Miss Maude Fealy

...the Beauty and the Actress   



These are women who were more than just beautiful, they were talented and were able to have successful careers for themselves during a period when men dominated the entertainment industry. With the passage of time, many of these stars have dimmed and are now only distant memories, but one name continues to sparkle... Maude Fealy.  Known for her great beauty and talent, the actress was probably  photographed more than any other actress of the early 1900's.  Her popular photographs were collected all over the world.  Now those photos continue to pop up with amazing regularity on the internet and she has become very "collectible" all over again.  For those who still don't know Maude Fealy, this page hopes to correct that.   

Please click on small photos to open large photos

Maude Hawk was born in Memphis, Tennessee March 4, 1881, the daughter of actress and acting coach Margaret Fealy and Memphian James Hawk.  Shortly afterwards, Margaret divorced Maude's father and then went by her maiden name of Fealy which she adopted for Maude as well.  She was now "Maude Fealy".  Maude's exact birth date has never been clearly established and ranges from 1881 to 1886. 

Maude began appearing on stage with her mother from the age of 3.  She played numerous children's roles until the age of 10, when Margaret enrolled her at the private and prestigious Higbee School in Memphis to complete her education.  Previously she had attended the old Memphis High School.


Margaret was obliged to be away a great deal of the time on theatrical tours.  The separation made both of them very homesick.  Once Maude was enrolled in the Higbee School, Margaret "retired" from acting and concentrated on teaching acting from her home until Maude had completed her education.  Home was a boarding house at 245 Madison in Memphis, which is now the site of the Memphis YMCA building.  Margaret named her acting school The Tabor Grand School of Acting.  By the time Maude finished school, her mother had married Rafaello Cavallo, the first conductor of the Pueblo, Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the family would soon move to Denver.  Once they moved, Maude and her mother lived in Colorado off and on for the rest of her life.  The Memphis directories confirm that the Fealy's were still living in Memphis in 1895 when Maude would have been about 14.

Margaret Fealy

Higbee School Beale-Lauderdale 1888

Maude and Margaret

Rafaello Cavallo

1895 Directory

Margaret's School Ad       


By 1900 at the age of 16 or 19 (no one is sure), Maude made her Broadway debut in the production of "Quo Vadis", again with her mother.  In 1901 she was invited to begin a tour of England with famous actor William Gillette in "Sherlock Holmes".  In 1903, Fealy's photograph won the 1,000 franc prize in the International Contest of the Beauties of the World, sponsored by The Paris Figaro Illustre.  She continued touring in the UK between 1902 and 1905 becoming an International star.  By 1907 she was the star in touring productions in the United States.  Maude appeared in her first silent film in 1911 for the Thanhouser Studios, making another 18 films by 1917.  After that she quit films for 14 years and organized her own company in Denver and toured the western half of the U.S.  She was now quite successful ... and very beautiful.



Maude in "Sherlock Holmes" 1901-2

Paris Figaro Illustre "Most Beautiful in World"

The thousands of photos of Maude Fealy are mostly undated.  Unfortunately it's impossible to arrange them by year.  That's compounded because  it's been said that when she was in her 30's, she looked 18.

Maude was a big star almost from the beginning.  Below are just a few of the New York papers with reviews, and articles about her.  They begin in 1901 and there are many more from every year, which are not included here.

Maude 1903  

1901 1902 1903 1904 1904 1904 1904


1907 1907-page 1 1907-Page 2 1907




1909 1910 1912 1913 Vintage Vintage

1914 1914 1914 1915 1916

Birthday Book 1918


First marriage:  Maude had settled in Denver where she met newspaper writer Hugo Louis Sherwin in 1907.  She married him, although it was a "secret marriage" - probably in name only, as Fealy says it was never consummated.  This was because of the meddling from Fealy's mother who went crazy when she found out about the marriage.  She threatened to never see her daughter again, because she had "given up so much, etc".  Maude gave in saying she "...cared for her mother too much and would have the marriage annulled and never see him again"  Two years later a quiet divorce was completed.  Sherwin would go on to become a well respected film and drama critic.

