When I first heard about Ethel Shannon it seemed like there wasn't much information out there about her and only one or two pictures. Well, thankfully I have found enough of both to warrant a lovely write up about this cute silent screen gal.
It really bugs me when I want to know more about a silent film star and I look and look and can't seem to find anything about them. Same goes with pictures, especially if the actor was famous during there time. There has gotta be something left of them! Thankfully for the Internet and archives, things are looking up!
Ethel Shannon was born on May 22, 1898 in Denver, Colorado, the only child of James and Agnes Shannon. The couple divorced when Ethel was still a child, so, it become Agnes's priority to find Ethel and her a home and to secure a job.
According to a 1910 census record Agnes found a job as a housekeeper for the Hollenbeak family. She and Ethel were also living with the family at this time.
As soon as Ethel completed school, she moved to Hollywood. She had been acting on stage for awhile and even toured briefly with the legendary stage star, Maude Adams, so it seemed that the new movie making Mecca was just the next stop in her career. Shortly after she arrived a friend told her about a great job opportunity at a nearby film studio. Ethel went to the studio to check it out and soon began working as an extra.
She made her screen debut in the 1919 film, Easy to Make Money, which starred Bert Lytell.
During her relatively short career, Ethel had the chance to appear on screen with such big names as William S. Hart, Boris Karloff, Barbara La Marr, and Zasu Pitts. Another big name she starred alongside was the Sultan of Swat himself, Babe Ruth! Ethel once told reporters that Babe Ruth was "a second Roscoe Arbuckle" and that their other costar, Anna Q. Nilsson would complain that Ruth was being TOO funny. How do you like that?!
|Clara Bow and Ethel|
One of her biggest film roles was in the 1923 version of Maytime. This version is the one that is based solely on the original stage production, whereas the 1937 version with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy basically just used the title. This film was recently found in New Zealand, was restored, and is now available on DVD. Not only is it a great chance to see Ethel in a starring role, but you also get to see Clara Bow in her earlier days! This one is definitely on my wish list!
In 1923, Ethel was one of the actresses picked to be a WAMPAS Baby Star. Also included that year was Jobyna Ralston and Evelyn Brent.
Even though Ethel was popular with audiences and received a ton of rave reviews, she retired from Hollywood in 1927. Her last role was in the film Through Thick and Thin.
Ethel Shannon passed away on July 10, 1951 in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I do not know what she passed away from.
She was buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale.
Ethel was married twice. Her first husband was a broker named Robert Cary and they were married in 1924. The couple eventually divorced, but I am not sure what year. Her second husband was screenwriter Joseph Jackson. The two were married in 1927 and had a son, Joseph, a year later. Her marriage and son's birth were cited as the reason behind Ethel's retirement from film. Sadly, Joseph Jackson drowned in 1932. Ethel never remarried, although there were some near husbands down the line.
Like her IT girl costar, Clara Bow, Ethel was also a red head.
"The first really big thing that happened to me was when, at the age of eighteen I decided to quit the stage and go into pictures. It was then that I first started to keep a diary. Yes, I really did keep one and though my friends teased me frightfully about it I haven't missed an entry since the day I began it. I think that's a record." ~~ Ethel Shannon, Pictures and the Picturegoer, 1924