Agnes Ayres (born Agnes Eyre Henkel; April 4, 1898 – December 25, 1940) was an American actress who rose to fame during the silent film era. She was known for her role as Lady Diana Mayo in The Sheik opposite Rudolph Valentino.
Ayres circa 1920
Agnes Eyre Henkel
April 4, 1898
Carbondale, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 25, 1940 (aged 42)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Other names||Agnes Eyre|
|Spouse(s)||Captain Frank P. Schuker (1921–1921)|
S. Manuel Reachi (July 13, 1924 – June 10, 1927) 1 daughter
Ayres was born in Carbondale, Illinois, to Solon and Emma (née Slack) Henkel. She had an older brother, Solon William Henkel, who was a decade her senior. She began her career in 1914 when she was noticed by an Essanay Studios staff director and cast as an extra in a crowd scene.
After moving to Manhattan, New York City, with her mother to pursue a career in acting, Ayres was spotted by actress Alice Joyce. Joyce noticed the physical resemblance the two shared which eventually led to Ayres being cast in Richard the Brazen (1917), as Joyce's character's sister. Ayres' career began to gain momentum when Paramount Pictures founder Jesse Lasky began to take an interest in her. Lasky gave her a starring role in the Civil War drama Held by the Enemy (1920), and also lobbied for parts for her in several Cecil B. DeMille productions. It was during this time that Ayres married, and quickly divorced, Captain Frank P. Schuker, an army officer whom she had wed during World War I. She also began a romance with Lasky.
In 1921, Ayres shot to stardom when she was cast as Lady Diana Mayo, an English heiress opposite "Latin lover" Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik. Ayres later reprised her role as Lady Diana in the 1926 sequel Son of the Sheik. Following the release of The Sheik, she went on to have major roles in many other films including The Affairs of Anatol (1921) starring Wallace Reid, Forbidden Fruit (1921), and Cecil B. DeMille's epic The Ten Commandments (1923).
By 1923, Ayres' career began to wane following the end of her relationship with Jesse Lasky. She married Mexican diplomat S. Manuel Reachi in 1924. The couple had a daughter before divorcing in 1927.
In 1929, Ayres lost her fortune and real estate holdings in the Wall Street Crash of 1929. That same year, she also appeared in her last major role in The Donovan Affair, starring Jack Holt. To earn money, she left acting and played the vaudeville circuit. She returned to acting in 1936, confident that she could make a comeback. Unable to secure starring roles and somewhat overweight, Ayres appeared in mostly uncredited bit parts and finally retired from acting for good in 1937.
She died from a cerebral hemorrhage on Christmas Day, December 25, 1940, at her home in Hollywood, California, at the age of 42; she had been ill for several weeks. She is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
|1914||The Masked Wrestler||Uncredited|
|1915||His New Job||Extra, Secretary||Alternative title: Charlie's New Job|
|1917||Motherhood||The Mother||Credited as Agnes Eyre, lost film|
|1917||The Debt||Countess Ann||Credited as Agnes Eyre, lost film|
|1917||Mrs. Balfame||Alys Crumley||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|1917||Hedda Gabler||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|1917||The Mirror||undetermined||Credited as Agnes Eyre, lost film|
|1917||The Dazzling Miss Davison||Lillian, Miss Davison's sister||Credited as Agnes Eyre, lost film|
|1917||The Defeat of the City||Alicia Van Der Pool||Credited as Agnes Eyre|
|1918||The Purple Dress||Maida|
|1918||The Enchanted Profile||Ida Bates|
|1918||Sisters of the Golden Circle||Mrs. James Williams|
|1918||One Thousand Dollars||Margarett Hayden|
|1919||The Girl Problem||Helen Reeves|
|1919||A Stitch in Time||Lela Trevor|
|1919||In Honor's Web||Carson|
|1919||The Gamblers||Isabel Merson|
|1920||A Modern Salome||Helen Torrence||Lost film|
|1920||The Inner Voice||Barbara|
|1920||Go and Get It||Helen Allen|
|1920||Held by the Enemy||Rachel Hayne||Lost film|
|1921||The Love Special||Laura Gage|
|1921||Too Much Speed||Virginia MacMurran||Unknown/presumably lost|
|1921||Cappy Ricks||Florrie Ricks||Incomplete film|
|1921||The Affairs of Anatol||Annie Elliott|
|1921||The Sheik||Lady Diana Mayo|
|1922||The Lane That Had No Turning||Madelinette||Lost film|
|1922||Bought and Paid For||Virginia Blaine||Lost film|
|1922||The Ordeal||Sybil Bruce||Lost film|
|1922||A Daughter of Luxury||Mary Fenton|
