Thomas Meighan (April 9, 1879 – July 8, 1936) was an American actor
of silent films and early talkies. He played several leading man roles
opposite popular actresses of the day including
Mary Pickford and
Gloria Swanson. At one point he commanded $10,000 a week.
1 Early life
2 Early theatre career
3 Film career
4 Personal life
4.2 Hollywood scandals
7 Selected filmography
9 External links
Meighan was born to John and Mary Meighan in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
His father was the president of
Pittsburgh Facing Mills and his family
was well off.
Meighan's parents encouraged him to go to college but he refused. At
the age of 15 his father sent him to work shoveling coal which quickly
changed his mind. He attended St. Mary's College studying
pharmacology. After 3 years of study Meighan decided he wished to
Early theatre career
After dropping out of college in 1896 Meighan became a juvenile player
Pittsburgh Stock Company headed by Henrietta Crosman. He was
paid $35 a week.
Meighan soon found success. He first appeared on Broadway in 1900. In
1904 Meighan appeared in "The Two Orphans". His breakthrough role
came in 1908 when he appeared with William Collier Sr. in "The
Dictator". That was followed by a leading role in The College Widow,
which had a successful run on Broadway for the 1907–1908 season. It
was during this run he met his wife Frances Ring.
Despite his film career Meighan remained devoted to the theatre during
In 1914 he abandoned theatre for the new movie industry; which was
still in its infancy at the time. His first film was shot in London,
titled "Dandy Donovan, the Gentleman Cracksman". This film led to a
contract with Famous Players-Lasky. His first US film was in 1915,
"The Fighting Hope". During the next 2 years Meighan's career would
take off. In 1918 he made a propaganda film for
World War I
World War I titled,
Norma Talmadge and
Thomas Meighan in a Liberty Loan Appeal". He then
Mary Pickford in M'Liss.
Meighan with co-star
Pauline Starke in 1922, as they appeared in
publicity for the film If You Believe It, It's So.
In 1919 Meighan hit stardom. One of his best known films at the time
was the 1919 The Miracle Man which featured Lon Chaney Sr.. This
film is now believed to be lost except for brief clips. This was
followed with Cecil B. DeMille's
Male and Female
Male and Female which starred him
Gloria Swanson and Lila Lee. Most of the cast returned for
the 1920 film,
Why Change Your Wife?
Why Change Your Wife? which also co-starred Bebe
Daniels. In April 1925, Meighan and Swanson produced a short film,
Allan Dwan for the annual "Spring Gambol" for The Lambs.
This film, sometimes known as
Gloria Swanson Dialogue made in Lee
Phonofilm process, was made as a joke for the
live event, showing Swanson trying to crash the all-male club.
His popularity continued through the
Roaring Twenties with him
starring in several pictures. In 1924 he played in The Alaskan
Estelle Taylor and Anna May Wong. In 1927, Meighan starred in
The City Gone Wild
The City Gone Wild opposite Louise Brooks.
His final silents, both produced by
Howard Hughes in 1928, were The
Mating Call, which was critical of the KKK, and The Racket, which was
nominated for an
Academy Award for Best Picture. Both were thought
lost until rediscovered in private collections in 2006 and restored by
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
University of Nevada, Las Vegas and shown on Turner Classic Movies.
His first talkie feature film was
The Argyle Case
The Argyle Case (1928). Meighan was
nearing 50 and feared his popularity might wane, and decided to go
into real estate. It took until 1931 for him to return to the screen
with Young Sinners. He would go on to make only four additional
talkies until his illness sidelined him from acting. His last film
Peck's Bad Boy
Peck's Bad Boy in 1934.
Meighan commanded a salary of $5,000 a week for much of his career. At
one point it reached $10,000 a week.
Meighan met Frances Ring (July 4, 1882 – January 15, 1951). Ring
was an attractive stage actress, on Broadway when Meighan was also
appearing. She was a sister of popular singer Blanche Ring.
A. Edward Sutherland
A. Edward Sutherland was a nephew of both
Blanche Ring and
Meighan. Sutherland's mother, Julie, was a sister of Blanche and
Meighan and Ring became inseparable and soon married. They remained
married until his death in 1936. Their happy marriage was considered a
strong one prompting one writer to remark, "
Thomas Meighan and Rin Tin
Tin were the only Hollywood stars who had never seen a divorce court".
The couple had no children.
Meighan was involved in some of the more scandalous moments of silent
film history; albeit as a helping hand. On October 25, 1916 in New
Jersey he was the sole witness to
Jack Pickford and Olive Thomas's
In March 1923, Douglas Gerrad, in need of help bailing his friend
Rudolph Valentino out of jail for bigamy, called up a fellow Irishman
named Dan O'Brien who happened to be with Meighan at the time. Meighan
barely knew Valentino but put up a large chunk of the bail money, and
with the help of
June Mathis and George Melford, Valentino was
In the mid-1920s, Meighan became obsessed with
Florida after talks
with his realtor brother James E. Meighan. He bought property in
Florida in 1925. In 1927, he built a home in New Port Richey,
Florida where he would spend his winters. He intended to shoot his
film We're All Gamblers there, however, filming was moved to Miami.
