Biography

The sister of silent screen star Katherine MacDonald and a former photographer's model, blonde Mary MacLaren had danced in the Broadway revue The Passing Show of 1914 before making her screen debut in 1916. A favorite of pioneering woman director Lois Weber, MacLaren starred as the poor working girl in Shoes (1916) and was Marie Walcamp's maid in the anti-abortion drama Where Are My Children (1916). For another early woman director, Ida May Park, MacLaren played an actress betrayed by a Broadway wolf and reduced to living in squalor in the evocative Bread (1918) and she was a regal Anne of Austria in Fairbanks' The Three Musketeers (1921). Like most of her contemporaries, MacLaren's career waned in the 1920s and she was reduced to minor roles after the changeover to sound. After playing scores of maids, nurses and dowagers, MacLaren left films around 1948 to travel with her husband, a British military officer. Sadly, when she resurfaced in the 1970s, a newspaper reporter discovered her living in abject poverty in her once palatial Hollywood home. MacLaren's tragic story was widely reported and in her final years she became a popular guest at various silent screen revivals. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi