Jewel Carmen (Florence Lavina Quick)

Jewel Carmen

Born Florence Lavina Quick in Danville, Kentucky, Carmen made her film debut in the 1912 film The Will of Destiny. She went on to appear in Daphne and the Pirate (1916), opposite Lillian Gish and D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916).  In 1917, Carmen contracted with Fox Film Corporation, but finding the deal unsatisfactory opened a new contract with the Keeney Corporation in 1918 while her first contract remained in effect. Fox sent Keeney notice of their prior contract, warning that they would hold Keeney responsible for assisting her in breaking it, promising to indemnify Keeney against legal retaliation. Carmen launched two lawsuits against Fox, one to attempt to free herself of the obligation of living up to her contract and another to seek redress for their interference with her contract with Keeney.  Key to the issues was the question of where the contracts had been made: New York or California. Fox’s offices were located in New York; Carmen was a resident of California. By California law, Carmen was an adult at the time of signing the contract; by New York law, which granted majority at 21, she was not. If not an adult, she could not be legally held to the document she had signed. Though Carmen initially won the first lawsuit, having the contracts set aside and receiving damages of $43,500 from Fox, the decision was overturned on appeal because she had “unclean” hands, having herself treated Fox unfairly. However, she won her second case because Fox’s interference with her employment with Keeney had been outside the law, though Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo made clear that he did not approve of the legal loophole that allowed Carmen to break her contract with Fox.

Carmen later became known for her connection to the scandal surrounding the death of actress Thelma Todd. She was the wife of Roland West, who had an extramarital affair with Todd and who came under suspicion following Todd’s death of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Todd died in a garage attached to the home where Carmen’s parents lived, which Carmen had formerly shared with West. The death was suspicious for a number of factors, including that Todd was allegedly spotted or spoken to several times the day after her purported time of death; Carmen herself testified before the grand jury that she had seen Todd somewhere with another man. After the scandal broke, Carmen’s marriage to West ended, and she retired from the public eye.  Carmen died of lymphoma on March 4, 1984 at the age of 86.

Born

  • July, 13, 1897
  • USA
  • Danville, Kentucky

Died

  • March, 04, 1984
  • USA
  • San Diego, California

Cause of Death

  • lymphoma

Other

  • Cremated

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