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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

May McAvoy
May McAvoy - Photoplay, December 1924.jpg
McAvoy in 1925
Born(1899-09-08)September 8, 1899
DiedApril 26, 1984(1984-04-26) (aged 84)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, U.S.
Years active1917–1959
Maurice Cleary
(m. 1929; div. 1940)
(m. 1971)

May Irene McAvoy[citation needed] (September 8, 1899 – April 26, 1984)[1] was an American actress who worked mainly during the silent-film era. Some of her major roles are Laura Pennington in The Enchanted Cottage, Esther in Ben-Hur, and Mary Dale in The Jazz Singer.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Tribute to May McAvoy
  • James McAvoy Performs Copacabana w/ Barry Manilow | The Jonathan Ross Show
  • The Fire Brigade 1926 Charles Ray, May McAvoy, Holmes Herbert DVD, MP4
  • Luke Evans And Hugh Jackman's Gaston Sing Off | The Jonathan Ross Show
  • The Jazz Singer | "Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet" Scene | Warner Bros. Entertainment


Life and career

May Irene McAvoy was born on September 8, 1899 in New York City to Julia Agnes McAvoy (née Reilly) and James Patrick McAvoy, who were both first generation Irish-Americans. The 1910 census lists her as living with her maternal grandparents in Sussex, New Jersey.[citation needed]

McAvoy debuted as an extra in the film Hate in 1917.[2] After appearing in more than three dozen films, she co-starred with Ramón Novarro and Francis X. Bushman in director Fred Niblo's 1925 production of Ben-Hur released by MGM. She also portrayed Lady Windermere in Ernst Lubitsch's Lady Windermere's Fan (1925).

In addition to acting in The Jazz Singer, McAvoy coached Al Jolson as he made his film debut.[3] Although her voice was not heard in The Jazz Singer, she spoke in several other films, including the second sound film released by Warner Brothers, The Terror, which was directed by Roy Del Ruth and co-starred Conrad Nagel.

For years, a rumor circulated that McAvoy retired from the screen at the transition to sound films because of a lisp or speech impediment.[4] In truth, she married the treasurer of United Artists, who asked her not to work.[4]

Later, she returned to films and played small, uncredited roles during the 1940s and 1950s, making her final film appearance in a small part of the 1959 version of Ben-Hur. Most of her later uncredited work was performed for MGM.[5]

McAvoy was the Rose Queen in the Rose Parade in 1923.[6]

Personal life

McAvoy married banker Maurice Cleary on June 26, 1929,[7] with whom she had a son named Patrick,[1] and divorced him in 1940.[8] They remarried on December 10, 1971. She was a registered Republican.[9] McAvoy was a lifelong Roman Catholic.[10]


On April 26, 1984, McAvoy died at the age of 84 from the after effects of a heart attack suffered the previous year.[2] She is interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[1]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, May McAvoy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1731 Vine Street.[11]


McAvoy in 1922
McAvoy in 1922


  1. ^ a b c "Original Jazz Singer' Star May Mcavoy Dies At 82 ". Gainesville Sun. May 3, 1984. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "May Mcavoy Dies; Jolson's Leading Lady". Schenectady Gazette. May 4, 1984. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  3. ^ Berg, A. Scott (1998). Goldwyn: A Biography. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-49735-7. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Lamparski, Richard (1982). Whatever Became Of ...? Eighth Series. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 190–1. ISBN 0-517-54855-0.
  5. ^ Slide, Anthony. Hollywood Unknowns: A History of the Extras, Bit Players, and Stand-Ins. Jackson: University of Missouri Press. p 167.
  6. ^ Kleiner, Dick (January 16, 1983). "Former queen was the only actress chosen". Manitowoc Herald-Times. Wisconsin, Manitowoc. Newspaper Enterprise. p. 36. Retrieved March 6, 2020 – via
  7. ^ "May Mcavoy Is Married". San Jose News. June 27, 1929. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  8. ^ "May McAvoy Wins Divorce and Discloses Her Poverty". Los Angeles Times. November 20, 1940. p. 9. Retrieved December 30, 2011. Once one of the highest salaried actresses in the motionpicture industry. May McAvoy disclosed yesterday in divorcing Maurice G. Cleary. former banker, that of late she was forced to seek financial aid from the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
  9. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 34, Ideal Publishers
  10. ^ Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  11. ^ "Walk Of Fame Uses Plenty Of Celebrity Footprints". Record-Journal. August 13, 1989. Retrieved December 30, 2011.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 May 2023, at 03:21
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