Jean Acker

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Jean Acker
Jean Acker 1 - Nov 1922 Photoplay.jpg
Acker photographed by James Abbe, 1920s
Born
Harriet Ackers

(1892-10-23)October 23, 1892
DiedAugust 16, 1978(1978-08-16) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery
Other namesMrs. Rudolph Valentino
OccupationActress
Years active1913–1955
Spouse
(m. 1919; div. 1923)
Partner(s)Grace Darmond (1918–1923)
Chloe Carter (1923–1978)

Jean Acker (born Harriet Ackers; October 23, 1892 – August 16, 1978) was an American actress with a career dating from the silent film era through the 1950s. She was perhaps best known as the estranged wife of silent film star Rudolph Valentino.

Early life and career[edit]

Jean Acker was born Harriet Ackers on October 23, 1892 in Trenton, New Jersey to Joseph and Margaret Ackers. The 1900 census indicates an 1891 birthdate,[1][unreliable source?] and other sources have suggested an 1893 birthdate.[2][3] However, her burial plot says 1892.[4][unreliable source?] Her parents divorced, and her father remarried to Eleanor Bruseren in 1906.[5][unreliable source?] They had two sons together, both named Joseph. Their first son died at 4 months old in 1907, and their second son was a stillbirth.[6][unreliable source?][7][unreliable source?][8][unreliable source?] Eleanor and Joseph divorced in 1912, and he remarried a third time to Virginia Erb.[9][unreliable source?] Her father managed the Casino Bowling Alley and The Ritz Restaurant, and later owned the Boston Shoe Store on Valley Street. He also managed several bowling alleys in the Philadelphia area. In 1906, the family moved to Lewistown. Growing up on a farm, Ackers became an expert horsewoman. She attended St. Mary's Seminary in Springfield, New Jersey for a time.

She performed in vaudeville until she moved to California in 1919.[10] After arriving in Hollywood, Acker became the protegee and lover of Alla Nazimova, an actress whose clout and contacts enabled Acker to negotiate a $200 per week contract with a movie studio. Acker appeared in numerous films during the 1910s and 1920s, but by the early 1930s, she began appearing in small, mostly uncredited film roles. She made her last on-screen appearance in the 1955 film How to Be Very, Very Popular, opposite Betty Grable.

Marriage to Valentino[edit]

Acker in 1923

After meeting and befriending the then-struggling actor Rudolph Valentino at a party, they entered a two-month courtship and married on November 6, 1919. Acker quickly had regrets and locked him out of their hotel bedroom on their wedding night.[11][12] The marriage was reportedly never consummated.[13]

After filing for divorce, Valentino did not wait the requisite period for it to be finalized before marrying his second wife, Natacha Rambova, in Mexico, and he was charged with bigamy when the couple returned to the United States.[14] Acker then sued Valentino for the legal right to call herself Mrs. Rudolph Valentino. Valentino remained angry with her for several years, but they mended their friendship before his death in 1926. Acker wrote a popular song about him soon after he died called "We Will Meet at the End of the Trail".[15][16]

Acker had an affair with the actress Alla Nazimova. Nazimova included Acker in what was dubbed the sewing circles, a group of actresses who were forced to conceal the fact that they were lesbian or bisexual, thus living secret lives.[17] Another of her female lovers was Grace Darmond, with whom she was involved during her relationship with Valentino.

In the 1977 film Valentino a character loosely based on Acker is played by Carol Kane. In the credits, the character is simply called Starlet.

Later life and death[edit]

After divorcing Valentino in 1923, Acker was engaged to Marquis Luis de Bezan y Sandoval of Spain.[18] Then, she was in the news over her relationship with Rahmin Bey.[19] In 1930, after she lost her fortune in the 1929 stock market crash, she sued William Delahanty, claiming that he agreed to pay her $18,400 per year if she gave up her film career. The married politician denied that he made such a promise but admitted that he spent thousands of dollars on Acker.[20] Acker met Chloe Carter (June 21, 1903 – October 28, 1993), a former Ziegfeld Follies girl, who was the first wife of film composer Harry Ruby.[21] Acker remained with Carter for the rest of her life. The couple owned an apartment building together in Beverly Hills.[22] Acker died of natural causes in 1978 at the age of 85,[23] and is buried next to Carter at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[24]

Legacy[edit]

Although not born in the Central Pennsylvania town of Lewistown, Jean Acker is considered a local celebrity. Her face dominates an outdoor mural titled "Mifflin County Movie History" and is located on Monument Square in Downtown Lewistown. The mural was painted in 2012 by Dwight Kirkland of Blackleaf Studio, Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.

Filmography[edit]