The Meighans hoped to draw other celebrities to the area. On July
1, 1926, The Meighan Theatre opened with a screening of Meighan's
movie The New Klondike. Meighan himself was not present but sent a
In 1930 sound was added to the theatre. Meighan himself appeared this
time, pushing the button to start the sound. The theatre closed in
1934, a victim of the Depression. It reopened in 1938 under the name
The New Port Richey Theatre. The theatre is still open as a
community playhouse under the name Richey Suncoast Theatre.
In 1934, Meighan was diagnosed with cancer. In 1935, he underwent
surgery at Doctors Hospital in Manhattan. He finally succumbed to
cancer at 9:10pm on July 8, 1936, passing away at his home in Great
Neck, New York. Many of his family were present.
Meighan was originally buried at Calvary Cemetery in Queens. After
resting there for almost a year, his remains were moved to a family
plot at Saint Mary Cemetery in Meighan's hometown of Pittsburgh.
Meighan was a large donater to various Catholic charities and the
Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies. Many of
his later films survive and have been released on DVD.
Danny Donovan, the Gentleman Cracksman (1914)
The Fighting Hope
The Fighting Hope (1915)
The Secret Sin
The Secret Sin (1915)
Armstrong's Wife (1915)
The Immigrant (1915)
Pudd'nhead Wilson (1916)
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1916)
The Sowers (1916)
Common Ground (1916)
The Storm (1916)
The Heir to the Hoorah (1916) directed by William C. deMille
The Slave Market (1917)
The Silent Partner (1917)
Sleeping Fires (1917)
In Pursuit of Polly
In Pursuit of Polly (1918)
Madame Jealousy (1918)
Eve's Daughter (1918)
Heart of the Wilds
Heart of the Wilds (1918)
Out of a Clear Sky
Out of a Clear Sky (1918)
Male and Female
Male and Female (1919)
The Heart of Wetona
The Heart of Wetona (1919)
The Probation Wife
The Probation Wife (1919)
The Miracle Man (1919)
Conrad in Quest of His Youth
Conrad in Quest of His Youth (1920)
The Prince Chap
The Prince Chap (1920)
Civilian Clothes (1920)
The City of Silent Men
The City of Silent Men (1921)
White and Unmarried
White and Unmarried (1921)
The Conquest of Canaan
The Conquest of Canaan (1921)
Cappy Ricks (1921)
A Prince There Was
A Prince There Was (1921)
Frontier of the Stars (1921)
The Bachelor Daddy
The Bachelor Daddy (1922)
Our Leading Citizen (1922)
The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1922)
If You Believe It, It's So
If You Believe It, It's So (1922)
The Ne'er-Do-Well (1923)
Homeward Bound (1923)
Pied Piper Malone
Pied Piper Malone (1924) print held Gosfilmofond
The Confidence Man (1924)
Tongues of Flame (1924)
The Alaskan (1924)
Old Home Week (1925)
The Man Who Found Himself (1925)
The New Klondike
The New Klondike (1926)
Tin Gods (1926)
The Canadian (1926)
Blind Alleys (1927)
The Argyle Case
The Argyle Case (1929)
^ a b c d © Thomas Meighan, Silent Movie Star – goldensilents.com
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Thomas Meighan, Movie Actor, Dies". The New
York Times. July 9, 1936. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
^ Meighan Genealogy Thomas Meighan
^ Who Was Who in the Theatre 1912–1976 original material by John
Parker, reprinted here by Gale Research (1976)
^ Barry Paris,
Louise Brooks (Anchor Books, 1990) p. 147
^ Long, Bruce (September 1995). "TAYLOROLOGY; The Life and Death of
Olive Thomas". public.asu.edu. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
^ Leider, Emily W., Dark Lover: The life and death of Rudolph
Valentino, p. 211
^ a b c "History of the Meighan/Richey Suncoast Theatre". fivay.org.
September 5, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
^ Silent Era : Theaters : USA : Florida : New Port
Thomas Meighan Theatre
^ "Meighan Death Takes Star of Silent Screen". Motion Picture Herald.
124 (3): 66. July 18, 1936.
^ "Body of Meighan Brought to City".
Pittsburgh Press. June 13, 1937.
^ deMille, William C. (2007). "24: The Excitements of Celluloid: The
Camel's Nose". In Peter Wild. The Grumbling Gods: a Palm Springs
Reader. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press.
ISBN 978-0-87480-899-5. OCLC 122974473, 608203796,
608020250 (print and on-line), quoting deMille in Hollywood Saga. New
York, NY: E. P. Dutton. 1939. p. 319. OCLC 1353346.
(Rouben Mamoulian Collection (Library of Congress) First edition
OCLC 655475937) (Also catalogued at OCLC 494267566,
475574309; and OCLC 591194207 (eBook)); and see The Heir to the
Hoorah at the American Film Institute Catalog
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thomas Meighan.
Thomas Meighan on IMDb
The Meighan Theatre
Photographs and literature
Photo of Meighan with his wife Frances Ring, 1920
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