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Martha Mansfield (1899-1923)

  1. Rosemary Hill, The Warrens of Virginia, 1923.    Not a lost role - lost status… Martha, the ex-Ziegfeld Follies dancer, became a shining silent movie queen, sharing (the first) Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with John Barrymore, no less, in 1919. The poor girl was resting in her car between scenes  on location in San Antonio, Texas, in November 1923, when someone accidentally flicked a lighted match through the car’s open window.  It landed on Martha’s inflammable Civil War era dress (all ruffles and hoop skirts). Instant inferno! Co-star Wifred Lytell managed to throw his overcoat over her head, but Martha died the next day from her burns. At 24.   The Fox Film Corporation suits added insult to injury by cutting her final role to zilch and increasing that of Hill, making her the sudden new leading lady.




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