Mabel Normand: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mabel Normand
Born Mabel Ethelreid Normand
November 9, 1892(1892-11-09)
New Brighton, Staten Island, U.S.
Died February 23, 1930 (aged 37)
Monrovia, California, U.S.
Other name(s) Mabel Normand-Cody
Occupation Actress/Comedienne
Years active 1910–1927
Spouse(s) Lew Cody (1926–1930)

Mabel Normand (November 9, 1892? – February 23, 1930) was an American silent film comedienne and actress. She was a popular star of Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios[1] and is noted as one of the film industry's first female screenwriters, producers and directors.[2] Onscreen she co-starred in commercially successful films with Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe Arbuckle, occasionally writing and directing movies featuring Chaplin.[3] At the height of her career in the late 1910s and early 1920s, Normand had her own movie studio and production company.

Throughout the 1920s her name was linked with widely publicized scandals including the 1922 murder of William Desmond Taylor and the 1924 shooting of Courtland S. Dines, who was shot by Normand's chauffeur with her pistol. She was not a suspect in either crime. Her film career declined, possibly due to both scandal and a recurrence of tuberculosis in 1923, which led to a decline in her health, retirement from films and her death in 1930.[4][5]


Early life and career

Born Mabel Ethelreid Normand in New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, she grew up in extreme poverty. Her father, Claude Normand, was sporadically employed as a carpenter at Sailors' Snug Harbor home for elderly seamen. Before she entered films at age 16 in 1909, Normand worked as an artist's model, which included posing for postcards illustrated by Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl image. She met director Mack Sennett whilst at D. W. Griffith's Biograph Company and embarked on a tumultuous affair with him; he later brought her across when he founded Keystone Studios in 1912. Her first films portrayed her as a bathing beauty, but Normand quickly demonstrated a flair for comedy and became a star of Sennett's short films. Normand appeared with Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe ("Fatty") Arbuckle in many short films.

In 1914 she starred with Chaplin and Marie Dressler in Tillie's Punctured Romance. In 1918, as her relationship with Sennett came to an end, Normand signed a $3,500 a week contract with Samuel Goldwyn and opened a film studio in Culver City. Her breakup with Sennett seems to have caused Normand to re-evaluate her life and she embarked on a program of self-education, developing keen and lasting interests in reading and books.


Autographed photo of Mabel Normand by Fred Hartsook (1876-1930), taken circa 1918.

Director William Desmond Taylor shared her interest in books and the two formed a close friendship. He was murdered in 1922 only minutes after Normand had left his home. She was closely scrutinized by police but never considered a serious suspect.[6] Newspapers speculated wildly about Normand given reports of her drug use along with her many past appearances in films with Roscoe Arbuckle, who had also recently become enmeshed in scandal.

In 1924 her chauffeur Joe Kelly shot and wounded millionaire oil broker and amateur golfer Courtland S. Dines with her pistol.[7][8] At the time Dines was romantically involved with Normand's friend (and frequent Chaplin co-star) Edna Purviance.

Later career and death

She continued making films and was signed by Hal Roach Studios in 1926 after discussions with director/producer F. Richard Jones, who had directed her at Keystone. At Roach she made the film Raggedy Rose plus four others which were released with publicity support from the Hollywood community (including her friend Mary Pickford).

In 1926 she married actor Lew Cody with whom she had appeared in Mickey in 1918.[9] They lived separately in nearby houses in Beverly Hills before Cody moved in with her. However, Normand's health was in decline. After an extended stay in a sanitarium she died from tuberculosis in Monrovia, California at the age of 37.[10] She was interred as Mabel Normand-Cody at Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles.

Mabel Normand has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to Motion Pictures, at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.

Her film Mabel's Blunder (1914) was added to the National Film Registry in December 2009.[11]


  • Say anything you like, but don't say I love to work. That sounds like Mary Pickford, the prissy bitch.[12]

Cultural references

  • A nod to Normand's celebrity in early Hollywood came through the name of a leading character in the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, "Norma Desmond", which has been cited as a combination of the names Mabel Normand and William Desmond Taylor.[13][14]
  • The 1974 Broadway musical Mack & Mabel (Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman) fictionalized the romance between Normand and Mack Sennett. Normand was played by Bernadette Peters and Robert Preston played Mack Sennett.
  • Stevie Nicks wrote a song called "Mabel Normand". It was never officially released and exists in demo form.
  • Normand is played by actress Morganne Picard in the motion picture Return to Babylon (2008), by Marisa Tomei in the 1992 film Chaplin, and more recently by Penelope Lagos in the first bio-pic about her life appropriately titled Madcap Mabel (2010).

