reason for the breach of contract . Marriage to a real nobleman has been considered chic among female Hollywood stars since Gloria Swanson's marriage to the Marquis de la Falaise in 1924; Pola Negri became Murray's sister-in-law by marriage into the Mdivani family.

In the summer of 1928, reporters found that Murray and Mdivani had a son, Koran Mdivani (1926-2018). Murray stated that the Koran was born in February 1927. In fact, she had given birth to the child in Paris on January 5, 1926, six months before she married David Mdivani.

Mae Murray's career ended in the early 1930s: her sound film debut with Peacock Alley came comparatively late in 1930 and was a commercial failure. She then appeared in two films in 1931 as an actress in major supporting roles in front of the camera, then her career was over. A short time later, Murray divorced Mdivani. All of her fortune had gone to waste, litigation and the stock market crash. When her son Koran fell ill and Mae could not pay for the treatment, the doctor's family took the son into care. After a bitter custody battle, the Koran decided in 1940 to stay with the foster parents. In December 1940 he was officially adopted by them and given the name Daniel Michael Cunning. In the 1940s she attempted a comeback with a nostalgia revue show produced by Billy Rose , albeit with little success.

Mae Murray had both financial and psychological problems for the last few decades of her life. She made the headlines several times for her eccentric behavior, for example she is said to have been picked up by the police, disoriented and humming the waltz of the Merry Widow . In 1949, Billy Wilder allegedly considered casting Mae Murray as the forgotten and volatile silent film diva Norma Desmond - who is said to be in part inspired by Mae Murray's life - on Sunset Boulevard . According to the research of the film historian Michael G. Ankerich, however, this was never a serious issue because Mae Murray was emotionally and psychologically not stable enough. Murray's frequently quoted comment about Norma's character: “None of us floozies was ever that nuts!” Is also not intended to be true. Her autobiography The Self Enchanted, recorded through interviews with journalist Jane Ardmore, received little public response. Mae Murray died in Woodland Hills in 1965 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital , a California retirement home for the movie industry.

Filmography (selection)

Mae Murray about 1917
  • 1916: To Have and to Hold
  • 1916: Sweet Kitty Bellairs
  • 1917: A Mormon Maid
  • 1919: The Twin Pawns
  • 1919: The Delicious Little Devil
  • 1922: Broadway Rose
  • 1923: The French Doll
  • 1924: Mademoiselle Midnight
  • 1925: The Dancer of Moulin-Rouge (The Masked Bride)
  • 1925: The Merry Widow (The Merry Widow)
  • 1926: Valencia
  • 1927: Altars of Desire
  • 1928: Things are happening in Hollywood ( Show People , cameo)
  • 1930: Peacock Alley
  • 1931: Bachelor Apartment
  • 1931: High stakes


  • Michael G. Ankerich: Mae Murray - The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips. Kentucky 2013. ISBN 978-0-8131-3690-5
  • Jane Kesner Ardmore: The Self-Enchanted: Mae Murray, Image of an Era. New York 1959.
  • Susanne Buck: murderer, fashion, dowry hunter. Jonas Verlag, Weimar 2019, ISBN 978-3894455682

Web links

Commons : Mae Murray  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ State of New York, City of New York, birth return, # 426851, May 13, 1885 (date the birth was reported). Source: Michael G. Ankerich: Mae Murray - The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips. Kentucky 2013, p. 337
  2. Mae Murray: How I got into film. Illustrated Film Week, accessed on May 9, 2020 .
  3. ^ Obituary of Daniel Michael Cunning | Morris-Stebbins-Miner & Sanvidge Funeral Home. Retrieved March 23, 2020 (American English).
  4. Michael G. Ankerich: Mae Murray - The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips . Kentucky 2013, p. 172 .
  5. Michael G. Ankerich: Mae Murray - The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips . Kentucky 2013, p. 257 ff .
  6. Michael G. Ankerich: Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-stung Lips . University Press of Kentucky, 2012, ISBN 978-0-8131-3690-5 ( [accessed March 23, 2020]).
  7. ^ Mae Murray - Women Film Pioneers Project. Retrieved March 23, 2020 .
  8. ^ Mae Murray - Women Film Pioneers Project. Retrieved March 23, 2020 .
  9. Michael G. Ankerich: Mae Murray - The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips . Kentucky 2013, p. 279 .