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Patricia Ellis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Patricia Ellis
Patricia Ellis in Bright Lights trailer.jpg
Patricia Gene O'Brien

(1915-05-20)May 20, 1915[1]
(1916-05-20)May 20, 1916[2]
(1917-05-20)May 20, 1917[3]
(1918-05-20)May 20, 1918[4]
DiedMarch 26, 1970 (aged 51)
Other namesPatricia Leftwich
OccupationAmerican film actress
Years active1932–1939
George T. O'Maley
(m. 1941)

Patricia Ellis (born Patricia Gene O'Brien; died March 26, 1970) was an American film actress of the 1930s.

Early years

Born in Birmingham, Michigan,[4][5][6] most likely in 1915[7] (although she gave her year of birth to the Social Security Administration as 1920), Ellis was the eldest of four children born to Eugene Gladstone O'Brien, a Detroit insurance salesman, and his wife, Florence Calkins.[8][9] Her parents divorced in 1929.[10]open access She was later known as Patricia Leftwich[11] after her step-father, Alexander Leftwich,[12] "an eminent New York producer of musical shows."[13] She had a step-brother, Alexander Leftwich Jr.[12] Her childhood activities included singing and dancing, and she reportedly studied French and German.[14]

A 1932 newspaper article said, "Since she was able to walk, Patricia has been familiar with the world of the theater, accompanying her father constantly to rehearsals and performances."[15] That same year, another newspaper reported, "She understudied all her father's leading women in the last few years, assisted him with lighting and costuming, and knows stage production, too."[14]

Patricia Leftwich attended Brantwood Hall School and Gardner School for Girls,[15] and began her stage career after leaving school. She took classes in studio facilities while pursuing her acting career.[16]


Ellis appeared with Chamberlain Brown's stock company at Mount Vernon, New York, and at the Riviera Theater, New York City.[when?][15]


Given a film test while appearing on stage in New York City,[13] Ellis was put under contract by Warner Bros.[15] In 1932, she had two small parts, both uncredited, in the films Three on a Match and Central Park. That same year, she was one of 14 girls chosen as WAMPAS Baby Stars; Ellis was the youngest. Her first credited role was in the 1933 film The King's Vacation, starring George Arliss and Marjorie Gateson. After that film, her career took off, with her starring mostly in lower-budget B movies, but still working steadily. She had roles in eight films in 1933, co-starring that year with James Cagney in Picture Snatcher, and in another seven in 1934. She started 1935 off with A Night at the Ritz, in which she had the lead female role, opposite William Gargan.[17]

She starred in seven films that year and another seven in 1936. Starring alongside some of Hollywood's biggest names, including James Cagney, Ricardo Cortez, and Bela Lugosi, Ellis's career was at its peak by 1937. Most of her roles were in comedy films, along with some mysteries and crime dramas, and by 1936, she was playing the female lead in almost all her films. She starred in five films that year, then only three in 1938, and finally just two in 1939.[17]


After her work in film, Ellis ventured into music, saying, "I was just getting into a rut in Hollywood. ... I want to start a new career -- singing."[18] She made a soundie in 1941. A review in the trade publication Billboard commented: "Miss Ellis isn't bad on voice and excells (sic) on appearance. Men will pay attention to her."[19] In 1941, she and Henny Youngman headlined with Blue Barron and his Orchestra at Hamid's Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey.[20] She appeared on Broadway in Louisiana Purchase, a musical comedy.[21]

Personal life

Ellis retired in 1939, leaving Hollywood behind. On July 12, 1941,[18][22] she married George T. O'Maley, a successful businessman from Kansas City, Missouri.[23][24] She settled into private life,[25] raising her family in Kansas City. The O'Maleys had one daughter.[18]


Ellis remained married to O'Maley for the remainder of her life, dying of colon cancer[26] on March 26, 1970 in Kansas City, Missouri.[27] She was cremated.[2]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ Newspaper article from June 5, 1932 giving Patricia Ellis' age as 17,; accessed October 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved May 24, 2019 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Copy of 1930 U.S. census giving Patricia O'Brien's age as of her last birthday as 12 on April 10-11, 1930 when the census enumerator visited the household,; accessed October 3, 2021 via (
  4. ^ a b "The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 8, 1935, p.100, "Only 17, But Going Places"".
  5. ^ New York Times (March 28, 1970). "Patricia Ellis Dies; A Screen Actress". p. 27.
  6. ^ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri, pg. 37 (April 10, 1935). "Hollywood's Youngest Leading Lady".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ 1932 interview, giving Ellis's age as 17, Accessed August 1, 2022.
  8. ^ United States Bureau of the Census (1930). 15th census population, Vol. 168. p. Enumeration District 82–551, Sheet 12-A.
  9. ^ ""Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013" database with images, image 154 of 355". FamilySearch. county courthouses, Ohio. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  10. ^ Copy of divorce decree, Wayne County, Michigan: Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Docket # 163383 (April 19, 1929 date of decree or judgement)
  11. ^ Roy Liebman (January 1, 2000). The Wampas Baby Stars: A Biographical Dictionary, 1922-1934. McFarland. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-7864-0756-9.
  12. ^ a b "The Final Curtain". Billboard. January 25, 1947. p. 43. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Portrait of Young Girl On Her Way Somewhere". Utah, Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Tribune. October 30, 1932. p. 38. Retrieved December 15, 2015 – via open access
  14. ^ a b "Baby Role Irks Patricia Ellis; Grown-Up Film Parts Her Goal". North Carolina, Statesville. Statesville Record And Landmark. October 11, 1932. p. 14. Retrieved December 15, 2015 – via open access
  15. ^ a b c d "Daughter of Famous Director Is Signed by Picture Company". Montana, Butte. Montana Butte Standard. June 5, 1932. p. 23. Retrieved December 15, 2015 – via open access
  16. ^ "Takes Schoolbooks to Studio". Pennsylvania, Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Times. May 24, 1932. p. 3. Retrieved December 15, 2015 – via open access
  17. ^ a b Patricia Ellis at IMDb
  18. ^ a b c Wagner, Laura (Fall 2015). "Patricia Ellis: "I'd Like to Do Characters"". Films of the Golden Age (82): 55–56.
  19. ^ "Movie Machine Reviews: Reel 1035" (PDF). Billboard. October 25, 1941. p. 72. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "AC Trade Best in 12 Seasons" (PDF). Billboard. August 9, 1941. p. 50. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  21. ^ Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, p.8 (9 May 1941). "Patricia Ellis Gets New Broadway Musical Role".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ Patricia Ellis Weds in the East (July 15, 1941). "Los Angeles Times p. A1" – via Proquest.
  23. ^ "Join Ancestry". Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Join Ancestry". Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Join Ancestry". Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  26. ^ Death certificate for Patricia O'Maley, giving year of birth as 1920,; accessed October 3, 2021.
  27. ^ U.S. Social Security Death Index; accessed May 6, 2017.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 November 2022, at 00:47
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