Wallace Reid

Miscellaneous Press Coverage

Motography, 18 January 1913
Wallace Reid, director of one of the "Flying A" companies, sustained severe injuries to his left leg when, on horseback, he was giving chase to a runaway on the boulevard one afternoon recently. His horse fell with the rider beneath it. Mr. Reid and Miss Lillian Christy, leading woman of the company, and been at the plaza and were about to return uptown. The two horses were untied when that of Miss Christy's dashed away. Mr. Reid was immediately astride his own and giving chase to the runaway. He was in a wild gallop about a block from the plaza when the animal lost its footing on the pavement and fell, carrying its rider with it. Mr. Reid's left leg was pinned beneath his mount and he suffered a severe sprain of the left ankle. The runaway stopped of its own accord upon overtaking other "Flying A" horses which it had started to follow. Mr. Reid's injuries did not interfere with the direction of his company, although he will not be able to wear a shoe on the injured foot for several days.
[This injury continued to bother Reid for the remainder of his life, and is referred to in the series of articles written by his wife.]

New York Telegraph, March 1919
Nearly every member of the Wallace Reid company was injured in an accident last Monday [2 March 1919] in northern California, when a train caboose, carrying the Reid company of players, jumped the tracks on a trestle bridge near Arctas and turned over. Wallace Reid sustained a three-inch scalp wound, which required six stitches to close. Grace Darmond and others in the company suffered similar cuts and bruises...
[This is the head injury for which Reid was given morphine to ease the pain.]

Variety, 25 November 1920
Had Dope For Sale
Los Angeles: Thomas H. Tyner, alias Claude Walton, alias Bennie Walton, was taken into custody here on a local lot with seven bundles of heroin on his person, according to the arresting officer. He was arraigned before U.S. Commissioner Long and held for $1,000 bail for a preliminary examination. It is said Tyner declared he was delivering the dope to one of the best known male picture stars on the coast and that it had been the second time he was engaged to deliver to the same star, whose wife, in the hope of having him break the habit, informed the authorities.

Los Angeles Herald, 25 May 1921
Trailing a suspect in a taxicab to the home of a prominent actor in Hollywood, three officers today took into custody a man giving the name of Joe Woods, 34, said by them to be a notorious narcotic distributor, and confiscated $1000 worth of morphine. Woods was booked at the city jail on a charge of violating the state poison law and was held on default of $500 bail pending arraignment before Police Judge George H. Richardson. Inspectors Fred Borden and Peoples of the state board of pharmacy and Detective Sergeants O'Brien and Yarrow of the police narcotic squad, nabbed Woods, according to records at detective headquarters. Reports received by the state and city officers indicated the suspect was active in the unlawful distribution of narcotics. They followed him in a police automobile to Hollywood, they say, and took him into custody in the pretentious home of the actor while, it is charged, he was attempting to sell his wares. According to the police, Woods, who is well known to them as a narcotic peddler, recently finished serving a term at the county jail after being found guilty of violating a federal law in the unlawful distribution of narcotics. The officers who arrested Woods declined to reveal the name of the actor. It was explained by them that the actor was neither an addict nor a distributor, and played no part in the arrest of the suspect.

Variety, 23 September 1921
...It is known the wife of one of the most popular of the younger male stars has time and again had the peddlers of dope supplying her husband arrested, but she has been unable to get her husband to break his habit...

New York Times, 26 August 1922
Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Reid to Adopt Child
Los Angeles: Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Reid petitioned the Superior Court today for permission to adopt Betty Mummert, 3 years old, whose parents have consented to the adoption. Mrs. Reid is known to the screen as Dorothy Davenport.
[It was rumored in Hollywood that this adopted daughter was in reality Wallace Reid's own daughter.]

Los Angeles Examiner, 21 October 1922
Wallace Reid Seriously Ill in Sanitarium
Wallace Reid is seriously ill. Waging a valiant battle against a combination of maladies the debonair, dashing hero of screenland was reported last night as "doing as well as could be expected." From his bedside in a sanitarium Dorothy Davenport, actress, in private life Mrs. Wallace Reid, said in effect: "Wallace is a very sick man. It is true that his condition is serious but he is not dying, as was the rumor this afternoon." Attending physicians and Miss Davenport announced that the dangerous illness is a combination of a nervous breakdown and an eye disorder known in cinema circles as "kleig eye." "Kleig eye," it was explained, is similar to "snow blindness" and is brought on by long and continued exposure of the eyes to powerful batteries of calcium lights used in moving pictures. The stricken screen star, Miss Davenport said, has been in ill health for several months because of overwork and the eye malady. The combination proved too much for his physique Wednesday and he suffered a "complete breakdown." Reid has appeared in more pictures than any male star in the studios here, his friends assert, and his eyes, never strong, failed completely about two weeks ago. For several days he was blind, they say, but during the last week his eyes grew stronger, but his nervousness was accentuated. The climax came when he started to work on the Lasky "lot" a week ago on a picture known as "Nobody's Money." He was cast for the lead, but was unable to continue after the first day or so. Scenes in which he was not scheduled to appear were "shot" while the supporting company waited for his recovery. But yesterday it was announced that Jack Holt had been signed to play the lead in "Nobody's Money." Reid requested and obtained a four weeks' vacation from the Lasky Corporation which ended Wednesday. During that period he camped and hunted in the mountains in an attempt to stem the onrushing nervous breakdown.

