Meredyth, Bess 1890-1969

views updated

Meredyth, Bess 1890-1969
(Helen Elizabeth MacGlashan)


Original name, Helen Elizabeth MacGlashan; born February 12, 1890, in Buffalo, NY; died July 13, 1969, in Woodland Hills, CA; married Wilfred Lucas (an actor; deceased, 1940), divorced; married Michael Curtiz (a director; died, 1962), 1928; children: (first marriage) John (died, 2002).


Screenwriter, director, and actress.


(Adaptor) Allie Lowe Miles, When a Man Loves: The Story of a Deathless Passion, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1927.

(With Gene Fowler) The Mighty Barnum, Covici-Friede (New York, NY), 1934, Garland (New York, NY) 1978.


(With Dell Henderson) The Modern Prodigal, Biograph, 1910.

The Mystery of Yellow Aster Mine, 101-Bison, 1913.

The Gratitude of Wanda, 101-Bison, 1913.

Cross Purposes, Powers Picture Plays, 1913.

The Countess Betty's Mine, Nestor Film, 1914.

The Voice of the Viola, Nestor Film, 1914.

The Way of a Woman, Nestor Film, 1914.

Cupid Incognito, Nestor Film, 1914.

Women and Roses, Nestor Film, 1914.

The Forbidden Room, 101-Bison, 1914.

The Mystery of Wickham Hall, Powers Picture Plays, 1914.

Passing the Love of Woman, Powers Picture Plays, 1914.

The Severed Hand, Powers Picture Plays, 1914.

The Love Victorious, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1914.

Her Twin Brother, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1914.

When Bess Got In Wrong, Nestor Film, 1914.

When Lizzie Got Her Polish, Nestor Film, 1914.

A Woman's Debt, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1915.

The Mystery Woman, 101-Bison, 1915.

Wheels within Wheels, Big U, 1915.

Their Hour, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1915.

The Blood of the Children, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1915.

The Human Menace, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1915.

Putting One Over, Big U, 1915.

The Fear Within, Big U, 1915.

In His Mind's Eye, Big U, 1915.

The Fascination of the Fleur de Lis, Rex Motion Picture, 1915.

The Ghost Wagon, 101-Bison, 1915.

Stronger Than Death, Rex Motion Picture, 1915.

Mismates, Knickerbocker Star Features, 1916.

(With Mrs. Haines W. Reed) The Mother Instinct,101-Bison, 1916.

The Twin Triangle, Balboa Amusement Producing, 1916.

Spellbound, Balboa Amusement Producing, 1916.

(With Lucia Chamberlain and Jacques Jaccard) The Wedding Guest, 101-Bison, 1916.

(With H.O. Davis) Bringing Home Father, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1916.

Number 16 Martin Street, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) The Sody Clerk, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) A Thousand Dollars a Week,Nestor Film, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) He Becomes a Cop, Nestor Film, 1916.

The Heart of a Show Girl, Rex Motion Picture, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) Hired and Fired, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1916.

(With Sylvia Andrew and Sylvia Gibson) The Small Magnetic Hand, Rex Motion Picture, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) He Almost Lands an Angel,Nestor Film, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) A Hero by Proxy, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) Borrowed Plumes, Nestor Film, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) Breaking into Society, Nestor Film, 1916.

(With Robert A. Dillon) Fame at Last, Nestor Film, 1916.

(With E. Magnus Ingleton) The Decoy, Independent Moving Pictures, 1916.

(With Robert Hobart Davis) A Price on His Head, Big U, 1916.

The White Turkey, Nestor Film, 1916.

Pass the Prunes, Nestor Film, 1916.

It Sounded Like a Kiss, Nestor Film, 1916.

Pretty Baby, Nestor Film, 1916.

(With T. Shelley Sutton) Practice What You Preach,Nestor Film, 1917.

One Thousands Miles an Hour, Nestor Film, 1917.

(With Eddie Lyons and Lee Moran) Treat 'Em Rough,Nestor Film, 1917.

(With E.J. Clawson) The Little Orphan, Bluebird, 1917.

(With Eddie Lyons and Lee Moran) A Macaroni Sleuth, Nestor Film, 1917.

(With Charles J. Wilson) Why, Uncle!, Nestor Film, 1917.

