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Finding Aid for the May McAvoy papers, 1910s-1980s
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May McAvoy was a silent screen actress who gained popularity during the early 1920s. She also reigned as Rose Queen for the 1923 Tournament of Roses. The collection consists of photographs, film stills, clippings, and ephemera related to her career.
May McAvoy was born September 18, 1901 in New York City. She began her career at the age of 15, when she dropped out of school to begin modeling and acting. In 1917, she made her debut in the film Hate. She then appeared in several other films, including To Hell with the Kaiser! (1918) and The Truth about Husbands (1920). Her work in Sentimental Tommy (1921) led to her being offered an exclusive contract with Paramount Pictures, where she appeared in many successful films, including A Private Scandal (1921), Morals (1921), and Clarence (1922). In 1923, she bought out the remainder of her contract after refusing to appear scantily dressed in the Cecil B. DeMille production Adam's Rib. That same year, she was chosen to be queen of the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, CA. As a free-lance actress, McAvoy's success continued;. she was known for her beauty and talent, and she was very popular with audiences. During this time, she appeared in The Enchanted Cottage (1924), Lady Windemere's Fan (1925), and Ben Hur (1926). In 1927, McAvoy signed a new contract with Warner Brothers, which ultimately led to her appearing in The Jazz Singer (1927), often considered to be the first "talking picture." McAvoy continued to appear in sound pictures throughout the rest of the 1920s. She retired from film making in 1929 after her marriage to United Artists executive, Maurice G. Cleary. In 1940, after her divorce from Cleary, she returned to acting and worked under contract with MGM into the late 1950s, when she retired for the second time. She continued to live in Los Angeles, CA until her death on April 26, 1984.
3.2 linear ft. (8 flat boxes.)
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