Born in Sculcoates, Kingston upon Hull in 1903 (although she later would claim 1904 or 1905 as her year of birth, including on her petition for naturalization as a United States citizen, giving 1904 as the year), Mackaill lived with her father after her parents separated when she was around eleven years old. She attended Thoresby Primary School. As a teenager, Mackaill ran away to London to pursue a stage career as an actress.
At age 16, she danced in Joybelles at London's HIppodrome and worked in Paris acting in a few minor Pathé films. She met a Broadway stage choreographer who persuaded her to migrate to New York City, where aged 17 she became active in the Ziegfeld Follies, dancing in his Midnight Frolic review, and befriended future motion picture actresses Marion Davies and Nita Naldi.
By 1920, Mackaill had begun making the transition from "Follies Girl" to film actress. That same year she appeared in her first film, a Wilfred Noy-directed mystery, The Face at the Window. Mackaill also appeared in several comedies of 1920 opposite actor Johnny Hines. In 1921, she appeared opposite Anna May Wong, Noah Beery and Lon Chaney in the Marshall Neilan-directed drama Bits of Life. In the following years, Mackaill would appear opposite such popular actors as Richard Barthelmess, Rod La Rocque, Colleen Moore, John Barrymore, George O'Brien, Bebe Daniels, Milton Sills and Anna Q. Nilsson.
Mackaill rose to leading-lady status in the drama The Man Who Came Back (1924), opposite rugged matinee idol George O'Brien. Her role of the nightclub chanteuse Marcelle catapulted Mackaill into a genuine Hollywood star. In 1924, she also starred in the western film The Mine with the Iron Door, shot on location outside of Tucson, Arizona. That same year, the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers of the United States presented Mackaill with one of its WAMPAS Baby Stars awards, which each year honored thirteen young women whom the association believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom. Other notable recipients of the award in 1924 were Clara Bow, Julanne Johnston and Lucille Ricksen. Her career continued to flourish throughout the remainder of the 1920s, as she made a smooth transition to sound with the part-talkie The Barker (1928).
Later career and retirement
In September 1928, First National Pictures was acquired by Warner Bros., and her contract with First National was not renewed in 1931. Her most memorable role of this era was the 1932 Columbia Pictures B film release Love Affair (1932) with a then little-known Humphrey Bogart as her leading man. She made several films for MGM, Paramount and Columbia before retiring in 1937, to care for her ailing mother.
In 1955, Mackaill moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. She had fallen in love with the islands while filming His Captive Woman (1929). Mackaill lived at the luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel on the beach at Waikiki as a sort of celebrity-in-residence and enjoyed swimming in the ocean nearly every day.
Mackaill was married three times. Her first marriage was to German film director Lothar Mendes, on November 17, 1926. They divorced in August 1928. On November 4, 1931, she married radio singer Neil Albert Miller. They divorced in February 1934. Her third and final marriage was to horticulturist Harold Patterson in June 1947. She filed for divorce in December 1948.
Mackaill had no children.
Naturalization as United States citizen
Mackaill resided in Honolulu, Hawaii, during the last 35 years of her life. She died there of liver failure in her room at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on August 12, 1990. She was cremated and her ashes scattered off Waikiki Beach.
