Friday, December 4, 2009
Sydney Ayres (1879-1916) – Silent Movie Actor; Director
[Photo of Ayres grave by Michael Colbruno]
PLOT 27, Lot 64 (Franck)
Sydney Ayres was a well-known and popular star of the stage and silent screen, before embarking on a career as a film director. He started his acting career in Oakland with the theater company of Lewis Morrison in a production of “Faust.”
At the time, Ayres was one of the biggest celebrities that Oakland had produced. He became a leading man at Ye Liberty Playhouse in Oakland before touring North America as a featured star on the famed Orpheum Theater circuit. He often performed works which he had written, as well as those by famed playwrights like David Belasco.
In 1912, he married Anna Franck, an attractive young woman from Oakland’s high society. His former wife accused him publicly of bigamy, claiming that their divorce had never been finalized. Ayres provided proof of his divorce and claimed that his ex-wife did not receive service of the divorce papers at either of her residences.
In 1915, Ayres was involved in a serious car accident while working on a film in Hollywood. He finished the project from a wheelchair with the assistance of his wife. Ayres ended up collapsing, prompting a newspaper to write that it was caused by “thrilling ‘movie’ scenes, overwork, an automobile wreck, and other motion picture experiences.”
Within a year Ayres was dead and the Oakland Tribune listed the cause of death as a “nervous breakdown.” [Wikipedia says Ayres died of complications from multiple sclerosis, but lists no source. I could find no substantiation of this claim.]
-- Biography by Michael Colbruno
Subscribe to Michael Colbruno's Mountain View Cemetery Bio Tour by Email
Posted by Michael at 8:19 PM