Monday, October 11, 2010

Esther Ralston (1902-1994)

The American born actress got her start in vaudeville as part of a family act billed as "The Ralston Family with baby Esther" in the late 1910's (The act included herself, her father, mother and four brothers). Next step Hollywood where Esther appeared in silents beginning in the 1920's. It was her small roles in "Peter Pan" 1924 that first got her noticed. (She played Mrs. Darling) and playing the Fairy Godmother in "A Kiss For Cinderella" 1925.

The beautiful blonde got the nickname "American Venus" after starring in the film with the same title in 1926.  During Hollywood's early days actresses we're often referred to by nicknames either describing a part they played or from their looks. Clara Bow was known as "The It Girl", Lana Turner was known as "The Sweater Girl", Mary Pickford was known as "America's Sweetheart" and Lupe Velez was known as "The Mexican Spitfire" to name a few.

with Gary Cooper

Esther appeared in mostly comedies during the 1920's and transitioned from silents to the talkies in the 1930's but only got roles in B movies before retiring in 1941. She had made over 100 movies in her short career and  had spent all of her fortune by the 1950's. She found work as a salesperson at a department store and then worked for a utility company to support herself. (At the height of her career she was making up to $2,500 a week and one of Hollywood's highest paid actresses).

hand signed publicity still from personal collection and photos for a larger view

Esther Ralston was married and divorced three times. Her first two husbands we're actor/director George Webb and singer/actor Will Morgan.  She had 2 daughters and 1 son from these marriages. Ms. Ralston was cremated at the time of her death and her ashes we're given to her family and friends.
with Victor Moore in "Romance in the Rain"

 Esther Ralston Facts:
She worked in England during 1932 and upon returning to Hollywood she was loaned out to MGM by Louis B. Mayor after denying his sexual advances. (She had worked at Paramount prior to this)  This does answer the question as to why a previously successful actress would be cast in B rated movies that led to her early retirement. Studio heads had a lot of pull back in the early days and one phone call could end an actors career.

When recognized as an actress while working at a Manhattan Department store she would deny she was that Esther Ralston.

Thank you for stopping by,


  1. She was a beautiful star and I can't wait to learn more about her! Thank you for directing me to this post!

  2. FC,
    You're so welcome. Theres a good post in archives I did on Anita Page and Colleen Moore if you want to look at those I think you'd enjoy them.

    Not sure if you took a closeup look at Esther's autographed pic but that art deco pearl ring is to die for! I love her jewels in that pic.

    1. I just saw Sadie Mckey with Joan Crawford and thought Esther was stunning. I have a few pics of her from vintage movie magazines
      and I have to say she was certainly a pretty lady...