It was a win in a Mardis Gras beauty contest in New Orleans that sealed the fate for Corinne Griffith’s star career. Following her success, she became a popular society girl. It was during one of the society parties that Vitagraph director Rolin Sturgeon first spotted her. He offered her a movie contract which she couldn’t refuse. Although her parents were reluctant at first, they finally gave their consent, and her mother accompanied her to California.
In 1916, Griffith began her film career as an actor at the Vitagraph Studios. Her initial films were usually two-reelers. However, her talent soon earned her leading lady roles in big films with established star cast. Early on in her career, Griffith worked with the likes of Earle Williams and Harry Morey.
In 1917, Vitagraph moved her to New York after a year in California. By 1918, Griffith had earned herself a reputation of an established actor. She became the featured star of her own movies. Same year, her film, ‘The Girl of Today’, was released.
While shooting for ‘The Girl of Today’ Griffith fell ill. Adhering to the demands of the script, Griffith shot on the extremely cold temperatures. Since it was her first experience of cold weather, Griffith managed but only for a few days after which she collapsed. She returned to face the camera after a long duration.
Her alliance with Vitagraph lasted until 1922. In these six years, Griffith acted in around 35 features. In 1923, she acted in a feature for Goldwyn and Selznick each, before getting into an agreement with First National Pictures.
Griffith’s association with First National Pictures lasted for seven years, from 1923 to 1930. She made a total of 19 features during this time period for the company, ‘The Garden of Eden’, released in 1928, was the only exception in the list; she did it for the United Artists.
In 1929, Griffith starred in the movie, ‘The Divine Lady’. It was an American Vitaphone sound film with synchronized musical score and sound effects but no spoken dialogue. A historical drama, the movie revolved around the characters of
Lady Emma Hamilton and Admiral Nelson. It was a major hit with the audience. Griffith’s stellar performance won her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
By 1930, Hollywood had made a successful transition to talkies from its era of silent films. Same year, Griffith starred in her first ever talkie, ‘Lilies of the Field’. Much against the anticipation, the film bombed at the box office and Griffith was criticized for her voice that sounded as if she talked through nose.
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Following the box-office dud ‘Lilies of the Field’, Griffith starred in yet another talkie, ‘Back Pay’ which eventually became her last Hollywood project. The movie did nothing to revive her career and like its predecessor it too failed at the box office.
Year 1932 marked the end of Griffith’s career essentially. She featured in her last film, an English flick for Paramount-British, titled ‘Lily Christine’, before eventually retiring from acting.
In 1962, Griffith made an exception and returned to the screen for a low-budget melodrama ‘Paradise Alley’. It was a remake of the 1950s film, ‘Stars in Your Own Backyard’. The movie wasn’t widely released.
Following her retirement from films in the early 1930s, Griffith acted for theatre. She was cast in Noël Coward’s play ‘Design for Living’. Furthermore, she was a member of the American Newspaper Women Club in Washington, DC.
In 1950, she joined the American Society of Composers and Publishers, collaborating musically with Barnee Breeskin. Some of her song compositions include ‘Hail to the Redskins’, ‘Chanson du Bal’ and ‘October’.
Apart from starring in films and theatre, Griffith also donned the hat of a writer. Post marriage, she began her writing career, penning out articles every week for the Saturday Evening Post about her experiences as a baseball fan. Eventually, these articles were expanded into a book titled, ‘My Life with the Redskins’.
Following the success of ‘My Life with the Redskins’, Griffith authored several more books including ‘Papa's Delicate Condition’ in 1952, ‘Eggs I Have Known’ in 1955, ‘Hollywood Stories’ in 1962, ‘This You Won't Believe’ in 1972 and ‘I'm Lucky - At Cards’ in 1974. In 1963, ‘Papa's Delicate Condition’ was adapted into a motion picture with Jackie Gleason in the lead role.
Griffith did not keep her career limited to films, theatre and writing alone. She ventured into real estate, and proved to be a shrewd businesswoman. Her deals and ventures made her one of the wealthiest women in the world at the time of her death.
During late 1950s, Griffith served as the chairman of The Committee for Honoring Motion Picture Stars. The committee sponsored bronze statuary to be erected in Beverly Hills honouring some of the community's most famous residents including Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Tom Mix, Will Rogers and so on.
Personal Life & Legacy
Griffith’s first marriage was to Webster Campbell in 1920. The couple separated after three years following which she married Walter Morosco in 1924. This unison lasted for about a decade after which the duo parted ways.
In 1936, Griffith tied the nuptial knot with Boston Braves owner, George Marshall. They divorced in 1958.
In 1965, she married Dan Scholl. He was thirty-three years her junior. While some report him as a realtor, others claim him to be a Broadway actor. The marriage dissolved merely six weeks later.
Griffith spent the last years of her life in her Beverly Hills mansion. Griffith breathed her last on July 13, 1979, leaving an estate of $150 million. At the time of her death, she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.