Hugo Louis Sherwin



1st Marriage 1st Marriage   Vintage photos and postcards of Maude Fealy



Vintage photos and postcards of Maude Fealy


Second marriage:  Soon after the divorce from Sherwin, Fealy married actor James Peter Durkin in 1909.  The marriage lasted eight years but ended in divorce in 1917.  This was during the period when Maude made the majority of her silent films for the Thanhouser Studios.  She and Durkin also ran a stock company and toured.  Durkin  was a well-respected actor and became a successful silent film director with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company.

Third marriage:  In 1920 Fealy married New York theatre manager, James Edward Cort, Jr.  It ended in a 1923 annulment and would be her last marriage.  There were no children from any of the marriages.  

James Durkin  

2nd Marriage

3rd Marriage Divorce 1923 Maude Laughs      

Postcard     Profile Profile


In the twenties and thirties, Maude Fealy concentrated on work as a playwright and appearing in vaudeville.  She co-wrote "The Red Cap" with Grant Stewart, which ran at the National Theatre in Chicago in 1928.  She also authored "At Midnight" and "The Promise".  But throughout her career,  Fealy continued to teach acting in the cities where she lived, early on with her mother, under names which included "Maude Fealy Studio of Speech", Fealy School of Stage and Screen Acting", and "Fealy School of Dramatic Expression".  She was drama coach to many important actors - Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Ernest Truex, and Nanette Fabray.   The three cities associated with her schools are Burbank (Los Angeles), Grand Rapids, and Denver.


For many summers, as far back as 1901, Maude began appearing in summer stock at the Lakeside Theatre at Elitch's Gardens, the famous Denver amusement park and theatre facility, playing in such productions as "A Royal Family", "The Prince and the Pauper", "Romeo and Juliet", and "Lady Dainty".  During her long seasons at Grand Rapids, she not only taught at her school, but acted in and directed many plays.

Elitch's Garden Theatre 1923 Directed by Maude Grand Rapids Players The Enemy 1927 Maude 1927


The Fealy School Fealy School 1928        


After her stepfather's death in 1942, Fealy and her mother relocated to California and opened a studio, the Fealy School of Dramatic Expression and the Fealy Studio of Drama.  Maude participated in the Federal Theatre Projects. Under the direction of Gareth Hughs, she enacted excerpts from Shakespeare's plays.   The restless Fealys relocated to Denver and opened the Maude 
Fealy Studio of Speech. Concurrent with teaching and directing, Fealy continued to promote her lecture series on Shakespeare, Dickens, Ibsen, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Women of the Bible. She advertised her one-woman shows on Famous Queens of History, Celebrated Women of the World and her religious and patriotic pageant programs.  


Her mother died in 1955 and Maude went into semi-retirement.  She remained active by continuing to lecture and perform until 1963. Her last performance took place at the Bonfils Theatre, Denver, in 1963. She performed the title role of Emily Griffith in a historical drama, which she authored.  

Rafaello Cavallo Obit Rafaello Cavallo Maude 1930s Maude 1940 Maude 1961     Margaret -Maude

Check the amazing late photos of Maude Fealy above.  In the 1930s, Maude would have been in her 50s.  In the 1940s - she would have been in her 60s.  And in 1961, she would have been 80. 

 "Actors never give up acting.  It gives them up."


In a late  interview, Maude summed up her life:  "I never lose my temper, because I hate scenes and I hate wasting time.  Moreover I can't bear to hurt anyone's feelings."

" As for cheerfulness, it's the greatest tonic in the world.  It makes one breathe well and deeply and helps one's complexion, and a good complexion helps one's appearance.  The appearance is an asset in making friends, and having friends helps success.  And while success doesn't always bring happiness, it certainly goes a long way."

