Florence Vidor-Heifetz

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Florence Vidor-Heifetz (Arto)

Birthplace: Houston, TX, United States
Death: November 03, 1977 (82)
Pacific Palisades, CA, U.S.
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John F. Arto and Ida Arto
Ex-wife of King Wallis Vidor and Jascha Heifetz
Mother of Suzanne Parry; Private and Robert Heifetz

Occupation: Silent movies actress
Managed by: Yigal Burstein
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Florence Vidor-Heifetz

Quite renown in her day, Florence Vidor rose to fame in the 1921 film Hail the Woman. Movie fans witnessed the great photogenic beauty but not the Southern-bred tones of the silent star, for she abruptly left the silver screen after her first disastrous attempt at a talking picture. Vidor is best remembered for her roles in Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle (1924) and the highly romanticized Revolutionary War melodrama Barbara Frietchie (1924).

She was born Florence Arto on July 23, 1895 in Houston, Texas, the daughter of John F. Arto, a realtor, and his wife Ida. Educated under both the public and finishing school systems, she was also a student at the Convent of the Sacred Heart for a time. Her fate was sealed after an eventful but happenstance meeting of two local aspiring filmmakers -- Edward Sedgwick and King Vidor. Vidor, a freelance photographer, cast Florence in his very first two-reel picture, although she had no real designs on being an actress. The two went on to become a romantic item and married in 1915. They would have one child, Suzanne, in 1919. King set his sites on Hollywood and the couple made the big move financing their trip by filming travelogue footage for the Ford Motor company.

Settling in Santa Monica, both husband and wife soon found employment at the Vitagraph studio. Florence knew actress Corinne Griffith from her days in Houston and was introduced around the sets. The studio was quite taken by her exquisite beauty and quickly signed her to a contract, starting with some minor roles in such comedy shorts as The Yellow Girl (1916) and Curfew at Simpton Center (1916). In the meantime, husband King sought work as a scriptwriter and occasional movie extra.

The first of Florence's film roles to attract attention was the tragic seamstress in Fox's 1917 production of A Tale of Two Cities. Audiences took notice and the attractive brunette was immediately promoted to leading lady status opposite such established stars as Sessue Hayakawa and chic "drag" performer Julian Eltinge. A frequent co-star alongside Hayakawa, they appeared together in Hashimura Togo (1917), The Secret Game (1917) and The White Man's Law (1918), among others. For the popular Eltinge, who often outdressed his leading ladies, the actress graced the comedies The Countess Charming (1917) and The Widow's Might (1918). Within a short time Florence was starring in quality pictures for both William C. de Mille and brother Cecil B. DeMille, but still preferred to work for husband King who had by this time established himself as a formidable director after opening his own studio in 1919.

A mature, opulent presence, Florence became a huge star under her husband's guidance operating under the banners of King Vidor Productions and Florence Vidor Productions. With such silent classics as The Other Half (1919), Poor Relations (1919), The Family Honor (1920), The Jack-Knife Man (1920), Real Adventure (1922), Dusk to Dawn (1922) and Conquering the Woman (1922), Florence came to the forefront. Her best regarded film of that period, was King's comedy-drama Alice Adams (1923), which was remade successfully a decade or so later by Katharine Hepburn. That following year (1924) she and King also divorced. Florence went on to appear for other well-known directors, notably Ernst Lubitsch, in such glossy pictures as The Marriage Circle (1924) and The Patriot (1928). She also portrayed the famous female Revolutionary War figure Barbara Frietchie (1924), but actually earned most of her kudos specializing in sophisticated comedy. She was well represented in that genre with the films Marry Me (1925), The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (1926) and The Magnificent Flirt (1928). Her stylish humor coupled with a charming sensitivity put her squarely on top throughout most of the 1920s opposite such other well-tailored charmers as Adolphe Menjou, Clive Brook and William Powell.

Florence's first major talking film would also become her last. The unhappy experience and end result of working on Chinatown Nights (1929), which used highly experimental sound equipment, was enough for her to leave films altogether. Moreover, divorced from Vidor, Florence had married a second time to the famed violinist Jascha Heifetz in 1928, and preferred instead to raise a family. The couple went on to have two children. Following her divorce from Heifetz in 1946, Florence continued to remain completely out of the limelight. She later resided in Pacific Palisades, California, and stayed there for the remainder of her life, succumbing to heart failure in 1977 at age 82.


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Florence Vidor-Heifetz's Timeline

July 23, 1895
Houston, TX, United States
December 26, 1918
Age 23
California, United States
Age 36
November 3, 1977
Age 82
Pacific Palisades, CA, U.S.
Age 81