Carmel Myers

Though she is little remembered today, silent screen star Carmel Myers had a high-flying career in her heyday and was ranked among the screen’s most glamorous and enticing vamps. She was born at the turn of the century in San Francisco, the daughter of immigrant parents. Her father, a rabbi, emigrated from Australia and her mother from Austria. Her older brother, Zion Myers, would grow up to become a successful writer and director in Hollywood. The family moved to Los Angeles when she was in her early teens and her father, an acquaintance of director D.W. Griffith, advised Griffith on the biblical scenes for his movie Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916), for which Carmel received a bit role as a dancer.

Signed by Universal, Carmel rose quickly up the ranks appearing with Rudolph Valentino in A Society Sensation (1918) and All Night (1918). She later branched out and worked for other studios. She appeared in her most prestigious film over at MGM. In the epic extravaganza Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925), she portrayed Iras, the evil Egyptian seductress out to snare both Ramon Navarro and Francis X. Bushman. Outrageously adorned, she was a tremendous hit and MGM signed her up for their pictures The Devil’s Circus (1926) and Tell It to the Marines (1926), with each showcase striving to outdo the costumes she wore for “Ben-Hur.”

Carmel managed the transition into talkies but, due to her age, started appearing more and more in support roles until she was left with nothing but bits. In the 1950s she tried television and made her debut in July 1951 with an interview show called, fittingly, The Carmel Myers Show (1951), in which she bantered with such show biz elite as Richard Rodgers and Sigmund Romberg, but the show lasted only one season. Married three times, she turned to real estate and also founded Carmel Myers, Inc. in which she distributed French fragrances. She died on November 9, 1980.

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