Surviving actors.

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Surviving actors.

Unread post by Willieeee » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:26 pm

Hello, everybody. I'm relatively new to classic film, and mostly uninitiated in silent film. Since some years ago i have become more interested in classic film, and especially in the surviving people of the first decades of cinema, including specially the silent era. Of course, even in the internet era it is very difficult to obtain accurate information on the whereabouts and alive (or not) status of these people (the living treasures of cinema, really). Some years ago i believed that imdb was a completely reliable source, but recently i've found it not to be so. I'm sorry for my bad english (my language is spanish) and i'm sorry because i'm about to ask some questions to the forum and to write a long and probably boring account of my recent interest in these issues, but i'm doing it because, of the many sites i've been visiting looking for information (imbd, younghollywoodhof, wikipedia, Stummfilm-Blog, etc) this forum seems to be one of the (or THE) most complete, and some people here seems to know A LOT about these questions :D , so i will try to be respectful of the very valuable information these learned people can give to me, an information very difficult to find indeed. Thank you in advance :) (oh, and sorry if i'm asking something already adressed in some other post...)

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Unread post by Changsham » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:31 pm

Hi, I don't think you will find much more than to what is commonly known on IMDB or Wilkipedia. Although there may be some obscure people still around but likely ex child players if so.

To name the few I know who started out in the silent era and are still around to this day will be child players Micky Rooney and Baby Peggy and also Barbara Kent who is perhaps the last adult player. Only Baby Peggy would be considered to have had some real fame at the time though.

I think the last adult star of the period to survive was Anita Page who passed away in 2009. She would also have perhaps one of the longest spanning careers in film with her last work being Frankenstein's Rising which was released posthumously in 2010. That would make it 85 years since her film debut in 1925 and final release. She retired early and for a long time but made a comeback of sorts after her last husband died and did a few documentaries and also appeared in several low budget schlock horror films.

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Unread post by westegg » Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:18 pm

As an interesting sidenote to the above, let's not forget Doris Eaton Travis (or just Doris Eaton in the early days). She wasn't actually a star, but she made several movies up until 1933, and then a mere 66 years later she filmed a substantial scene with Jim Carrey in THE MAN IN THE MOON. She died at age 106 in 2010, days after appearing on stage.

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Unread post by Willieeee » Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:27 pm

:shock: Thank you, Changsham, westegg, that's a lot of info, you've adressed my question even before i finished doing my case :D . Anyways, i've promised to make a case. I've already written a lot but for some reason (my language is spanish) my post is being held for moderation, for usin a forbidden word!! ¿could it be "Tumblewds"?

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Unread post by Willieeee » Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:33 pm

Yeah, it was "Tumblewds" !!!

Well, here i go:

Circa 2005-2006 i saw for the first time "Tumblewds" (sorry, but i think some moderation bot is forbidding me the use of this word), directed and starred by William Hart. I really enjoyed the movie and for the first time, being myself very fond of cinema, i tried to find if there was some actor/actress of the movie that was still alive. I rushed to imdb and found that the "young" actor Jack Murphy was still alive, or so i tought: there was a date of birth (simply "1912"), and no date of death (yeah, i believed that no date of death on imdb =person still alive :roll: ). Other information was that he had a brother named Maurice Murphy, whose date of birth AND death were precisely detailed. Seeing also that EVERYONE ELSE in the movie had already died (date of death for everyone, even the little baby who appears in the movie), i simply assumed the he (Jack Murphy) was still alive, and thus, that he
was one of the very few living treasures of the silent era.
Of course, i was happy about it. Some time later i found that
he was one of the lead characters in the 1924 "Peter Pan" (John Darling, none the less), and i found too that almost everyone else
in the movie had already died (that is, the date of death of almost everyone else in the movie was accounted for; his brother Maurice also was in that movie). And i was, of course, very happy. The date of birth was still “1912″.
Some years later (relatively recently, i believe), the DATE OF BIRTH was updated (6 march 1911, so he was or is older than i believed) but nothing about a date of death: still the information that he was brother of Maurice Murphy, and the date and place of birth and date and place of death of his brother Maurice, but still NOTHING about his death.
And last year, i found the site that says that he died... in 1993!!. Of course, i was very disappointed, but many doubts started to grow in my mind, especially the discrepancy with imdb, and the fact that it was the only site that showed a date of death (there was some other site that used the word “was” when refering to him, while used the word “is” when refering to another kid that is, apparently, still alive (Terence MacMillan, that information coincides with imdb), but no date of death was shown on that site. No date of death is shown in (i believe).
Overall, it’s very difficult to find information about him (not only because of his obscurity as a silent era actor, but because is name it’s just too common). In the site there is a very precise date and place of death… But why the imdb did not updated the date of death when his date and place of birth were so precisely updated? During some time i believed that imdb had overall more accurate information than and many other sites, and it showed the date of date of almost everyone else "close" to him in terms of the movies he acted in, even if they were as obscure and unknown as him.
Finally, more recently, imdb updated his date of death as... June 8, 1962 !! (unbelievable, that would mean he died almost 50 years ago)... BUT i'm almost sure imdb is confusing the John Francis (aka Jack) Murphy from "Peter Pan" and "Tumblewds", born March 6 1911, with John Francis Murphy, Second Unit Director or Assistant Director, born July 13 1909. Yeah, it's really a mess, but i suspect that he is already deceased, mostly because the date of death in is very precise, and the place of death is in the state of Washington, where he was born in 1911.
Anyway, my point is that there are very few and very confusing data about this Jack Murphy.

