Florence La Badie /ˈlɑːbɑːˌdiː/ (April 27, 1888 – October 13, 1917) was an American actress in the early days of the silent film era. Though little known today, she was a major star between 1911 and 1917. Her career was at its height when she died at age 29 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Florence La Badie
|Born||April 27, 1888|
New York City, US
|Died||October 13, 1917 (aged 29)|
Ossining, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Automobile accident|
Florence La Badie was one of the most important and popular actresses of the early motion picture era. She appeared in 30 films for Biograph starting in 1909 and 166 silent films from 1911 through 1917 for the Thanhouser studio in New Rochelle, New York. A daredevil at heart, she was known as "Fearless Flo" for taking risks and performed many of her own stunts. She was a frequent subject for articles and letters in fan and trade magazines, and over a period of years, she was the most publicized and beloved of all Thanhouser players.
Florence La Badie was born Florence Russ on April 27, 1888, the second child of Horace Blancard and Marie Lynch (Chester) Russ in New York City. After the death of her father in 1890 and the inability of her mother to provide care, Florence, at age three, was adopted by Joseph E. and Amanda J. La Badie of Montreal, Canada.
Florence's adoptive father, Joseph E. La Badie, was a prominent attorney in Montreal, and his wife, the former Amanda Victor, is said to have been born in Europe, possibly Paris. Her adoptive uncle, Oddiehon LaBadie, maintained an estate in nearby St. Lambert. Florence was educated in New York City schools and at the Convent of Notre Dame in Montreal.
Tragically, on October 13, 1917 at age 29, Florence succumbed to injuries suffered in an automobile accident on August 28, 1917, making her the first major "movie star" to die at the zenith of her popularity. The New York Times published an article the following day, Thursday October 18, 1917, reporting the throng of friends and fans attending her funeral. She was buried in an unmarked grave in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
While having been raised in Montreal, in a sworn deposition on October 8, 1917, a New York woman named Marie C. Russ claimed to be Florence's biological mother and referred to a Russ family burial plot in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, with lot number 17187 being reserved for Florence Russ, aka Florence La Badie. This legal deposition was dated five days before Florence's death.
Having completed her studies, she was offered work as a fashion model in New York City. Once there, in early 1908 she obtained a small part in a stage play. Following this, she signed to tour with one of the road companies and for the next two years appeared on stage in various places in the eastern part of the United States. During this period she met a fellow Canadian, the young actress Mary Pickford, who suggested she "try pictures"; and in 1909 she invited Florence to watch the making of a motion picture at the Biograph studio in Manhattan. Given an impromptu bit part, Florence was invited back to Biograph's studios to participate in another film later that year. She would go on to make several films under the renowned D. W. Griffith, with her first credited film being in the 1909 film The Politician's Love Story, starring Mack Sennett and Kathlyn Williams.
In 1911, her career took a leap when she was hired by Edwin Thanhouser of the Thanhouser Film Corporation in New Rochelle, New York. With her sophistication and beauty, Florence La Badie soon became Thanhouser's most prominent actress, appearing in dozens of films over the next two years. Her most remembered films of that period were The Tempest (1911), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912), a film adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson story, and the first film of Shakespeare's Cymbeline (1914). Her most well-known work was in the 1914 - 1915 serial, The Million Dollar Mystery. Athletic and daring, in these films she performed all her own stunts. In 1915, she was featured in the magazine Reel Life, which described her as "the Beautiful and talented Florence La Badie, of the Thanhouser Studios, conceded one of the foremost of American screen players". Over a course of six years La Badie's career had taken her to top-billing as a film actress.
When World War I broke out in Europe in 1914, Canada immediately joined the war, and as a result, several of Florence La Badie's young male friends and relatives back home in Montreal were immediately shipped overseas. She had many movie fans in Canada and according to one New York newspaper, in 1915 a young soldier fighting in the trenches at the Front in Northern France wrote to her, sending dozens of photographs that graphically depicted the horrors of the war. Deeply affected, La Badie became a vigorous advocate for peace, traveling the United States with a stereopticon slide show of the soldier's photographs, warning about the terrible dangers of going to war.
For a time, she was engaged to a Cadillac salesman named Val Hush. They broke up, and she became involved with Daniel Carson Goodman, a writer who worked on the scenario for Thanhouser's serial Zudora.
In August 1917, La Badie was at the height of her motion picture success. She had appeared in 185 films since 1909, 32 fewer than Mary Pickford's 217 films during the same period. Her film The Woman in White had just been released in July 1917. Her latest two films, The Man Without a Country, a film adaptation of Edward Everett Hale's The Man Without a Country, and War and the Woman, would also soon be released, both on September 9, 1917. Although the Thanhouser Corporation had been struggling since the 1914 automobile accident death of Charles J. Hite, her career was thriving and had been their saving grace. Less than a month earlier, she had announced that she was leaving Thanhouser, and she had several other film corporations willing to pick her up on contract immediately.
On August 28, 1917, while driving near Ossining, New York in the company of her fiance, Daniel Carson Goodman, the brakes on La Badie's car failed and the vehicle plunged down a hill, overturning at the bottom. While Goodman escaped with only a broken leg, La Badie was thrown from the vehicle and suffered serious injuries, including a compound fracture of the pelvis. Hospitalized, she clung to life for more than six weeks and seemed to be improving, but suddenly died on October 13, from septicemia. She thus became the first major female film star to die while her career was at its peak, and the movie-going public mourned her death. After a large funeral, she was interred in an unmarked grave in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, the same cemetery included by Marie C. Russ in her legal proceedings days before her death, with Marie Russ claiming to have been her actual birth mother in sworn deposition. Obituary notices stated La Badie was survived by her mother, Amanda La Badie, with no mention of her having been adopted. This omission would have been customary at the time. Due to her death, it is unknown what her prolonged impact in films would have been. Although little-remembered now, she was once a top-billed star. Under New York laws, the property of her estate was divided between Mr. and Mrs. Joseph La Badie.