|1922||Clarence||Violet Pinney||Lost film|
|1923||The Heart Raider||Muriel Gray (a speed girl)|
|1923||Racing Hearts||Virginia Kent||Lost film|
|1923||The Ten Commandments (1923 film)||The Outcast|
|1923||The Marriage Maker||Alexandra Vancy||Lost film|
|1923||Don't Call It Love||Alice Meldrum|
|1924||When a Girl Loves||Sasha Boroff|
|1924||The Guilty One||Irene Short|
|1924||The Story Without a Name||Mary Walsworth||Lost film|
|1925||Tomorrow's Love||Judith Stanley|
|1925||Her Market Value||Nancy Dumont|
|1925||The Awful Truth||Lucy Satterlee|
|1925||Morals for Men||Bessie Hayes|
|1926||The Son of the Sheik||Lady Diana|
|1927||Eve's Love Letters||The Wife|
|1928||Into the Night||Billie Mardon|
|1929||The Donovan Affair||Lydia Rankin|
|1936||Small Town Girl||Catherine||Uncredited|
|1937||Maid of Salem||Bit Part||Uncredited|
|1937||Midnight Taxi||Society woman||Uncredited|
|1937||Souls at Sea||Bit Role||Uncredited|
|1937||Morning Judge||Mrs. Kennedy|
Bluff is a 1924 American drama silent film directed by Sam Wood and written by Willis Goldbeck, Josephine Quirk and Rita Weiman. The film stars Agnes Ayres, Antonio Moreno, Fred J. Butler, Clarence Burton, Pauline Paquette and Jack Gardner. The film was released on May 12, 1924, by Paramount Pictures.Borderland (1922 film)
Borderland is a 1922 American silent drama film directed by Paul Powell and written by Beulah Marie Dix. The film stars Agnes Ayres, Milton Sills, Fred Huntley, Bertram Grassby, Casson Ferguson, Ruby Lafayette, and Sylvia Ashton. The film was released on July 20, 1922, by Paramount Pictures. It is not known whether the film currently survives.Bought and Paid For
Bought and Paid For is a lost 1922 American silent drama film produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by William C. deMille and starred Agnes Ayres. It is based on a play by George Broadhurst performed on Broadway in 1911 with Julia Dean and revived 1921 respectively. The play was filmed before in 1916 by the World Film Company with Alice Brady in the lead role.Cappy Ricks
Cappy Ricks is a 1921 American silent adventure film directed by Tom Forman and written by Peter B. Kyne, Albert S. Le Vino, Edward E. Rose, and Waldemar Young. The film stars Thomas Meighan, Charles S. Abbe, Agnes Ayres, Hugh Cameron, John St. Polis, Paul Everton and Eugenie Woodward. The film was released on August 21, 1921, by Paramount Pictures.Don't Call It Love (film)
Don't Call It Love is a 1923 American comedy silent film directed by William C. deMille and written by Clara Beranger, Hubert Osborne and Julian Street. The film stars Agnes Ayres, Jack Holt, Nita Naldi, Theodore Kosloff, Rod La Rocque and Robert Edeson. The film was released on December 24, 1923, by Paramount Pictures.Go and Get It
Go and Get It is a 1920 American silent comedy-drama mystery film directed by Marshall Neilan and Henry Roberts Symonds and written by Marion Fairfax. The film stars Pat O'Malley, Wesley Barry, Noah Beery Sr. and Agnes Ayres. The cinematographer was David Kesson. The film was released on July 18, 1920 by First National Exhibitors' Circuit.Actor Bull Montana (a former professional wrestler) played Ferry, the Ape Creature, in the film. He later went on to play the ape-man in the 1925 Willis H. O'Brien classic The Lost World, which strangely was also written by Marion Fairfax and starred Noah Beery's actor brother Wallace Beery.Held by the Enemy (film)
Held by the Enemy is a lost 1920 American silent Civil War melodrama film directed by Donald Crisp and based on the 1886 play by William Gillette. The film starred Agnes Ayres, Lewis Stone, and Jack Holt. It was produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures.Her Market Value
Her Market Value is a 1925 American silent melodrama film directed by Paul Powell and starring Agnes Ayres. Powell produced the picture and distributed through Producers Distributing Corporation. This feature is extant at UCLA Film and Television Archive.Morals for Men
Morals for Men is a 1925 American silent drama film directed by Bernard H. Hyman and starring Conway Tearle, Agnes Ayres and Alyce Mills.Sacred Silence (1919 film)
Sacred Silence is a 1919 American silent drama film directed by Harry F. Millarde and starring William Russell and Agnes Ayres.The Awful Truth (1925 film)
The Awful Truth is a 1925 silent film drama released by Producers Distributing Corporation. It is based on a 1922 play, The Awful Truth, by Arthur Richman. Agnes Ayres stars in this silent film version of the play.