Maude Fealy's films:   In the early 1900's, she was a feature star with Thanhouser Films.  Her films included

1911:  The Early Life of David Copperfield
1912:  Aurora Floyd
1913:  King Rene's Daughter, Little Dorrit, Moths, The Legend of provence, An Orphans Romance
1914:  Frou Frou, Runaway Princess, The Woman Pays, The Golden Cross, Kathleen,  The Irish Rose,
            The Musicians Daughter, Pamela Congreve, Was She Right in Forgiving Him?, Remorse, Deborah

1916:  Pamela's Past, Pamela Congreve.


King Renee's Daughter 1913 King Renee's Daughter 1913 Moths 1913 Moths 1913

Laugh and Get Rich 1931 Bulldog Drummond 1938 A Double Life 1947 Gaslight 1944

10 Commandments 1956

The Woman Pays 1914

Little Dorrit 1913

Pamela's Past 1916

The Unfaithful 1947

Union Pacific 1939 Motion Picture World 1913 Thanhouser Ad 1913 The Buccaneer 1938



 In the 1930s Maude had returned to Hollywood and at age 50 had begun doing secondary roles in films.  She also resumed her old friendship with Cecil B. DeMille.  They had met in 1906 in Denver when they acted together in summer stock at the Elitch Garden Theatre.  DeMille was enchanted and the two maintained a close friendship throughout their lives.  In the 1950s, Cecil B. DeMille signed Fealy for several of his productions including The Ten Commandments. For over ten years, she did dramatic coaching for DeMille's productions.  These small roles and un-credited parts were a way for Hollywood to thank her for all her past work.  It was also a way for her to maintain the very important "health insurance" and a small movie pension.  She had not invested wisely for her last years.

  Motion Pic Directory

Maude Fealy spent her last two years in California, at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital, a convalescent and retirement institution funded by the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund. She had been getting treatment for arteriosclerosis.  She died there in 1971 at the age of 90. Cecil B. DeMille had died in 1959, but left a provision in his will for her  entombment in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery Mausoleum, where her mother was interred.   DeMille is also buried in the same cemetery.



Maude's Marker Maude's Obit Obit Cecil B. DeMille DeMille's grave

Maude Fealy Memorabilia...

During her long career, Maude Fealy probably posed for more photographs than any actress in history.  Because of her amazing beauty, her photos were very much in demand.  Postcards and movie posters were big sellers.  Today, Maude has been re-discovered - once again because of her amazing beauty, she is now as popular as she was in the 1910s.  Her postcards, posters, and photographs show up regularly on Ebay.  Even new items are being created from reproductions of her photos.  And there are many, many websites dedicated to Maude and they also feature some of these beautiful photographs. 

  Sheet Music

Fealy Cigarettes

Magazine Covers Posters Ad - 1913 Book marks Sheet Music

Postcard Refrig Magnet Charms for Braclet Shot Glass Compact

  Magazine 1903

Postcards-Stage Favorites Fealy Postcards

Magazine 1907    



Rare 1901 Playbill with Maude Fealy in the London production of "Sherlock Holmes "  >>

  1905 1906 1906 1906 1907

1904 1905

Right Profile




The Historic-Memphis website does not intentionally post copyrighted photos and material without permission or credit.  On occasion a "non-credited" photo might possibly be posted because we were unable to find a name to give credit.  Because of the nature of our non-commercial, non-profit, educational website, we strongly believe that these photos would be considered "Fair Use.  We have certainly made no monetary gain, although those using this website for historic or Genealogy research have certainly profited.  If by chance, we have posted your copyrighted photo, please contact us, and we'll remove it immediately, or we'll add your credit if that's your choice.  In the past, we have found that many photographers volunteer to have their works included on these pages and we'll  also do that if you contact us with a photo that fits a particular page. 


The "Historic-Memphis" website would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commission, Carnival Memphis, Memphis Historical Railroad Page, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Kemmons Wilson Family, Richard S. Brashier, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Woody Savage and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.


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