Helene Costello (Helene Costello)

Helene Costello

Actress.  She was brought to the screen at age three by her father,  matinee idol  Maurice Costello,  and played juvenile roles in over 60 films,  including “Cleopatra” (1912),  “Beau Brummel” (1913),  and “A Christmas Story” (1913).  In many of these she appeared with her sister,   Dolores Costello.  After World War I the sisters formed a dance duet that culminated in a featured spot on Broadway’s “George White’s Scandals” of 1924.  The following year they went to Hollywood under contract to Warner Bros.,  where their personal and professional lives took different turns.  While Dolores was a classic beauty,  Helene projected an earthy,  contemporary quality.  She scored her first big adult role opposite her future brother-in-law,   John Barrymore,  in “Don Juan” (1926),  but audiences liked her better as a Jazz Age flapper in films like “The Love Toy” (1926),  “Husbands for Rent” (1927),  and “Good Time Charley” (1927).  She was named a “WAMPAS Baby Star” in 1927.  Helene had the female lead in the first “100% All-Talking Picture”,  “Lights of New York” (1928),  but was unhappy with sound.  In 1930 she retired to marry actor-director  Lowell Sherman,  who was nearly 20 years her senior.  The relationship was a disaster and their very public 1932 divorce was one of the nastiest of its day,  with the estranged couple hurling insults and charges of domestic abuse,  alcoholism,  and kinky behavior at each other in open court.  The humiliating spectacle made front page news in Tinseltown and dashed Helene’s hopes for a career comeback.  The rest of her life played out in the tabloids,  with another failed marriage,  family feuds,  and frequent hospitalizations stemming from her alcohol and later heroin addictions.  For a time she was employed as a script reader at Fox,  but in 1947 she was declared destitute and went to live with her aged father at the Motion Picture Country Home. She died of pneumonia and tuberculosis at the Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, California,  where she had gone in a futile attempt at drug rehabilitation.  There were so few mourners at her funeral that journalists covering the story were asked to serve as pallbearers.  Helene’s is the only unmarked grave in the Costello family plot at Calvary Cemetery. (bio by: Bobb Edwards)  Family links:  Parents:  Maurice Costello (1877 – 1950)  Mae Costello (1882 – 1929)  Spouse:  Lowell Sherman (1888 – 1934)*  Sibling:  Dolores Costello (1903 – 1979)*  Helene Costello (1906 – 1957) *Calculated relationship


  • June, 21, 1906
  • USA


  • January, 01, 1957
  • USA


  • Calvary Cemetery
  • California
  • USA

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