Murray, Mae (1885–1965)

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Murray, Mae (1885–1965)

American silent-film actress. Born Marie Adrienne Koenig on May 10, 1885 (other sources cite 1886, 1889, and 1890), in Portsmouth, Virginia; died in 1965; married third husband, Robert Z. Leonard (a director), in 1918 (divorced 1925); married fourth husband Prince David Mdivani, in 1925 or 1926 (divorced 1933); children: (fourth marriage) Koran.

Selected filmography:

To Have and to Hold (1916); Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1916); The Dream Girl (1916); The Big Sister (1916); The Plow Girl (1916); A Mormon Maid (1917); The Primrose Ring (1917); Princess Virtue (1917); Face Value (1918); The Bride's Awakening (1918); Her Body in Bond (1918); Modern Love (1918); What Am I Bid? (1919); The Delicious Little Devil (1919); The Big Little Person (1919); The A.B.C. of Love (1919); On With the Dance (1920); The Right to Love (1920); Idols of Clay (1920); The Gilded Lily (1921); Peacock Alley (1921); Fascination (1922); Broadway Rose (1922); Jazzmania (1923); The French Doll (1923); Fashion Row (1923); Mademoiselle Midnight (1924); Circe the Enchantress (1924); The Merry Widow (1925); The Masked Bride (1925); Valencia (1926); Altars of Desire (1927); Show People (1928); Peacock Alley (1930); Bachelor Apartment (1931); High Stakes (1931).

Whimsical silent-film star Mae Murray was born on May 10, 1885, in Portsmouth, Virginia. The daughter of Austrian and Belgian immigrants, she was originally named Marie Adrienne Koenig, although she would later claim that she had always been Mae Murray. She began dancing in childhood and when she was about 21 appeared on Broadway in About Town. She performed in several Ziegfeld Follies productions and made her screen debut in 1916 in To Have and to Hold with Wallace Reid. Murray was an attractive blonde who, despite minimal acting ability, became a major silent-film star. Given to vagaries and artistic eccentricities which she perhaps played up for effect, Murray was married four times. Her third marriage, in 1918, was to Robert Z. Leonard, who directed several of her better movies. Critics agree that her best performance was in Erich von Stroheim's The Merry Widow in 1925.

Mae Murray's career began to decline in 1926 following her marriage to fourth husband Prince David Mdivani (whose brother was once married to Pola Negri ). When he insisted she walk out on her Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract, she did so, and thereafter had a difficult time getting work. Murray, who divorced Mdivani in 1933, subsequently lost custody of her son and was forced into bankruptcy. She published her autobiography, The Self-Enchanted, to little notice in 1959 and died in obscurity in 1965.


Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Schickel, Richard. The Stars. NY: Bonanza Books, 1962.

Ellen Dennis French , freelance writer, Murrieta, California

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Murray, Mae (1885–1965)

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