Marguerite de la Motte was a successful silent film actress who died young.
Margaret Beatrice de la Motte was born on June 22, 1902 in Duluth, Minnesota. Margaret began dancing as a child and was taught by the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Her family moved to San Diego in 1913 after her father, a lawyer, was fired in Minnesota. She began her career as a dancer in Los Angeles and appeared on Sid Grauman’s Million Dollar Theater. In 1918 she was introduced to Douglas Fairbanks, who cast her in his film Arizona. She has worked with HB Warner on The Pagan God and with Jack Pickford on the comedy In Wrong. Tragically in December of 1919 her mother died after a car accident. Margaret, who was also in the car, sustained minor injuries, and only seven months later her father died of heart disease. Producer JL Frothingham took care of her and became her legal guardian. Douglas Fairbanks has cast her in several films including The Mark of Zorro and The Three Musketeers. Margaret became close friends with him and with his wife, Mary Pickford. She married actor John Powers in 1924. The pair were a popular on-screen team and together they made twelve films including Desire, Daughters Who Pay, and Richard the Lion-Hearted. In her spare time she loved to read and pay the piano. She was devastated when her best friend, actress Barbara La Mar, died in 1926.
Margaret became a successful leading lady and in 1927 signed a contract with Gotham Productions. Unfortunately, I had a hard time making the transition from silent films to audio films. During the 1930s, she appeared in only two films – A Woman’s Man and Shadow Ranch. She and her husband John began performing together in vaudeville. Their marriage was rocky and he had a serious drinking problem. The couple decided to separate but remained legally married. Unfortunately on November 17, 1936, John committed suicide by drowning himself in the ocean. A Star Is Born was loosely based on his suicide. Margaret married attorney Sydney H. Rifkin in 1939. Her last acting role was a minor part in the 1942 Western Overland Mail. Then I got a job as an inspector at a war factory in Southern California. In January of 1943, she filed for divorce from Sydney, claiming extreme mental cruelty. She said he “pissed off” about her friends and never liked the way she handled her hair. Margaret moved to San Francisco and began working for the Red Cross. On March 10, 1950 she died of a stroke at the age of 47. She is buried in Olivet Memorial Park in Colma, California.