Thursday, November 18, 2010

Silent Child Star Baby Marie Osborne R.I.P.

Marie Osborne, a child star in the silent era, passed on November 11, 2010 at the age of 99. She was known in her days of child stardom as "Baby Marie Osborne."

Marie Osborne was born Helen Alice Myres in Denver Colorado on November 5, 1911. Under circumstances that are not entirely clear now, she became the child of Leon and Edith Osborn, who renamed her "Marie" and added an "e' to her surname in an apparent attempt to hide the adoption. In 1914 the Osborns moved to Long Beach to pursue their chosen careers. Leon Osborn was a theatre manage, while Edith Osborn was an actress. Too poor to afford babysitters, they took young Marie with them when they worked on films at Baboa studios. It was not long before Marie Osborne, still a toddler was cast in films. In 1914 she appeared in Kidnapped in New York. The following year she was cast in Maid of the Wild. Baboa signed her to a contract.

It would be in 1916 that director Henry King would build the film Little Mary Sunshine entirely around her. Miss Osborne was soon a major star, even though she was still a toddler. Over the next few years she would star in several films, including Shadows and Sunshine (1916),Twin Kiddies (1917), Told at Twilight (1917), Sunshine and Gold (1917), Captain Kiddo (1917), Dolly Does Her Bit (1918), Dolly's Vacation (1918), and The Little Diplomat (1919). Despite her popularity, all was not well behind the scenes. Her parents fought over custody of Miss Osborne, over money, and other matters. In the meantime  Marie Osborne's popularity began to subside. She made one last film, Little Miss Gingersnap (1919),  and retired at the age of 8 years old.

As an adult Marie Osborne would work in a dime store. It was about this time that she received a call from the superintendent of  the Colorado Children's Home, he revealed that the Osborns had adopted her and that her actual father was a millionaire who had left a tidy inheritance. It was afterwards that, with the help of Henry King, she returned to motion pictures, although only in bit parts. She appeared in such films as Roberta (1935), The Last Days of Pompeii (1935), Swing Time (1935), Stage Door (1937), Follow the Boys (1944), Here Come the Co-Eds (1945), and Bunco Squad (1950). She was also a stand in for Ginger Rogers in several films. In the Fifties she began working in the costume and wardrobe department as 20th Century Fox. She worked on such films as Around the World in 80 Days (1956), How to Murder Your Wife (1965), The Way We Were (1973), and The Godfather II (1974).

Marie Osborne was a major star in her time. As a child actress she made a fortune, which was unfortunately squandered by her adoptive parents. Of the 29 films she made as a child, only a handful survive today. Regardless, as a star she brought Hollywood to international prominence.

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