According to IMDb.com this film survives in the UCLA Film & Television Archive.The Heart Raider
The Heart Raider is a 1923 silent film romantic comedy produced by Famous Players-Lasky and released by Paramount Pictures. It is based on an original story for the screen and was directed by Wesley Ruggles and starred Agnes Ayres and Mahlon Hamilton. A Czech release print survives at George Eastman House, Rochester New York.Brothers, Charles Ruggles and Wesley Ruggles in a rare occasion work here on the same film. Future torch singer Helen Morgan has an uncredited extra part.The Love Special
The Love Special is a surviving 1921 American silent drama film directed by Frank Urson and written by Eugene B. Lewis and Frank H. Spearman. The film stars Wallace Reid, Agnes Ayres, Theodore Roberts, Lloyd Whitlock, Sylvia Ashton, and William Gaden. The film was released on March 20, 1921, by Paramount Pictures.The Ordeal (film)
The Ordeal is a lost 1922 American silent drama film directed by Paul Powell and written by Beulah Marie Dix and W. Somerset Maugham. The film stars Clarence Burton, Agnes Ayres, Conrad Nagel, Edna Murphy, Anne Schaefer, Gino Corrado, and Adele Farrington. The film was released on May 21, 1922, by Paramount Pictures.The Sheik (film)
The Sheik is a 1921 American silent romantic drama film produced by Famous Players-Lasky, directed by George Melford, starring Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres, and featuring Adolphe Menjou. It was based on the bestselling romance novel of the same name by Edith Maude Hull and was adapted for the screen by Monte M. Katterjohn. The film was a box-office hit and helped propel Valentino to stardom.In the sequel The Son of the Sheik, Valentino played both the Sheik and his son, while Ayres reprised her role.The Story Without a Name
The Story Without a Name is a 1924 silent film melodrama directed by Irvin Willat and based on a novel by Arthur Stringer. It was produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The film stars Agnes Ayres. Also known as Without Warning. This film is lost.A 1952 film noir with the title Without Warning! had a working title of "The Story Without a Name" but the plots of the two are quite different.Tomorrow's Love
Tomorrow's Love is a 1925 American comedy silent film directed by Paul Bern, written by Charles Brackett and Howard Higgin, and starring Agnes Ayres, Patrick H. O'Malley, Jr., Raymond Hatton, Jane Winton, Ruby Lafayette and Dale Fuller. It was released on January 5, 1925, by Paramount Pictures.Too Much Speed
Too Much Speed is a 1921 American silent drama film directed by Frank Urson, written by Byron Morgan, and starring Wallace Reid, Agnes Ayres, Theodore Roberts, Jack Richardson, Lucien Littlefield, and Guy Oliver. It was released on June 5, 1921, by Paramount Pictures. It is not known whether the film currently survives.Worldly Goods
Worldly Goods is a 1924 American comedy silent film directed by Paul Bern and written by Sophie Kerr and A. P. Younger. The film stars Agnes Ayres, Patrick H. O'Malley, Jr., Victor Varconi, Edythe Chapman, Bert Woodruff, Maude George and Cecille Evans. The film was released on November 24, 1924, by Paramount Pictures.