Dorothy Sebastian

Is your surname Sebastian?

Research the Sebastian family

Dorothy Sebastian's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Related Projects

Dorothy Sebastian

Birthplace: Birmingham, AL, USA
Death: Died in Los Angeles, CA, USA
Immediate Family:

Ex-wife of William Lawrence Boyd

Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Dorothy Sebastian

Dorothy Sebastian (April 26, 1903 – April 8, 1957) was an American film and stage actress.

Early life and career

Sebastian was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. In her youth she hoped to be a dancer and later a film actress. Her family frowned on both ambitions, however, so she fled to New York at the age of 15. Upon her arrival in New York City, Sebastian's southern drawl was thick enough to "cut with a knife". She followed around theatrical agents before returning at night to a $12-a-month room, after being consistently rejected.

Her first contact in Hollywood was Robert Kane, who gave her a film test at United Studios. She performed in George White's Scandals with Joan Crawford and Anita Page for a popular series of MGM romantic dramas including Our Dancing Daughters (1928) and Our Blushing Brides (1930). Sebastian also appeared in 1929's Spite Marriage, wherein she was cast opposite her then-lover Buster Keaton.

Personal life

Sebastian went into semi-retirement in the mid-1930s after marrying Hopalong Cassidy star William Boyd. They wed in Las Vegas, Nevada following a romance which began on a set at Pathe Pictures. After their divorce in 1935, Sebastian attempted a comeback, appearing in much smaller parts than years before. In 1947, Sebastian married Miami Beach businessman Harold Shapiro to whom she remained married until her death.

Song writing

Dorothy is also credited with co-writing the Moon Mullican blues ballad "The leaves mustn't fall". Mullican recorded this in 1950 and 1958 and it has since become a bluegrass standard.

Court appearances

In November 1938, Sebastian was found guilty of drunk driving in a Beverly Hills, California Justice Court. She blamed her crash on a reaction of garlic with three or four glasses of wine she consumed four or five hours earlier. She was dining at the home of Buster Keaton. She told the court she believed police assumed from this she had been drinking even more recently. She was given a 30-day suspended jail sentence and paid a fine of $75.

Sebastian was denied an award of $10,000 from a San Diego court in 1940. She appeared at a Red Cross benefit in San Francisco in 1937, and failed to pay her hotel bill. She contended the promoter should have met the expense. An employee of the Plaza Hotel took out the suit, charging "defrauding an innkeeper". The State Supreme Court of California reversed the decision, which awarded her the money on grounds of malicious prosecution.


Sebastian died of cancer in 1957 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Dorothy Sebastian has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6655 Hollywood Blvd.

Selected filmography

view all

Dorothy Sebastian's Timeline

April 26, 1903
Birmingham, AL, USA
Age 27
Age 31
April 8, 1957
Age 53
Los Angeles, CA, USA