His Wife's Relatives, Nestor Film, 1917.

(With Virginia Kirtley) A Million in Sight, Nestor Film, 1917.

(With Calder Johnstone) The Girl Who Lost, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1917.

The Townsend Divorce Case, Rex Motion Picture, 1917.

(With Hector Sarno and Arthur F. Statter) The Light of Love, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1917.

Three Women of France, Rex Motion Picture, 1917.

(With Tom Gibson) The Midnight Man, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1917.

(With Willard Mack) A Wife's Suspicion, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1917.

(With Maie B. Havey) A Five Foot Ruler, Victor Film, 1917.

(With Joseph De Grasse) Pay Me!, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1917.

(With Cosmo Hamilton and Charles Giblyn) Scandal,Select Pictures, 1917.

(With Wilfred Lucas, and director) Morgan's Raiders,Bluebird, 1918.

(Adaptor) David Graham Phillips and Roy Somerville,The Grain of Dust, Ogden Pictures, 1918.

(With Honore Morrow) The Red, Red Heart, Bluebird, 1918.

Pretty Babies, L-KO, 1918.

(With Bernard McConville) That Devil, Bateese,Bluebird, 1918.

(With Edgar Rice Burroughs and Wilfred Lucas) The Romance of Tarzan, National Film, 1918.

The Man Who Wouldn't Tell, Vitagraph, 1918.

(With Rebecca Lane Hooper Eastman) Big Little Person, Universal Film Manufacturing, 1919.

(With Wilfred Lucas, and director) Girl from Nowhere,National Film, 1919.

The Jackeroo of Coolabong, Carroll-Baker Australian Productions, 1920.

(With Wilfred Lucas) The Fighting Breed, Selig-Rork Productions, 1921.

(With Wilfred Lucas) The Shadow of Lightning Ridge,Selig-Rork Productions, 1921.

(With Rita Weiman) The Grim Comedian, Goldwyn Pictures, 1921.

(With Frances Irene Reels) The Song of Life, Louis B. Mayer Productions, 1922.

(With Charles Kenyon and Albert Payson Terhune)Grand Larceny, Goldwyn Pictures, 1922.

(With Herbert Bashford) The Woman He Married,Louis B. Mayer Productions, 1922.

(With Frances Nimmo Greene) One Clear Call, Louis B. Mayer Productions, 1922.

(With Oliver Sandys and Madge Tyrone) Rose o' the Sea, Louis B. Mayer Productions, 1922.

(With others) The Dangerous Age, Louis B. Mayer Productions, 1923.

(With others) Strangers of the Night, Louis B. Mayer Productions, 1923.

(With C. Schöner, and adaptor) Thy Name Is Woman,Louis B. Mayer Productions, 1924.

(With Fred Niblo) The Red Lily, Metro-Goldwyn Pictures, 1924.

(With Jane Murfin and Samuel Shipman) A Slave of Fashion, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1925.

(And adaptor) The Love Hour, Vitagraph, 1925.

The Wife Who Wasn't Wanted, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1925.

(With Carey Wilson) Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1925.

(With others) The Sea Beast, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1926.

(With others) Don Juan, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1926.

(With Graham Baker and Melville Crossman) Irish Hearts, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1927.

(With others) The Magic Flame, Samuel Goldwyn, 1927.

(With others, and adaptor, with Philip Bartholomae)Rose of the Golden West, First National Pictures, 1927.

(With others, and adaptor) Sailors' Wives, First National Pictures, 1928.

(With others) The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come,First National Pictures, 1928.

(With Lajos Biró and Garrett Graham) Yellow Lily,First National Pictures, 1928.

The Scarlet Lady, Columbia Pictures, 1928.

(With others) The Mysterious Lady,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1928.

(With others) A Woman of Affairs,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1928.

(With Marian Ainslee and Hermann Sudermann)Wonder of Women, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1929.

(With others) Chasing Rainbows,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1930.

(With others) In Gay Madrid, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1930.

(With John Howard Lawson and Dorothy Yost) The Sea Bat, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1930.

(With others) Our Blushing Brides,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1930.

(With Edwin Justus Mayer and Edward Sheldon)Romance, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1930.

(With Wells Root) The Prodigal,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1931.