|1920||The Face at the Window|
|Torchy's Millions||Short film|
|1921||Torchy's Promotion||Short film|
|Bits of Life||Lost film|
|The Lotus Eater||Uncredited||Lost film|
|1922||Isle of Doubt||Eleanor Warburton|
|A Woman's Woman||Sally Plummer|
|The Streets of New York||Sally Ann|
|The Inner Man||Sally|
|1923||Mighty Lak' a Rose||Rose Duncan||Lost film|
|The Broken Violin||Constance Morley|
|The Fighting Blade||Thomsine Musgrove|
|The Fair Cheat||Camilla|
|His Children's Children||Sheila|
|1924||The Next Corner||Elsie Maury||Lost film|
|What Shall I Do?||Jeanie Andrews|
|The Man Who Came Back||Marcelle|
|The Painted Lady||Violet|
|The Mine with the Iron Door||Marta Hillgrove|
|1925||The Bridge of Sighs||Linda Harper||Lost film|
|One Year to Live||Marthe||Lost film|
|The Making of O'Malley||Lucille Thayer||Lost film|
|Shore Leave||Connie Martin|
|Joanna||Joanna Manners||Lost film|
|The Dancer of Paris||Consuelo Cox||Lost film|
|1926||Ranson's Folly||Mary Cahill|
|Subway Sadie||Sadie Hermann||Lost film|
|Just Another Blonde||Jeanne Cavanaugh||Alternative title: The Girl from Coney Island|
|1927||The Lunatic at Large||Beatrix Staynes||Lost film|
|Convoy||Sylvia Dodge||Lost film|
|Smile, Brother, Smile||Mildred Marvin||Lost film|
|The Crystal Cup||Gita Carteret||Lost film|
|Man Crazy||Clarissa Janeway||Lost film|
|1928||Ladies' Night in a Turkish Bath||Helen Slocum|
|Lady Be Good||Mary||Lost film|
|The Whip||Lady Diana|
|Waterfront||Peggy Ann Andrews|
|1929||His Captive Woman||Anna Janssen|
|Children of the Ritz||Angela Pennington||Lost film|
|Two Weeks Off||Kitty Weaver||Lost film|
|Hard to Get||Bobby Martin||Lost film|
Alternative title: Classified
|The Great Divide||Ruth Jordan|
|The Love Racket||Betty Brown||Lost film|
|1930||Strictly Modern||Kate||Lost film|
|The Flirting Widow||Celia|
|The Office Wife||Anne Murdock|
|Bright Lights||Louanne||Alternative title: Adventures in Africa|
|1931||Once a Sinner||Diana Barry|
|Kept Husbands||Dorothea "Dot" Parker Brunton|
|Their Mad Moment||Emily Stanley||Alternative title: Basquerie|
|The Reckless Hour||Margaret "Margie" Nichols|
|Safe in Hell||Gilda Carlson - aka Gilda Erickson|
|1932||Love Affair||Carol Owen|
|No Man of Her Own||Kay Everly|
|1933||Neighbors' Wives||Helen McGrath|
|Curtain at Eight||Lola Cresmer||Alternative title: Backstage Mystery|
|The Chief||Dixie Dean|
|1934||Picture Brides||Mame Smith|
|1937||Bulldog Drummond at Bay||Doris Thompson|
|1953||Studio One in Hollywood||Episode: "The Magic Lantern"|
|Hawaii Five-O||Mrs. Pelcher
|Episode 202: "Target–A Cop"; |
Episode 271: "School for Assassins"
- Dorothy Mackaill birth registration (2nd Quarter (April-May-June), 1903, England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915; accessed May 19, 2018.
- Dorothy Mackaill entry, 1911 England Census, search.ancestrylibrary.com; accessed May 19, 2018.
- Slide, Anthony (2010). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813137452. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- Photoplay: The Aristocrat of Motion Picture Magazines. Photoplay Magazine Publishing Company. 1923.
- Jewelers' Circular. 1920.
- Motion Picture. Macfadden-Bartell. 1923.
- Shackleton, Kay. "Dorothy Mackaill". silenthollywood.com.
- Hughes, Laurence A. (1924). The Truth about the Movies. Hollywood publishers, Incorporated.
- Lowe, Denise (January 27, 2014). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-71896-3.
- "Deaths". USA Today. August 14, 1990. p. 2A.
- Los Angeles Times, August 15, 1990
- Honolulu Advertiser, May 11, 2008.
- Rhodes, Karen (December 20, 2011). Booking Hawaii Five-O: An Episode Guide and Critical History of the 1968-1980 Television Detective Series. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-8666-3.
- "Star Takes Time Off To Be Married". The Border Cities Star. November 18, 1926. p. 1. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- "Divorce For Movie Actress". Reading Eagle. August 3, 1928. p. 4. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- "Dorothy Mackaill Wed; Screen Star and Radio Singer Married in Arizona". The New York Times. November 4, 1931.
- "Nagging Charge Wins Divorce". The Southeast Missourian. February 17, 1934. p. 1. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- "Orchid Beau Wins Dorothy Mackaill". Milwaukee Sentinel. March 3, 1947. p. 1. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- "Miss Mackaill Marries Was Former Actress". The Hartford Courant. June 14, 1947. p. 3.
- "Fight to Unseat Taft Planned". Los Angeles Times. December 31, 1948. p. 4.
- "Ancestry Library Edition". ancestrylibrary.com. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
- "Ancestry Library Edition". ancestrylibrary.com. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
- Obituary, The New York Times, August 16, 1990; retrieved January 22, 2018.
- Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dorothy Mackaill.|