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1910 Indiscretions of Betty
1911 Her Awakening The Daughter
Why He Gave Up The Wife
1912 The Water Nymph Diving Venus Alternative title: The Beach Flirt
The Flirting Husband
Mabel's Lovers Mabel
At Coney Island Alternative title: Cohen at Coney Island
Mabel's Adventures Mabel
1913 The Bangville Police Farm Girl
A Little Hero
Mabel's Awful Mistakes Alternative title: Her Deceitful Lover
Passions, He Had Three Alternative title: He Had Three
For the Love of Mabel
Mabel's Dramatic Career Mabel, the kitchen maid Alternative title: Her Dramatic Debut
The Gypsy Queen
Cohen Saves the Flag Rebecca
1914 Mabel's Stormy Love Affair
In the Clutches of the Gang
Mack at It Again
Mabel's Strange Predicament Mabel Alternative title: Hotel Mixup
Mabel's Blunder Mabel Director
Added to the National Film Registry in 2009 [15]
A Film Johnnie Mabel
Mabel at the Wheel Mabel Director
Caught in a Cabaret Mabel Director, writer
Mabel's Nerve Mabel
The Alarm Alternative title: Fireman's Picnic
Her Friend the Bandit Mabel Director
Mabel's Busy Day Mabel Director, writer
Mabel's Married Life Mabel Writer
Mabel's New Job Writer
The Sky Pirate
The Masquerader Actress Uncredited
Mabel's Latest Prank Mabel Alternative title: Touch of Rheumatism
Hello, Mabel Mabel Director
Alternative title: On a Busy Wire
Gentlemen of Nerve Mabel Alternative titles: Charlie at the Races
Some Nerve
His Trysting Place Mabel, The Wife
Shotguns That Kick
Getting Acquainted Ambrose's Wife
1915 Mabel and Fatty's Wash Day Mabel
Mabel and Fatty's Simple Life Mabel Alternative title: Mabel and Fatty's Simple Life
Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco Mabel Director
Mabel and Fatty's Married Life Mabel
That Little Band of Gold Wifey Uncredited
Alternative title: For Better or Worse
Wished on Mabel Mabel
Mabel's Wilful Way Mabel Uncredited
Mabel Lost and Won
The Little Teacher The Little Teacher Alternative title: A Small Town Bully
1916 Fatty and Mabel Adrift Mabel Alternative title: Concrete Biscuits
He Did and He Didn't The Doctor's Wife
1918 The Venus Model Kitty O'Brien
A Perfect 36 Mabel
1919 Jinx The Jinx
1921 Molly O Molly O'
1922 Head Over Heels Tina
Oh, Mabel Behave Innkeeper's Daughter
1923 Suzanna Suzanna
The Extra Girl Sue Graham
1926 Raggedy Rose Raggedy Rose
The Nickel-Hopper Paddy, the nickel hopper
1927 Should Men Walk Home? The Girl Bandit
One Hour Married


  1. ^ Harper Fussell, Betty (1982). Mabel: Hollywood's First I Don't Care Girl. Limelight Edition. pp. 50–52. ISBN 0-879-10158-X. 
  2. ^ Harper Fussell, Betty (1982). Mabel: Hollywood's First I Don't Care Girl. Limelight Edition. pp. 71–73. ISBN 0-879-10158-X. 
  3. ^ Harper Fussell, Betty (1982). Mabel: Hollywood's First I Don't Care Girl. Limelight Edition. pp. 64–70. ISBN 0-879-10158-X. 
  4. ^ cite magazine article Films In Review September 1974 Mabel Normand A grand Nephew's Memoir Normand, Stephen
  5. ^ Ward Mahar, Karen (2006). Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood. JHU Press. pp. 131. ISBN 0-801-88436-5. 
  6. ^ "Press Film Star For Taylor Clew; Police Conduct 'Long And Grueling' Examination, Working On Jealousy Motive. Mabel Normand Speaks Tells Reporters Affection For Slain Director Was Based On Comradeship, Not 'Love'.". The New York Times. February 7, 1922, Tuesday. "A motion picture actress was subjected to what the police termed a "long and grueling" examination at her home here tonight in an attempt to obtain a clew to the murderer of William Desmond Taylor." 
  7. ^ Milton, Joyce (1998). Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin. Da Capo Press. pp. 221. ISBN 0-306-80831-5. 
  8. ^ Basinger, Jeanine (2000). Silent Stars. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 92. ISBN 0-819-56451-6. 
  9. ^ McCaffrey, Donald W.; Jacobs, Christopher P. (1999). Guide To the Silent Years of American Cinema. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 84. ISBN 0-313-30345-2. 
  10. ^ Vogel, Michelle (2007). Olive Thomas: The Life and Death of a Silent Film Beauty. McFarland. pp. 9. ISBN 0-786-42908-9. 
  11. ^ "Thriller and 24 Other Films Named to National Film Registry", Associated Press via Yahoo News (December 30, 2009)
  12. ^, Mabel Normand Quotes, retrieved 24 December 2007
  13. ^ "Taylorology" (about William D. Taylor & era), (, September 2003, webpage: LitWeb-WDTaylor.
  14. ^ Staggs, Sam: Close-up on Sunset Boulevard: Billy Wilder, Norma Desmond and the Dark Hollywood Dream. St. Martin's Griffin Books, 2002
  15. ^ "Thriller and 24 Other Films Named to National Film Registry", Associated Press via Yahoo News (December 30, 2009)

Further reading

  • Jeanine Basinger (1999), chapter on Normand in Silent Stars, (ISBN 0-8195-6451-6).
  • Betty Harper Fussell (1982), Mabel: Hollywood's First I-Don't-Care Girl, (ISBN 0-87910-158-X).
  • William Thomas Sherman (2006), Mabel Normand: A Source Book to Her Life and Films

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address