Los Angeles Times, 16 December 1922
Wallace Reid, international screen idol and hero of scores of film plays, has voluntarily given up the use of narcotics and is now playing out the most heroic role of his life in a Hollywood sanitarium where his determined attempt to win out over drugs and whisky have brought him to so low an ebb of physical resistance that his life is in danger.

Two months ago Reid determined to break himself of the use of stimulants. Yesterday members of his family talked freely to The Times with the purpose of quieting the many false rumors which have grown and spread from coast to coast during the last two years--rumors which have run the gamut of sensationalism from tales of hopeless addiction to morphine and heroin to widely spread and unfounded reports that the Lasky star had reached a stage of partial blindness and equally untrue tales that his condition had become such that psychopathic treatment had been found necessary.

The truth of the situation is that Mr. Reid is perilously weak and suffering from collapse and a high temperature: he is in a sanitarium in Hollywood under the care of two doctors and constantly under the surveillance of two male nurses, but his determination to stage a "come- back" both personally and on the screen is unshaken, and his will power and cheerfulness are unimpaired.

Wild liquor parties at the Reid home, called "more like a road-house" by Mrs. Davenport, featured Mr. Reid's slow decline to where he was forced to rely upon stimulants to carry him through his acting on the Famous Players-Lasky lot in Hollywood. The parties, according to Mrs. Davenport, were made up in a large part of "friends," not even invited by her son-in-law. It is these persons who are chiefly to blame, she said.

Almost three years ago members of the Reid household first noticed the change in the star's actions, they declared yesterday. The change dated from a severe injury sustained by Mr. Reid while he was filming a picture near San Francisco. A large rock falling from an overhanging bank struck Reid on the back of the head and knocked him out. Eleven stitches were taken by physicians in the actor's scalp.

From the date of the accident to Reid's general break-down last September, his family yesterday traced his decline. Party after party in which liquor flowed like water marked the path. From whisky the trail branched to narcotics and ended just two months ago when Mr. Reid decided to fight it out and win his way back...

From the bedside of her husband, Mrs. Dorothy Davenport Reid went to the home of a friend and there made a brief statement. "My husband is a sick, sick boy," Mrs. Reid declared. "I don't know if he will recover, but he has broken his habit and won his fight. He made this fight of his own free will and has won it by the strength of his own mind and will. I know that he will come back...I have never been able to learn how much morphine was supplied a day by the peddlers to poor Wally, but he bought the drug here and also in the East. He had to have it. Then some time ago he fought his first battle with the habit and we all thought that he had won, but he was unable to shake clear and was unable to do so until about two months ago, when he left the studio, went into the hills and won his fight. One week after he returned to us he broke down. Now he is fighting for his life."...

From Mrs. Davenport, the wife's mother, the story of the plucky struggle was learned...Mrs. Davenport declared, "For months before Wally went to the sanitarium he was unable to sleep at night. For hours he remained awake in bed and always Dorothy, heavy eyed, sat by him and soothed him like a mother. He seemed to depend upon her and she did not fail him. He would awaken her in the early morning hours and she would stroke his hair and croon him to sleep. "Dorothy fought and lost, and then kept on fighting and won. The big struggle is over. Now we must nurse Wallace back to health."

The future for the film star, according to friends and others employed in the Famous Players-Lasky studio is uncertain. It is said that he is expected to be back at work the second week in January. Nothing has been officially given out concerning Mr. Reid except that he has been ill from "overwork and a bad case of Klieg eyes."...

Los Angeles Times, 17 December 1922
...[Will] Hays attempted during the course of the afternoon to get into communication with Jesse Laksy, who finally telephoned him at his Ambassador suite and declared that he would refuse to issue any statement regarding Mr. Reid. Mr. Lasky reminded Mr. Hays that last June he had detailed a physician and a nurse to attend Mr. Reid and watch him constantly, everywhere he went from the cellar to the bathroom. This was at the time of Mr. Reid's first breakdown...

