Esther Ralston


Actor

About

Also Known As
Esther Louise Ralston
Birth Place
Bar Harbor, Maine, USA
Born
September 17, 1902
Died
January 14, 1994
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

Biography

Likable blonde silent screen actress, dubbed "the American Venus" by Florenz Ziegfeld after she starred as an aspiring Miss America contestant in a 1926 film of that name. Practically raised onstage by a family of vaudevillians, Ralston began in bit parts in films as a teenager, and worked primarily with Paramount and MGM during the 1920s. Ralston's films often found her playing wholesom...

Photos & Videos

Sadie McKee - Publicity Stills
Esther Ralston - Publicity Stills
Esther Ralston - movie stills
Esther Ralston - Cigarette Card

Bibliography

"Some Day We'll Laugh: An Autobiography"
Esther Ralston, Scarecrow Press (1985)

Biography

Likable blonde silent screen actress, dubbed "the American Venus" by Florenz Ziegfeld after she starred as an aspiring Miss America contestant in a 1926 film of that name. Practically raised onstage by a family of vaudevillians, Ralston began in bit parts in films as a teenager, and worked primarily with Paramount and MGM during the 1920s. Ralston's films often found her playing wholesome, glamorous yet playful roles and include a charming version of "Peter Pan" (1925) in which she played Mrs. Darling in support of star Betty Bronson, the lively comedy "Beggar on Horseback" (1925), "Half a Bride" (1928), in which she played opposite Gary Cooper, and "The Case of Lena Smith" (1929) directed by the formidable Joseph von Sternberg.

At one point in the mid-1920s Ralston was one of Hollywood's highest-paid stars, but her career gradually petered out with the coming of sound. She did, however, play intermittent supporting roles (as in the highly enjoyable mystery "Mr. Dynamite" 1935) until the early 1940s. Ralston later worked as an executive at a talent agency and for an electric company, and did occasional TV work (e.g. a leading role as the mother of "Our Five Daughters" 1962). Ralston was one of the founding members of the Screen Actors Guild and in her later years proved a very lively interviewee on TV specials and documentaries on the past glories of American film.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

San Francisco Docks (1941)
Frances [Claire] March
Tin Pan Alley (1940)
Nora Bayes
Letter of Introduction (1938)
Slander House (1938)
Ruth De Milo
The Mysterious Pilot (1938)
As Good As Married (1937)
Lila Danforth
Shadows of the Orient (1937)
Viola Avery
Jungle Menace (1937)
The Girl from Mandalay (1936)
Mary Trevor
Reunion (1936)
Janet Fair
Hollywood Boulevard (1936)
Flora Moore, an actress
The Rest Cure (1936)
Mrs. Louise Rillette
Together We Live (1935)
Jenny Kavanaugh
Ladies Crave Excitement (1935)
Miss Winkler
Mister Dynamite (1935)
Charmian Dvorjak
Forced Landing (1935)
Ruby Anatole
Streamline Express (1935)
Elaine Vinson
Strange Wives (1934)
Olga
Romance in the Rain (1934)
Gwen de la Rue
Sadie McKee (1934)
Dolly [Merrick]
The Marines Are Coming (1934)
Dorothy Manning
Black Beauty (1933)
Leila Lambert
By Candlelight (1933)
Baroness Louise von Ballin
Rome Express (1933)
To the Last Man (1933)
Ellen Colby
After the Ball (1933)
Elissa Strange
Lonely Wives (1931)
Madeline Smith
The Prodigal (1931)
Antonia [Farraday]
The Mighty (1929)
Louise Patterson
The Wheel of Life (1929)
Ruth Dangan
Betrayal (1929)
Vroni, his wife
The Case of Lena Smith (1929)
Lena Smith
The Sawdust Paradise (1928)
Hallie
Something Always Happens (1928)
Diana
Half a Bride (1928)
Patience Winslow
Love and Learn (1928)
Nancy Blair
Ten Modern Commandments (1927)
Kitten O'Day
The Spotlight (1927)
Lizzie Stokes/Olga Rostova
Children of Divorce (1927)
Jean Waddington
Figures Don't Lie (1927)
Janet Wells
Fashions for Women (1927)
CĂ©leste de Givray/Lola Dauvry
A Kiss for Cinderella (1926)
Fairy godmother
The Quarterback (1926)
Louise Mason
Old Ironsides (1926)
Esther
The Blind Goddess (1926)
Moira Devens
The Trouble With Wives (1925)
Dagmar
The Goose Hangs High (1925)
Dagmar Carroll
The Little French Girl (1925)
Toppie Westmacott
The Best People (1925)
Alice O'Neil
Beggar on Horseback (1925)
Cynthia Mason
Lucky Devil (1925)
Doris McDee
Womanhandled (1925)
Mollie
$50,000 Reward (1924)
Carolyn Jordan
Jack o' Clubs (1924)
Queenie Hatch
The Marriage Circle (1924)
Peter Pan (1924)
Mrs. Darling
The Heart Buster (1924)
Rose Hillyer
The Wild Party (1923)
Bess Furth
The Victor (1923)
Chiquita Jones
Blinky (1923)
Mary Lou Kileen
The Prisoner (1923)
Marie
Railroaded (1923)
Joan Dunster
Pure Grit (1923)
Stella Bolling
The Phantom Fortune (1923)
Pals of the West (1922)
Nina
Oliver Twist (1922)
Rose Maylie
Remembrance (1922)
Beatrice
Daring Danger (1922)
Ethel Stanton
Crossing Trails (1921)
Helen Stratton
Whispering Devils (1920)
Rose Gibbard
Huckleberry Finn (1920)
Mary Jane Wilks

Cast (Short)

The American Venus (1926)
Mary Gray

Life Events

1904

Joined family's theatrical troupe at age 2; act known as the "Ralston Family Metropolitan Entertainers with Baby Esther" (date approximate)

1916

Moved to Hollywood with her parents; made screen debut at age 14; earliest films include "Phantom Fortunes"

1921

Played a small role in Charles Chaplin's "The Kid", opposite Chaplin and Jackie Coogan

1924

Cast as Mrs. Darling in a silent film version of "Peter Pan"

1926

Starred in the film, "The American Venus", which led to her acquiring that nickname; film reportedly no longer extant

1929

Played title role in "The Case of Lena Smith"; reported to be her favorite part

1932

Stardom fading; went to England to play prominent roles in "Rome Express" and "After the Ball"

1933

Last leading roles included work in the film, "Black Beauty"

1941

Retired from films

1962

Returned to acting when she played Helen Lee on NBC-TV's serial drama, "Our Five Daughters"

Photo Collections

Sadie McKee - Publicity Stills
Sadie McKee - Publicity Stills
Esther Ralston - Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity stills of Esther Ralston.
Esther Ralston - movie stills
Here are a few scenes stills from films featuring Esther Ralston.
Esther Ralston - Cigarette Card
Esther Ralston cigarette trading card

Family

Howard Ralston
Brother
Actor, stock company manager, theater manager. Born July 25, 1904, died June 1, 1992; appeared in such silent films as "Pollyanna" (1919); formed the Ralston Players in the late 1920s.
Carleton Ralston
Brother
Survived her.
Ted Lloyd
Son
Survived her.
Judy Richmond
Daughter
Survived her.
Mary Baxter
Daughter
Survived her.

Bibliography

"Some Day We'll Laugh: An Autobiography"
Esther Ralston, Scarecrow Press (1985)