(With others) Laughing Sinners,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1931.

(With others) The Phantom of Paris,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1931.

(With others) West of Broadway,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1931.

(With others) The Cuban Love Song,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1931.

(With Eugene O'Neill and C. Gardner Sullivan)Strange Interlude, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932.

(With Dodie Smith and H.M. Harwood) Looking Forward, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1933.

(With Edwin Justus Mayer) The Affairs of Cellini,Twentieth Century Pictures, 1934.

(With H.M. Harwood) The Iron Duke, Gaumont British Picture, 1934.

(With others) Folies Bergère de Paris, Twentieth Century Pictures, 1935.

(George Marion, Jr.) Metropolitan, Twentieth Century-Fox Pictures, 1935.

(With others) Under Two Flags, Twentieth Century-Fox Pictures, 1936.

(With others) Half Angel, Twentieth Century-Fox Pictures, 1936.

(With Charles S. Belden and Scott Darling) Charlie Chan at the Opera, Twentieth Century-Fox Film, 1936.

(With Mignon G. Eberhart, Jerome Cady, and William M. Conselman) The Great Hospital Mystery,Twentieth Century-Fox Film, 1937.

(Adaptor, with Garrett Fort) Johnston McCulley and John Taintor Foote, The Mark of Zorro, Twentieth Century-Fox Film, 1940.

(With others) That Night in Rio, Twentieth Century-Fox Film, 1941.

(Adaptor) Charlotte Armstrong and Ranald MacDougall,The Unsuspected, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1947.


Bess Meredyth was one of the solid core of first-class screenwriters, the majority of whom were women, who began their careers in the silent era and continued to enjoy success on into the coming of sound. Like many of the other women writers, Meredyth had early work in short-story and newspaper writing, as well as in vaudeville and stage acting. She began her career in films as an actress, starting in 1911 as an extra for D.W. Griffith at Biograph in New York, and soon went to Hollywood. Meredyth had success writing and selling scenarios as early as 1913. In 1915 she was selected to be assistant to Joseph Vance in the preparation of all scripts for Fiction Pictures Inc. By this time, Meredyth had written some 140 scenarios. In 1918 she directed with Wilfred LucasThe Romance of Tarzan (sequel to Tarzan of the Apes) for the National Film Corporation.

Meredyth later wrote for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Warner Brothers Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and other major studios. Her scripts included vehicles for stars such as John Barrymore, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and Clark Gable. Notable screenwriting credits include the Roman epic Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, where she and Carey Wilson were hired to replace scenarist June Mathis; the high budget (more than 4.5 million dollars) spectacle, shot in Italy, and incorporating two-color Technicolor sequences, proved to be a big success for MGM. Meredyth was also the scenarist on another hit, Don Juan, a lavish costume drama. Warners' first feature film using the revolutionary Vitaphone sound process, it began with a synchronized speech, and featured a recorded orchestral score performed by the New York Philharmonic.

Andre Sennwald compared The Mighty Barnum film to the book in a New York Times review, commenting: "As a film The Mighty Barnum is almost sober by comparison with the published edition … with its hilarious marginalia" but later conceded that the film "continues to be an entertaining historical fable." In another New York Times review, Bosley Crowther found the plot of The Unsuspected "artificial." He stated: "It isn't long before everyone must know who ‘the unsuspected’ is—a mystery which even the writers don't try to push into the stretch." Sennwald also reviewed Metropolitan in the same periodical, saying that "the story … is excellent in its own right."



New York Times, December 24, 1934, Andre Sennwald, review of The Mighty Barnum; January 25, 1935, Andre Sennwald, review of Iron Duke;October 18, 1935, Andre Sennwald, review ofMetropolitan; May 30, 1936, B.R.C., review ofHalf Angel; December 5, 1936, T.M.P., review ofCharlie Chan at the Opera; November 4, 1940, Bosley Crowther, review of The Mark of Zorro;March 10, 1941, Bosley Crowther, review of That Night in Rio; October 4, 1947, Bosley Crowther, review of The Unsuspected.


All Movie Guide, (July 15, 2006), author profile.

Internet Movie Database, (July 15, 2006), author profile.

Movies Directed by Women, (July 15, 2006), author profile.