New York Times, 19 December 1922
Los Angeles: ...In an interview in the Los Angeles Examiner, Mrs. Reid told just how near death her husband had been. "He thought he would die the other night," she said. "He was so brave about it, poor boy. For three nights he had expected to die. He isn't afraid to die, but he wants so much to live for Billy and Betty and me," referring to their son and adopted daughter. Mrs. Reid, in describing his condition just before the present breakdown, said that he wept and said: "How did I happen to let myself go? Why couldn't I have stopped long ago? I thought I was so strong; I thought I knew myself so well; I can't understand it."

In an interview given to The Examiner at a Hollywood sanitarium, one of Reid's physicians said: "Mr. Reid has been near death for the last five or six days. His temperature has repeatedly reached 103 and his pulse 130. His heart action is irregular and weak. He has fainted on an average of three times daily and has lost seventy pounds. Laboratory finds at the present time indicate he is suffering either from a condition of complete exhaustion or from influenza. A re-infection of influenza is possible at any time and could cause his death. This is not anticipated by attending physicians, but must be and is being considered. His present illness has no connection with overindulgences in alcohol or narcotics, although such indulgences have undoubtedly undermined his strength and system in months gone by."

Harry Carr, Los Angeles Times, 24 December 1922
...Some months ago there was formed an organization called the "Federated Arts," which was made up of directors, camera men, scenario writers, electricians, etc. The stated purpose was to boycott any picture stars who were not conducting themselves in a manner to bring credit to the industry. Everybody understood that it was directed at Wally Reid and two or three other stars. A delegation went to Lasky and asked him to remove Wally Reid from the films - at least, until he cured himself of the dope habit. According to the story told by the survivors, Mr. Lasky promised to investigate, but did nothing. The truth is that Reid presented himself at "the front office" with heated denials, threats and demands for an investigation. He offered to allow physicians to examine him, etc. So the affair came to nothing. After that, an informal scheme was proposed by some of Wally's friends to forcibly kidnap him and take him to some hospital for treatment. This also fell through. The remnants of the Federated Arts have burned with the rebuff ever since...

San Francisco Examiner, 3 January 1923
...Simultaneously with Barker's appearance before the commissioner in Oakland word reached here from Los Angeles that State and Federal narcotic agents had raided the sanitarium of "Dr." C. B. Blessing in that city, which advertises the "Barker Cure" as its principal attraction. Correspondence between Barker and Blessing was seized, as well as records of persons treated in the southern institution. Prominent in the correspondence was the name of Juanita Hansen, motion picture actress, to whom reference was made as a former patient in the Barker sanitarium at Oakland.... A letter from Barker to Blessing was found in which the Oakland "reformer" told of the "kick" he had gotten out of seeing Juanita Hansen on the screen in a motion picture, knowing that "she was then in bed in our place." ...The entry of the Blessing establishment in regard to Wallace Reid showed that he entered the southern sanitarium last October 19. His age is given as 31, birthplace as Missouri, height 6 feet 2 inches, and weight 156 pounds. Reid's normal weight is 190. The record stated that Reid's use of drug, at the time of his admittance, was three to six grains of morphine a day. The record concluded: "Treatment of morphinism for two weeks and partial withdrawal accomplished. Reid later entered another sanitarium, where he is recently reported as improved in health.
[This item seems to contradict Mrs. Reid's written statement that Reid had been abstaining from drugs for at least six weeks before his admission to the sanitarium. And she also strongly implies that his admission to the sanitarium was not for drug addiction but for dysentery, which is also contradicted here.]

Louis Weadock, Los Angeles Examiner, 19 January 1923
Screen Idol Succumbs to Drug Curse
Los Angeles, January 18: "Wally" Reid has played his last scene. After a long, hard fight against odds greater than those that he overcame in the moving pictures in which he starred for eight years, he died in a Hollywood sanitarium this afternoon, his hand in the hand of his wife. The doctor's certificate says he died from congestion of the lungs, but everybody who knew him knows that the drug habit killed "Wally" Reid.... During the forty-eight hours preceding his death she [Dorothy Davenport Reid] did not leave his room in the Banksia Place Sanitarium. During the last six weeks she had been out of his sight only for a few minutes at a time, because whenever he awoke from his troubled spells of sleep his first words always were "Hello, Dot," and his first gesture was to reach out for her hand. Until a very few days ago she and Dr. G. S. Herbert, who was his attending physician, were so confident that Wally had won his fight that they agreed to the proposal of Jesse L. Lasky, by whom he was employed, that he begin work in a picture, shooting of which was to begin July 1. But although he had not touched narcotic drugs for weeks the ravages which their use had made upon his remarkable constitution were so great that when a relapse came early today he had no stamina left with which to pull him through. Wally was only thirty-one years old.... Only once during his last illness did Wallace Reid exhibit any interest in religious matters. That was when he asked if he might have a Christian Scientist practitioner. His wife and her mother, both of whom are Christian Scientists, assured him that he could, but by this time he had changed his mind. Funeral services for him will be held here Saturday. They will be in charge of the Elks. While the services are in progress every moving picture studio in the country will be closed as a mark of respect to his memory. The body will be cremated in accordance with a wish of the deceased.