Jean Acker filmography
Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
1913 The Man Outside Helen Lattimore Short
1913 In a Woman's Power Marcelle – the Wife
1913 Bob's Baby Bob's Cousin Short
1913 The Daredevil Mountaineer Short
1914 The $5,000,000 Counterfeiting Plot Helen Long Dramascope Co. [25]
1915 Are You a Mason? Alternative title: The Joiner
Famous Players Film Company
[26]
1919 Never Say Quit Vamp Fox Film [27]
1919 Checkers Pert Barlow Fox Film [28]
1919 Lombardi, Ltd. Daisy Metro Pictures [29]
1919 The Blue Bandanna Ruth Yancy Jesse D. Hampton Productions [30]
1920 The Ladder of Lies Dora Leroy Famous Players-Lasky Corp. [31]
1920 An Arabian Knight Zorah Haworth Pictures Corp. [32]
1920 Help Wanted - Male Ethel Jesse D. Hampton Productions [33]
1920 The Round-Up Polly Hope Famous Players-Lasky Corp. [34]
1921 See My Lawyer Betty Gardner Christie Film Company [35]
1921 Brewster's Millions Barbara Drew Famous Players-Lasky Corp. [36]
1921 Wealth Estelle Rolland Famous Players-Lasky Corp. [37]
1921 The Kiss Isabella Chavez Universal Pictures [38]
1922 Her Own Money Ruth Alden Famous Players-Lasky Corp. [39]
1923 The Woman in Chains Felicia Coudret Credited as Mrs. Rudolph Valentino
Amalgamated Producing Corp.
[40]
1925 Braveheart Sky-Arrow Cinema Corp. of America [41]
1926 The Ace of Cads Rumored to be cast, but no show
Famous Players-Lasky Corp.
[42]
1927 The Nest Belle Madison Excellent Pictures Corp. [43]
1933 No Marriage Ties Adrienne's Maid Listed in pre-production notes only [44]
1934 Miss Fane's Baby Is Stolen Friend of Miss Fane Uncredited
Paramount Pictures
[45]
1935 The Lone Wolf Returns Unknown Billed as Jean Acker Valentino
Columbia Pictures
[46]
1935 It's in the Air Rumored to be cast, but no show
MGM
[47]
1936 San Francisco Rumored to be cast, but no show
MGM
[48]
1937 Vogues of 1938 Extra Uncredited
1939 Good Girls Go to Paris Bit Part Uncredited
1940 My Favorite Wife Postponed case witness Uncredited
RKO Pictures
[49]
1942 Obliging Young Lady Cousin Uncredited
RKO Pictures
[50]
1945 The Thin Man Goes Home Tart Uncredited
MGM
[51]
1945 The Stork Club Saleslady DeSylva Productions, Inc. [52]
1945 Spellbound Matron Selznick International Pictures [53]
1946 It's a Wonderful Life Townswoman Uncredited
Liberty Films
[54]
1947 The Peril of Pauline Switchboard operator Uncredited
Paramount
[55]
1948 Isn't It Romantic? Townswoman Uncredited
Paramount
[56]
1951 The Mating Season Party guest Uncredited
Paramount
[57]
1952 Something to Live For Wife Uncredited
Paramount
[58]
1955 How to Be Very, Very Popular Minor Role Rumored to be cast, but no show
20th Century Fox
[59]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ancestry.com
  2. ^ Wlaschin, Ken (2009). The Silent Cinema in Song, 1896–1929: An Illustrated History and Catalog of Songs Inspired by the Movies and Stars, with a List of Recordings. ISBN 9780786438044.
  3. ^ Klepper, Robert K. (1999). Silent Films, 1877–1996: A Critical Guide to 646 Movies. ISBN 9780786405954.
  4. ^ "U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current - Ancestry.com". www.ancestry.com.
  5. ^ "Join Ancestry". www.ancestry.com.
  6. ^ ancestry.com
  7. ^ ancestry.com
  8. ^ ancestry.com
  9. ^ ancestry.com
  10. ^ Leider, Emily W. Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino. New York City, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003. ISBN 0-374-28239-0. p. 100.
  11. ^ "Jean Acker of Metro Weds". Motion Picture News. 1919. p. 3774.
  12. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 935. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  13. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 7. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  14. ^ Madsen, Axel (2002). The Sewing Circle: Sappho's Leading Ladies. Kensington Books. p. 103. ISBN 0-7582-0101-X.
  15. ^ Newman, Ben-Allah (2004). Rudolph Valentino His Romantic Life and Death: His Romantic Life and Death. Kessinger Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 1-4179-1464-5.
  16. ^ Briggs, Joe Bob (2005). Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies that Changed History. Universe. p. 30. ISBN 0-7893-1314-6.
  17. ^ Jean Acker at Find a Grave
  18. ^ "The Evening News – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  19. ^ "The Deseret News – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  20. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  21. ^ "Rochester Evening Journal – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  22. ^ Shearer, Stephen Michael (2006). Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. University Press of Kentucky. p. 391. ISBN 0-8131-2391-7.
  23. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  24. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 325). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  25. ^ "The $5,000,000 Counterfeiting Plot". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  26. ^ "Are You a Mason?". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  27. ^ "Never Say Quit". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  28. ^ "Checkers". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  29. ^ "Lombardi, Ltd". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  30. ^ "The Blue Bandanna". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  31. ^ "The Ladder of Lies". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  32. ^ "An Arabian Knight". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  33. ^ "Help Wanted – Male". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  34. ^ "The Round-Up". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  35. ^ "See My Lawyer". UCLA Film and Television Archive. 1921. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  36. ^ "Brewster's Millions". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  37. ^ "Wealth". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  38. ^ "The Kiss". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  39. ^ "Her Own Money". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  40. ^ "The Woman in Chains". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  41. ^ "Braveheart (1925)". UCLA Film and Television Archive. 1925. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  42. ^ "The Ace of Cads". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  43. ^ "The Nest". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  44. ^ "No Marriage Ties". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  45. ^ "Miss Fane's Baby Is Stolen". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  46. ^ "The Lone Wolf Returns". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  47. ^ "It's in the Air". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  48. ^ "San Francisco". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  49. ^ "My Favorite Wife". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  50. ^ "Obliging Young Lady". AFI|Catalog. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  51. ^ "The Thin Man Goes Home". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  52. ^ "The Stork Club". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  53. ^ "Spellbound (Motion picture : 1945)". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  54. ^ "It's a Wonderful Life". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  55. ^ "The Peril of Pauline". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  56. ^ "Townswoman". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  57. ^ "The Mating Season". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  58. ^ "Something to Live For". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  59. ^ "How to Be Very, Very Popular". UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved September 27, 2020.

External links[edit]