About Leatrice Joy
She is best known for her career in the early silent film era.
Born Leatrice Joy Zeidler in New Orleans, Louisiana, Leatrice Joy began her acting career in stock theater companies and made her film debut for the little-known small New Orleans based Nola Film Company in 1915. By 1917 she relocated to the relatively young film colony in Hollywood, California and was initially signed under contract with Samuel Goldwyn Studios where her first role was in 1917s The Pride of the Clan opposite silent screen star Mary Pickford. By 1920, Joy's career quickly gained momentum and she became a highly popular actress with the film-going public and was given leading lady status opposite such famous performers as Wallace Beery, Conrad Nagel, Nita Naldi and Irene Rich.
Joy was often cast by directors in the role of the strong-willed and independent woman, and in the liberated atmosphere of the Jazz Age Roaring Twenties solidified her public popularity, especially with women film-goers. Her close-cropped hair and somewhat boyish persona (she was several times cast as a woman mistaken for a young man) became tremendously fashionable during the era. With her increasing popularity, Joy was sought out by Cecil B. DeMille and signed to contract to Paramount Pictures in 1922 and that same year was cast in the enormously successul high-society drama Saturday Night opposite matinee idol Conrad Nagel. Joy starred in a number of successful releases for Paramount and was heavily promoted as one of DeMille's most prominent protégés.
In 1925, against the advice of studio executives, Joy parted ways with Paramount and followed DeMille to his new film studio Producers Distributing Corporation and she made a few modestly successful films for the company, including Lois Weber's last silent film The Angel of Broadway in 1927. A professional dispute ended the partnership with DeMille and Joy in 1928 and Joy was signed with MGM. Joy headlined MGM's second part-talkie effort, The Bellamy Trial in 1928, opposite Betty Bronson and Margaret Livingston.
Joy's career began to falter with the advent of talkies. It has been alleged that her career decline rested in part with her heavy southern accent that was considered unfashionable in comparison with the refined east coast diction of the newer actresses. In 1929 Joy became a freelance actress without a contract. By the early 1930s, Joy was in semi-retirement from the motion picture industry, but she later made several guest appearances in a few modestly successful films. One such appearance was in the 1951 release Love Nest, which featured a young Marilyn Monroe.
In the 1960s, Joy made an interesting appearance on the long-running game show "To Tell The Truth" (the clip can be viewed on You Tube).
In 1980, she appeared in the television documentary series Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film, and spoke about her relationship with John Gilbert.
Leatrice Joy married the enormously successful film idol John Gilbert in 1922. The union produced a daughter, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain, but the tempestuous marriage only lasted two years. The couple divorced in 1924 on the grounds of Gilbert being an alleged philanderer. Joy would later marry William S. Hook in 1931.