Louis Weadock, Los Angeles Examiner, 21 January 1923
Los Angeles, Jan. 20: In a bronze urn, which he himself had designed, there rest tonight the ashes of Wally Reid. His body was cremated late this afternoon following funeral services that were attended by more people than have assembled at a funeral here for a long time. Not only was the First Congregational Church, which is one of the largest church edifices in the city, packed to the doors, but in the streets near it the crowds were so large that the police barred automobiles from those streets for a distance of two blocks.... In the church during the service were, almost without exception, all of the men and women whose names are the best known in the world of moving pictures..."Fatty" Arbuckle...Pola Negri and Charles Chaplin and Harold Lloyd...Bebe Daniels...Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Sid Grauman...a complete list would fill columns. Drawn and haggard, the widow [Dorothy Davenport Reid] sat with her mother [Alice Davenport], who, like herself, had been at one time a celebrated actress and who, like her, had given up her professional career that she might devote herself to making a home for her husband. Reid's mother could not cross the continent in time to be present at the funeral, nor could the Reids' closest friend, Adela Rogers St. Johns, the writer, who is in British Columbia, Canada, and could not get here in time...

Movie Weekly, 18 August 1923
Real Dramas of Hollywood
She heard of her dashing husband's affairs from time to time. She even indulgently answered his "mash notes" when he was too lazy to write the letters himself, which he frequently was. "Here are some more letters from mushy dames!" he would laugh, and throw the letters into her lap. But one night came something more serious.

The wife was alone in the house, except for the children, who had gone to bed. The servants, Japanese, went home at night. Came a rap on the door - a timid rap - and the wife wondered why the visitor did not ring the bell. But she was no coward, and besides that timid rap did not come from any burly intruder, she was sure of that. She opened the door, and there stood a girl with a baby in her arms.

It was so like a melodrama that the wife felt a horribly hysterical desire to laugh when the girl asked for her husband! "So it has come at last!" she said to herself, still with that awful clutching at her throat - the hysterical desire to laugh and weep. She knew now that she had been expecting something of this sort to happen.

The girl was crying, and looked so helpless - so utterly as a victim of her husband would look, she thought! The wife asked the girl to come in. The girl, young and very pretty and modishly dressed after a cheap fashion, brightened and came in. She felt no pang of jealousy when she looked at the girl, oddly enough, she thought to herself even then - but she felt a terrible, clutching feeling, half anger, half piercing pity, when she looked at the baby!

It was all as the wife had expected from the first moment she looked at the girl. The baby was her husband's! She never thought to doubt the girl's story. It didn't occur to her until afterward that this was odd. But the girl was so evidently miserable, heart-broken, and her claim was made in such frank, genuine, if heart-broken, fashion, that the wife had to believe her.

"I'm only an extra girl," the girl said hurriedly, after satisfying herself that her seducer was not at home, and that the wife had only pity in her heart for her. "I do love my baby so, but my mother died last week, and there is no one to care for him! Oh, my darling mamma! She did love my baby so! She was so good to me! Some mothers would have been cross, but she never was. She was just sorry! All the time, she was just sorry. And she loved my baby! Now--I think you just must - you just must adopt my baby and..." The wife started back. She had expected a call for money, but not for this. "Yes," the girl said firmly. "There isn't any other way. I've thought it all out. My baby cannot go to a foundling asylum. I couldn't bear that - nor for anybody but his own father to have him!" The wife was sunk in thought. The baby was a dear baby. "I'll kill myself if you don't!" the girl threatened desperately.

"Yes, we'll do it!" the wife suddenly decided.

What mixed motives there were beneath that decision! It was all generosity on first impulse. Then followed the subtle thought that her husband could never look at the little one without remembering his fault! And he should care for it, and pay its bills. Her husband would not dare refuse, she knew that. For the girl would certainly make a scandal. The girl promised never to see her baby again. As for herself, she had long passed the stage where she could feel any active resentment against the girl. She was only one of many, she thought drearily. And the baby was a dear baby!

So the little one found a home. And the child will never know the difference between its own mother and this foster one!


Wallace Reid's Struggle Against Drug Addiction

Wife Pens Dramatic Story of Wallace Reid's Drug Ruin

The Life Story of Wallace Reid: The Tragedy of an American Idol

Miscellaneous Press Coverage

Wallace Reid Photo Gallery