skip navigation
Jeanne Eagels

Jeanne Eagels

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

The Letter DVD Adulteress Leslie Crosbie fires a bullet into her lover then, for good measure,... more info $12.99was $19.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Jeannine Eagels, Jeanne Eagels Died: October 3, 2029
Born: June 26, 1890 Cause of Death: heroin overdose
Birth Place: Kansas City, Missouri Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A legendary stage actress of the 1920s--blonde, lovely, mercurial, self-destructive--Jeanne Eagels made only a few films, and only a couple of the last ones are known to survive. Even these are not readily available for viewing, but when these full-bodied melodramas are shown at archives or museums, they do give a highly vivid impression of what all the shouting was about. Eagels began appearing on the stage at the age of seven. Her early days were rough financially, personally and professionally; the stuff of both melodrama and her genius, her story was later told by so many hands that conflicts remain as to what was true and what is mere legend. At the age of 25, Eagels began acting in films; she made five that are known of between 1915 and 1918, with titles like "The House of Fear" (1915), "The Fires of Youth" (1917) and "The Cross Bearer" (1918). She hit it big later, though, on Broadway, with her best-remembered stage role, that of sultry prostitute Sadie Thompson in an acclaimed production of Somerset Maugham's steamy tale of hypocrisy and redemption in the tropics, "Rain". Brought back to films, Eagels co-starred with--and out-acted--silent matinee idol John Gilbert in a very potent...

A legendary stage actress of the 1920s--blonde, lovely, mercurial, self-destructive--Jeanne Eagels made only a few films, and only a couple of the last ones are known to survive. Even these are not readily available for viewing, but when these full-bodied melodramas are shown at archives or museums, they do give a highly vivid impression of what all the shouting was about. Eagels began appearing on the stage at the age of seven. Her early days were rough financially, personally and professionally; the stuff of both melodrama and her genius, her story was later told by so many hands that conflicts remain as to what was true and what is mere legend. At the age of 25, Eagels began acting in films; she made five that are known of between 1915 and 1918, with titles like "The House of Fear" (1915), "The Fires of Youth" (1917) and "The Cross Bearer" (1918). She hit it big later, though, on Broadway, with her best-remembered stage role, that of sultry prostitute Sadie Thompson in an acclaimed production of Somerset Maugham's steamy tale of hypocrisy and redemption in the tropics, "Rain". Brought back to films, Eagels co-starred with--and out-acted--silent matinee idol John Gilbert in a very potent melodrama adeptly handled by stylish MGM house director Monta Bell, "Man, Woman and Sin" (1927). Given her growing stage fame, she did not return to films until talkies took over two years later. When Eagels did venture into talkies, it was in two torrid melodramas at Paramount for the rather obscure journeyman director Jean DeLimur. Her last film, "Jealousy" (1929), teaming her with Fredric March, was no great shakes. The other film, though, "The Letter" (1929), an adaptation of another Maugham tale of deception and hollow sexual and colonialist values, was more worthy of her. Although suffering from the staginess which infected most Hollywood product of that technically troubled time, this film centered squarely on Eagels. Her voice harsher and deeper than one expects, her brittle good looks already cracking under her addictions and personal problems, the sometimes theatrical but always riveting and often brilliant Eagels tore into her script with a vengeance. As Pauline Kael writes, "Those blessed with movie-loving parents may still retain images of Eagels' corrupt beauty, and of her frenzied big scene when the heroine tells off her husband." Eagels justly won an Oscar nomination for her efforts, but her career, already burning itself out, ended abruptly with her death from a heroin overdose at the age of 39. Her volatile persona instantly became the stuff of legend; Hollywood tried to cash in on it with a standardized biopic, "Jeanne Eagels" (1957), but Kim Novak in the title role, burdened by her script, suggested only a little of the original's vulnerability and less of her vibrant talent.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Letter (1929) Leslie Crosbie
2.
 Jealousy (1929) Yvonne
3.
 Man, Woman, and Sin (1927) Vera Worth
4.
 The Cross Bearer (1918) Liane de Merode
5.
 The Fires of Youth (1917) Billy's sister
6.
 Under False Colors (1917) "Countess Olga"
7.
 The World and the Woman (1916) The woman
8.
 The House of Fear (1915) Grace Cramp
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1897:
Stage acting debut; Eagels variously told people she debuted as Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or in a small role in "Hamlet"
1902:
Hired by the Woodward Stock Company in Kansas City
1907:
Made Broadway debut in "Jumping Jupiter"
:
Acted onstage with Julian Eltinge in "The Crinoline Girl" and in three plays with George Arliss
1915:
Film debut, "The House of Fear"
1916:
Appeared in films produced by Thanhouser
1918:
Last films for nine years, "Under False Colors" and "The Cross Bearer"
1926:
Returned to films to star opposite John Gilbert in "Man, Woman and Sin"
1929:
First sound film, "The Letter"; received Best Actress Oscar nomination
1929:
Last film, "Jealousy"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Some sources list Ms. Eagels' birthplace as Boston, Massachusetts

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Edward Harris Coy. Insurance salesman; former college football star. Married on August 26, 1925; divorced on June 14, 1928; died at age 47 in the 1930s.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Edward Eagels. Spanish; reportedly his original surname was Aguilar.
mother:
Julia Eagels. Irish.
sister:
Helen Eagels.
sister:
Mrs W K Ackerly.
brother:
George Eagels.
brother:
Paul Eagels.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute