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About Lou Tellegen
Lou Tellegen (November 26, 1881 – October 29, 1934) was a Dutch-born silent film and stage actor, director and screenwriter.
Born Isidore Louis Bernard Edmon van Dommelen, he was the illegitimate child of army lieutenant Isidore Louis Bernard Edmon Tellegen (1836–1902) and Anna Maria van Dommelen.
He left his birth town Sint Oedenrode to make his stage debut in Amsterdam in 1903, and over the next few years built a reputation to the point where he was invited to perform in Paris, eventually co-starring in several roles with Sarah Bernhardt, with whom he was involved romantically. In 1910, he made his motion picture debut alongside Bernhardt in La dame aux camélias, a silent film made in France based on the play by Alexandre Dumas, fils.
In 1910, he and Bernhardt travelled to the United States, where The New York Times first published, and then retracted, the announcement of their impending marriage. (She was 37 years his senior.) Back in France, in 1912 they made their second film together, Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth (Queen Elizabeth), and the following year, Adrienne Lecouvreur. The latter is considered a lost film.
In the summer of 1913, Tellegen went to London where he produced and starred in the Oscar Wilde play, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Invited back to the United States, Tellegen worked in theatre and made his first American film in 1915, titled The Explorer, followed by The Unknown, both with Dorothy Davenport as his co-star. Considered one of the best-looking actors on screen, he followed up with three straight films starring opposite Geraldine Farrar. In 1916, he married Farrar, a well-known opera diva turned film actress, who was herself known to be the lover of Germany's Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany.
Tellegen's marriage to Farrar did not last (they divorced in 1923). Tellegen had married a total of four times, the first being a countess in 1903 (this union produced a daughter), the second to Farrar in 1916. He became an American citizen in 1918.
Later career and death
Tellegen had appeared in numerous films before his face was damaged in a fire. One of his memorable roles was as the bad guy villain in John Ford's 1926 western 3 Bad Men who wore a white hat instead of the stereotypical bad guy black hat. Fame faded, employment was not forthcoming and debt-ridden, he went bankrupt. He was diagnosed with cancer, though this information was kept from him, and he became despondent. In 1931, he wrote his autobiography Women Have Been Kind.
On October 29, 1934, while a guest in a Cudahy mansion at 1844 N. Vine St. (now the site of the Vine-Franklin underpass of the Hollywood Freeway), Tellegen locked himself in the bathroom, then shaved and powdered his face. Then while standing in front of a full-length mirror, he committed suicide by stabbing himself with a pair of sewing scissors seven times (supposedly while surrounded by newspaper clippings of his career), resulting in lurid press coverage.
When asked to comment on Tellegen's death, former wife Geraldine Farrar replied, "Why should that interest me?". Tellegen's remains were cremated and scattered at sea.
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