In the meantime, i found last year an article about Baby Marie Osborne that showed that she was rumored dead many years ago, but was later proven that she was still alive and doing well, and that it was another Marie Osborne the one who had died (i believe). So it will not be the first time that some dead is confused with somenoe else. Anyway, she died in November 2010, and i found myself very sad about it, even if i have yet to see one of his movies. I've become very fond of these surviving
treasures, there is a sense of loss and times gone far away, of losing our links with past and identity, not only in film, but life in general...

Since 2005-2006 i have continued to investigate, with very limited means (i.e, just internet) about many other silent era actors/actresses that could be presumed still alive, mostly child actors:
I know these six are still alive, confirmed: Johannes Hesteers, Carla Laemmle, Barbara Kent, Michael D. Moore, Mickey Rooney, Baby Peggy Montgomery. I also found last year about Georgie Stone, born 1909, another child actor star of the silent era, but recently the site younghollywoodhof, and later also imdb, updated his date
of death: 25 april 2010 :( , 101 years old!!. During some time i believed that Arthur Trimble was still alive, although there was almost no info on him, just an aproximate DOB in 1916-1917... But later i found this forum, and there was a post about him, with a very sad story about his death that i don't want to remeber here. Since then, imdb has updated his DOD as 1948 (more than 60 years ago).
There are two other kids i would like to know something else about: Leon Holmes (birth name Leon Leon von Sederholm, born 1913), actor in Disney's Alice Comedies, and a role too in "The King of Kings", 1927, as the "imbecile boy", curiously sharing screen with Mickey Moore; and Baby Ivy Ward (i suspect this should be a verrrrry difficult question). I
suspect Leon Holmes is already deceased, because Virginia Davis, the title character in the "Alice Comedies", died in 2008, and there was the general feeling that she was the last living link with the silent era of Disney.

So, apologies again for this extensive and boring account, but i think that i must describe my case very carefully, because there are very learned people in this forum, and i want to show them the due respect because they are somehow helping to preserve an important part of our history and culture, so i don't want them to feel that they are wasting their time with some noob that just ask questions... THANK YOU in advance, you all have already helped me a lot in my interest in classic film!

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Re: Surviving actors.

Unread post by OnTheHunt » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:47 am

Leon Sederholm is my great-uncle. The story that makes it's rounds in my family is that he died around 1955 from a heart attack on a cargo ship coming back from a trip. The problem with that is when I search for him on passenger lists his name comes up in 1959, 1961, 1962, and 1969. Also, I have not been able to find a death certificate or burial location. I believe that Leon has passed away, but now I just need to know the details. If anyone has any further information I would greatly appreciate it.

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Re: Surviving actors.

Unread post by Robert Moulton » Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:38 am

I can't find a death date for Leon Sederholme. I see him born on Nov 26, 1913 to a mother named Kaskell. I'm reasonably sure that that is him since a Nov 29, 1949 newspaper article mentions his recent birthday dinner with his brother Robert in attendance.

In the 1920 census I see him with his brothers Robert and Norvin and sister Isabelle at the Pacific Hebrew Orphans' Asylum at 600 Divisadero St in San Francisco. By 1930 they are back with what looks like their widowed mother Rose. Rose died Oct 03, 1954.

Rose had married Alfred N vonSederholm on Feb 12, 1905. It looks like he died Nov 25, 1914, which would explain the orphanage.

Last record I see for Leon is in 1960 where he seems to be liquidating the estate of Harold Bell Wright (author of The Winning of Barbara North).

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Re: Surviving actors.

Unread post by Brooksie » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:32 pm

Have you tried searching the Social Security Death Index? It's a useful resource for confirming the death of a person if you have enough details. It's freely searchable at If you can't find an exact name, try searching for spelling variants.

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Re: Surviving actors.

Unread post by Warren Maxim » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:29 am

Those who have inquired about Leon Holmes(Leon Van Sederholm born in 1913) I knew him for a short time from November 1967 to March 1968. He was a passenger on the SS President Lincoln. It was a 12 passenger/frieghter with the American President Lines. He boarded in San Francisco. I was a crew member and Leon and I got along very well. We went for dinner in Hong Kong and toured the sights. Did the same in the Philippines along with a movie. Toured various other ports as well. He was a very friendly man with a great sense of humor. He loved to show off his album with all his movie parts. He was extremely proud of that binder. He was also proud to be friends with Phyllis Disney. I believe that was Walters daughter.

We arrived back in San Francisco in February 1968. He left me his phone number and said to call if I was in the Los Angeles area. As luck would have I happened to be in L.A. a month later and called him. He sounded bad. He was sick so we didn't meet. We had no further contact. So his timeline was at least as far as March of 1968. I hope this helps his family as well as those who asked about him.

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