The story of the life of movie actress Madge Bellamy has been told and embellished many different times. In an effort to set the record straight near the end of her life she wrote an autobiography entitled “A Darling of the Twenties”. While it told the colorful highlights of her life and a film career that stretched from 1920 to 1946 some details of course were not included. Perhaps not intentionally but simply because she did not feel they were important.
Born Margaret Derden Philpott in Hillsboro, Texas on 30 June 1899 she was the only child of William Bledsoe Philpott, a college English professor, and Annie Margaret Derden. By the time she was six years old the family were living on 8th Street in New York City which no doubt offered numerous possibilities for a talented and beautiful child to develop the skills necessary for an acting career. She took dance lessons and by 1917 appeared in the chorus line for The Love Mill on Broadway in New York. Reportedly a broken ankle led her career in a different direction and her first big acting break came in 1918, when she replaced Helen Hays in the Broadway production Dear Brutus and eventually went on a road tour with the company. In 1919 she was part of the road show touring company for Pollyanna.
Touring with the stock companies for these productions took her to Denver, Colorado where she met her first husband, Carlos Bellamy. This part of her life has been omitted not only by her but also by her biographers, however, proof exists in the form of her divorce from Carlos Bellamy. Carlos was a U.S. Army veteran who had been gassed on the battlefield in Europe during World War I. His injuries were so severe that doctors only gave him a few months to live sending him to Denver to recuperate. Of course, he didn’t die but lived to the ripe old age of 88. But it was in Denver that Carlos met Madge and they wed then divorced a short time later. Madge’s career was taking off and she had the opportunity to begin acting on the silent screen in her first big role The Riddle: Woman in 1920. She went on to appear in many movies in the 1920’s and 1930’s but a reputation for tempetuous love affairs and being labeled as a “temperamental” actress caused her career to decline. (She was married for four days in 1928 to Logan Metcalfe and tried to shoot Albert Murphy who she claimed to have married in 1944.) The Internet Movie Database records 61 film credits for her.
Madge Bellamy died 24 January 1990 in Upland, California and was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. She never had children and lived alone the last years of her life while devoting time to political activism, including the causes of civil rights and feminism.
- June, 30, 1899
- Hillsboro, Texas
- January, 24, 1990
- Upland, California
Cause of Death
- heart failure
- Forest Lawn Memorial Park
- Glendale, California