Conway Tearle

This West Point-educated actor was a tall, dark and handsome American co-star who romanced some of the most illustrious femme stars ever to appear on the silent silver screen. Conway Tearle was born in New York City on May 17, 1878 to a family of entertainers. Christened Frederick Levy, his father, Jules, was a jazz musician, and mother Marianne Conway, an American actress. Divorced when Conway was quite young, his mother subsequently married British Shakespearean actor/theatre manager Osmond Tearle and Conway was raised in England from the age of 10. He gained experience on his stepfather’s stage and was alternately billed as Frederick Levy and Frederick Conway before settling on the name Conway Tearle. Having returned to the U.S. in 1905, he made his Broadway debut with “Abigail” that same year and would make a name for himself as a reliable romancer for nearly a decade before attempting films in 1914. His two half brothers, Godfrey Tearle and Malcolm Tearle would also become actors on both the stage and screen. Conway’s more famous films were deemed “women’s pictures” where he appeared meticulously as a dashing hero or ardent lover. Among his more notable were Helene of the North (1915) opposite Marguerite Clark, The Foolish Virgin (1916) and The Common Law (1916) both starring Clara Kimball Young, Stella Maris (1918) with Mary Pickford, A Virtuous Vamp (1919) with Constance Talmadge, She Loves and Lies (1920) and The Eternal Flame (1922), both opposite Norma Talmadge, Lilies of the Field (1924) featuring Corinne Griffith, and Dancing Mothers (1926) starring Clara Bow. Conway made a smooth transition into sound pictures and remained a leading star or prime support in “B” level pictures. He ended his film career spurned by Mae West in Klondike Annie (1936) and with a lesser role in the lavish production Romeo and Juliet (1936) starring Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard. He died of a heart attack at age 60.

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