Mary Ellis, Opera and Broadway star

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Mary Ellis, Opera and Broadway star's Geni Profile

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May Belle Elsas

Also Known As: "Mary Ellis", "Mary E. Roberts"
Birthdate: (105)
Birthplace: New York, New York, New York, United States
Death: January 30, 2003 (105)
London, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Herman Elsas and Caroline Elsas
Wife of Jock Muir Stewart Robinson
Ex-wife of Louis Goetter Bernheimer; Edwin Harris Knopf and Basil Sydney
Sister of Lucille Emptage

Occupation: Opera singer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mary Ellis, Opera and Broadway star

May Belle Elsas, daughter of Herman Elsas and Caroline "Carrie" Reinhardt, was also known as Mary Ellis. She was born June 15, 1897 in New York City. Her mother was a pianist, her father was a paper manufacturer.

May had singing talent and studied opera at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, beginning in 1918, and appeared opposite Enrico Caruso. She later sang on Broadway, where she adopted the stage name Mary Ellis. In 1930 she moved to London, England, where she starred on the stage and in movies.

For most of the Second World War, Mary Ellis abandoned the theatre, performing welfare work in hospitals, and from time to time giving concerts to entertain members of the armed forces. She returned to the stage after the war. She continued to act until well into her 80's. In 1954, she was cast as Mrs. Erlynne in Noel Coward's musical After the Ball, but her singing voice had deteriorated drastically, and much of her music had to be cut. Coward blamed her performance for the relative failure of the show. She appeared in the 1960 movie The Three Worlds of Gulliver and made her last stage appearance in 1970, playing Mrs Warren in Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession. She appeared in 1993 in the television series Sherlock Holmes and again in 1994, playing Mary Maberley.

She was married four times and divorced three times.

  • World War I hero Louis G. Bernheimer, married in 1920, divorced.
  • Edward H. Knopf, director and film producer, and brother of publishing giant Alfred A. Knopft, divorced.
  • Basil Sydney, British film star and stage actor, married in 1929, divorced.
  • Jock Muir Stewart Robinson, who died in a rock-climbing accident. They were married in 1938. He was the love of her life and she did not remarry after his death.

Ellis published her memoirs in 1982 under the title Those Dancing Years. A further autobiography Moments of Truth followed in 1986.

Mary Ellis, born May Belle Elsas, died in London January 30, 2003, at the age of 105.


  • Bella Donna (1934)
  • All the King's Horses (1935)
  • Paris in Spring (1935)
  • Fatal Lady (1936)
  • Glamorous Night (1937)
  • The Astonished Heart (1949)
  • The Magic Box (1951)
  • The Three Worlds Of Gulliver (1960)

Links to additional material:

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Mary Ellis, Opera and Broadway star's Timeline

June 15, 1897
New York, New York, New York, United States
January 30, 2003
Age 105
London, United Kingdom