Friday, November 30, 2012

Million Dollar Mystery: Marguerite Snow

What better way to kick off the holiday season than with some Snow?  ;)

photo courtesy Looking For Mabel Normand

Marguerite Snow was another of the big Thanhouser stars, and played the second lead -- the mysterious Countess Olga Petroff -- in The Million Dollar Mystery.  Like Florence LaBadie and so many other early film stars, the information about her is spotty and confusing.  Just trying to pin down her date and place of birth is bewildering:

Marguerite Snow was born on September 9, 1889 (some accounts say 1891 or 1892; she kept moving her birth date forward) in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Some listings give Savannah, Georgia; a 1916 listing in Motion Picture News Studio Directory gives her birth date as September 9, 1892, in Atlanta; an obituary in The Los Angeles ExaminerFebruary 19, 1958, gave Denver as her natal city.) [courtesy  Thanhouser]

Regardless of the year, we know Miss Snow was born into a performing family.  Her father was a comedian, and with her mother formed the vaudeville act Snow & West.  Young Marguerite, "Peggy" for short, grew up in Denver, and made her first stage appearance in 1907.  She quickly rose to prominence, playing leads in shows like The Christian and Peter Pan.  By 1910 she was working for Thanhouser, and a year later her popularity was great enough for her to place second in a "favorite photoplay star" contest.  (Mary Pickford placed third!)

Also, by 1911, she had met James Cruze, the aforementioned "intrepid reporter" of Million Dollar Mystery and Thanhouser's best-known leading man.  They were married in January (some sources say February)  1913, and a daughter, Julie Jane, was born in October of that same year.  (I'll pause while you all do the math.)  The marriage was an unhappy one, and Snow later testified to frequent physical abuse by Cruze, including one famous incident in public:

The couple were at a party when the actress requested James take one of her women friends home. The ensuing quarrel ended with Cruze beating his wife about her face and body. She was knocked to the floor and one of her teeth was dislodged.  [courtesy Wikipedia]

images courtesy Thanhouser and

They divorced in 1923, with Snow retaining primary custody of Julie.  Towards the end of Cruze's life, they appeared to have reconciled enough for both Marguerite and Julie to visit him frequently at his home.  (Cruze died in 1942; you'll hear more about him -- what a character -- in my next Million Dollar Mystery piece.)

Marguerite left Thanhouser in 1915, but continued to work in films for studios such as Metro and Artcraft.  While still married to Cruze, she held dual addresses in both New York City and California, but after the divorce she remained primarily on the West Coast.   Her screen career lasted until 1925, when she remarried and retired; her marriage to comedian Neely Edwards lasted until her death.  

Marguerite Snow died of complications following kidney surgery on February 17, 1958.  She was 68.

image courtesy Thanhouser


Page said...

I've been looking forward to your look back at the life and career of M. Snow.

Her abusive marriage to Cruze doesn't surprise me at all. I recently did a bio on Betty Compson, his second wife and while very little info is available about details, it appears he was a drunk abuser with her as well. Left her in severe debt due to his tax issues.

If only these women didn't endure abuse and learned from other women's experiences. In the end, they both got away from him which is the most important thing though.

Snow, like Compson was a lovely women and a talented actress.

Well done!
Have a great weekend.

Flapper Flickers + Silent Stanzas said...

Thanks Page! Yeah, he was a real winner. Thank God both of them got out before it got (much) worse!

Lisa said...

This is fascinating!