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Wallace Reid was born William Wallace Reid in St. Louis, Missouri in 1891. His father was a director and actor, and his mother was an actress, and he appeared in an act with his parents when he was just four. His father moved from the stage to movies, and Wallace was in his first movie in 1910. Like his father, he also directed and wrote many of the movies he appeared in. He was very handsome, and was soon given the title of The Screen's Most Perfect Lover. He starred in an astonishing 150 movies (many were shorts) between 1910 and 1916, and he was in both Birth of a Nation and Intolerance. He directed over 50 movies in the same time period, and also wrote 25 of those! In 1913, he married Dorothy Davenport, an 18 year old actress also from an acting family, who had already been in some 40 movies. They appeared in a large number of movies together until 1917, when she had their son Wallace Reid Jr. and she retired. Reid continued to make a large number of movies, but in 1919, when he was making The Valley of the Giants, a movie about logging, he was in a train crash and badly injured. That should have ended the movie, but Paramount did not want to lose its considerable investment, and they had a doctor give Reid morphine, which enabled him to finish filming. But that led to morphine addiction, and Reid already had had alcohol problems. He managed to make another 24 movies over the next three years, but then his drug addiction conquered him and he went to several sanitariums, and died at one of them in 1923, and he was just 31. After his passing, his wife enlisted other top Hollywood people who were friends of theirs to help her direct and star in Human Wreckage, a virulent anti-drug movie, where she was billed as "Mrs. Wallace Reid". Two years later she directed and starred in The Red Kimono, which was a fictionalized account of a real-life prostitute who reformed and had success, and the movie used her real name and events from her life. The real woman sued and won. Davenport appeared in a few more movies, and then retired, but she lived for over a half century after her husband's death. Wallace Reid was the Clark Gable of his day, the "King" of Hollywood. Women wanted him, and men wanted to be like him! His death was a huge event, and greatly hurt the public's perception of Hollywood, and helped expose the sordid side of movie making that had rarely been made public until that time.
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