Mae Marsh (Mae Arms)

Mae Marsh

Mae Marsh

Actress. She was the daughter of a Santa Fe, New Mexico railroad auditor that died when she was only four years old. Her stepfather died in the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, California, after which time her great aunt, a former actress and chorus girl took her to Los Angeles, California.  In 1910 Mae Marsh began her acting career in motion picture work for filmmakers Mack Sennett and D.W. Griffith.  Her breakout role was as a stone-age maiden in 1912’s “Man’s Genesis”.  Originally Mary Pickford was to play the role but declined it when she discovered the role called for bare legs. After her success in “Man’s Genesis”, Mae Marsh appeared in numerous films and found success in Griffith’s landmark film “Birth of a Nation” (1915) which also starred Lillian Gish, Miriam Cooper and Wallace Reid. She played ‘Flora Cameron’, a demanding role that many considered to be the best of her career. He performance allegedly moved poet Vachel Lindsay so much that he wrote a poem in her honor.  In 1916 she had another memorable part as ‘The Dear One’ in “Intolerance” which was also directed by D.W. Griffith. A talent for playing dramatic or tragic film roles, after she acted in “Intolerance” Samuel Goldwyn put her under contract for $2,500 per week but it failed to push her career to new heights. She mostly retired from films in 1918 shortly before her marriage to Goldwyn publicity agent Lee Arms, making only sporadic film appearances during the 1920’s.  Like many other stars of the era, the Great Depression of 1929 left her penniless thus forcing her to return to films in order to eke out a living.  She played ‘Aunt Jane’ in the 1932 version of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” and also acted in “Alice in Wonderland” (1933), “Bachelor of Arts” (1934) and “Black Fury” (1935).  Mae continued to work steadily throughout the 1940s and 1950s, mainly in bit parts and uncredited roles in numerous films and also in films directed by John Ford.  During this period she acted in “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940), “Belle Starr” (1941), “How Green Was My Valley” (1941), “The Song of Bernadette” (1943), “Jane Eyre” (1944), “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1945), “My Darling Clementine” (1946), “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947), “A Letter to Three Wives” (1949), “The Searchers” (1956) and on the television series “Wagon Train” and “Bonanza”. (bio by: r77ortiz)  Family links:  Parents:  May Warne Hall (1876 – 1928)  Spouse:  Louis Lee Arms (1888 – 1989)*  Sibling:  Oliver T. Marsh (1893 – 1941)*  Mae Marsh Arms (1895 – 1968) *Calculated relationship

More Images

  • Mae grave -


  • November, 09, 1894
  • Madrid, New Mexico


  • February, 13, 1968
  • Hermosa Beach, California

Cause of Death

  • heart attack


  • Pacific Crest Cemetery
  • Redondo Beach, California

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