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Carol Dempster


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Carol Dempster (December 9, 1901 - February 1, 1991) was an American film actress of the silent film era.


Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Dempster got her start in films as a protégé of legendary film director D.W. Griffith alongside other Griffith actresses of the mid-1910s Lillian and Dorothy Gish and Mae Marsh. Griffith gave Dempster her first role at age 15 in his colossal 1916 all-star cast Intolerance playing one of the Babylonian harem girls alongside another teenaged newcomer, Mildred Harris. Dempster would eventually become one of Griffiths "favorites" and cast her in nearly every one of his films throughout the 1920s, allegedly to the jealous irritation of Mae Marsh and Lillian Gish. Dempster became romantically involved with the much older Griffith during the early 1920s while Griffith was estranged from his wife, Linda Arvidson.

Dempster's first feature role came in 1919 in the Griffith directed The Girl Who Stayed at Home opposite Robert "Bobby" Harron. Dempster followed this with Griffith's The Love Flower (1920), Dream Street (1921), One Exciting Night (1922) and Isn't Life Wonderful (1924), the latter being generally considered one of Griffith's greatest films and featuring Dempster's finest performance.

Dempster had a notable career in films throughout the 1920s and appear opposite such notable actors as John Barrymore, Richard Barthelmess, William Powell, Ivor Novello, and W.C. Fields. Other memorable films of the period are America (1924) and Sally of the Sawdust (1925), also directed by Griffith.

In 1926 Dempster acted in her final film, another Griffith vehicle entitled The Sorrows of Satan co-starring with Adolphe Menjou, Ricardo Cortez, and the Hungarian vamp Lya De Putti. Dempster then retired from the screen to marry wealthy banker Edward S. Larson in 1929.

Her critical stock was never very high, as she became Griffith's leading lady after the more popular Lillian Gish had moved on. Her somewhat "ordinary" appearance and animated acting style were frequently criticized. Also, with a few exceptions, the films she appeared in were not among Griffith's more popular works. In recent years, however, viewers and critics alike have slowly begun to appreciate her performances.

Dempster died in La Jolla, California in 1991 at the age of 89 from heart failure and was laid to rest at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery in Glendale, California.
















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