In 2014, Ned Thanhouser, the grandson of Edwin Thanhouser, raised money for a proper headstone for La Badie, which was installed on April 27 of that year, on what would have been her 126th birthday.
Anna Rosemond (February 16, 1886 – 1966) was one of the earliest film actresses of the early silent film era.
Anna Miers Rosemond was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father was an Austrian immigrant, her mother a first generation American of German parentage.Aurora Floyd (film)
Aurora Floyd is a 1912 American silent short drama film directed by Theodore Marston based on the 1863 British novel of the same name by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. The film stars Florence La Badie in the title role, William Garwood, and Harry Benham. The film also stars Maude Fealy and David Thompson.Divorce and the Daughter
Divorce and the Daughter is a 1916 American silent drama film directed by Frederic Richard Sullivan. The film stars Florence La Badie, Edwin Stanley, Ethelmary Oakland and Kathryn Adams.Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912 film)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1912 horror film based on both Robert Louis Stevenson's novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) and on the play version (1887) of Thomas Russell Sullivan. Directed by Lucius Henderson, the film stars actor (later noted film director) James Cruze in the dual roles of Jekyll and Hyde.Her Gallant Knights
Her Gallant Knights is a 1913 American silent short romantic comedy film starring William Garwood, Riley Chamberlin, James Cruze, Florence La Badie and Frank Urson.List of American films of 1912
The list of American films of 1912 is a compilation of American films released in the year 1912.Petticoat Camp
Petticoat Camp is a 1912 American silent short comedy film starring William Garwood and Florence La Badie.Some Fools There Were
Some Fools There Were is a 1913 American silent short comedy film starring William Garwood, Riley Chamberlin, Jean Darnell, Florence La Badie, and William Russell.The Baseball Bug
The Baseball Bug is a 1911 silent film comedy short produced by the Thanhouser Company. It starred John W. Noble and Florence La Badie. It also featured real-life baseball playersChief Bender Jack Coombs, Cy Morgan and Rube Oldring.The Buddhist Priestess
The Buddhist Priestess is a 1911 American silent short romantic drama film. The film starred William Garwood, Marguerite Snow as The Buddhist Priestess, Marie Eline and Florence La Badie.The Country Girl (1915 film)
The Country Girl is a 1915 American short silent romantic comedy-drama film starring Florence La Badie and directed by Frederic Richard Sullivan. The film is based on David Garrick's 1766 play The Country Girl.The Man Without a Country (1917 film)
The Man Without a Country is a 1917 American silent film adaptation of Edward Everett Hale's short story The Man Without a Country. It was directed by Ernest C. Warde, and starred Florence La Badie, Holmes Herbert, and J. H. Gilmour, and released by Thanhouser Film Corporation.The film follows closely to the storyline of the book, and was a success in film theaters. The original story, with its strong patriotic theme, was written during the American Civil War in order to increase public support for the Union cause. The film had a like function with regard to the First World War, which the United States had joined a few months prior to the film's release.
The film was released on September 9, 1917, and was the last film role of Florence La Badie, who would die in October 1917 from injuries sustained in an automobile crash in August 1917, just days before the film's premiere.The Million Dollar Mystery
The Million Dollar Mystery is a 23-chapter film serial released in 1914, directed by Howell Hansel, and starring Florence La Badie and James Cruze. It is presumed lost.The Smuggler (1911 film)
The Smuggler is a 1911 American silent short romantic drama. The film starred William Garwood Florence La Badie and Harry Benham.The Star of Bethlehem (1912 film)
The Star of Bethlehem is a 1912 American silent produced by Edwin Thanhouser and Charles J. Hite, and featuring Florence La Badie, James Cruze, and William Russell. The film is a retelling of Biblical events preceding the Nativity of Jesus. Directed by Lawrence Marston, the entire film is staged as brief tableaux. With much of the original lost (only 15 minutes survive), the existing footage can be difficult to interpret as a coherent whole.The Tempest (1911 film)
The Tempest (1911) is an American one-reel silent film adaptation of the William Shakespeare play The Tempest. It was directed by Edwin Thanhouser, and starred Ed Genung as Ferdinand and Florence La Badie as Miranda, and released by Thanhouser Film Corporation. One of the earliest film adaptations of the play, it was released on November 28, 1911.The Voice of Conscience (1912 film)
The Voice of Conscience is a 1912 American silent short drama film starring Florence La Badie and Jean Darnell.The Woman in White (1917 film)
The Woman in White is a 1917 American drama film that was directed by Ernest C. Warde. It comprises five reels of 4,627 feet and had its premiere on July 1, 1917. Length: 1 hour 8 minutes. The film was originally distributed by Pathé. In the 1920s it was re-released under the title The Unfortunate Marriage.The Woman in White (1929 film)
The Woman in White is a 1929 British silent mystery film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Blanche Sweet, Haddon Mason and Cecil Humphreys. The film was made at Cricklewood Studios in London. It is based on the novel The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.
Several silent versions were made, one in 1912 and one by Fox in 1917 as Tangled Lives. Another 1917 silent version was filmed by Thanhouser and starred Florence La Badie. It survives in the Library of Congress. It was also remade in 1948.
The film's art direction was by Clifford Pember.