Todd Gault's Movie Serial Experience

Todd Gault's Film Serial Experience: Movie serials, cliffhangers and reviews. A gallery of movie serial stars.
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Celebrities like Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears need to start paying attention to bad career moves made by earlier celebrities before they end up blowing their careers so badly they can't be repaired anymore. Madge Bellamy is a perfect example of what not to do when you are at the height of your career.

A Broadway actress, she got her big break when she replaced Helen Hayes in Dear Brutus. This success lead to her being signed by Fox where she became one of their biggest stars in the twenties with films like Lorna Doone (1924) and The Iron Horse (1924). Fox specifically picked her for their first talking picture Mother Knows Best (1928).

Then came Bellamy's big ego induced misstep. Fox had bought the rights to the stage play The Trial of Mary Dugan specifically for Bellamy, but in a move that would later be imitated by Bela Lugosi with similar results, she refused to do the film. The end result was that the part was given to contract player Norma Shearer, who rode it's success onto bigger films in the thirties, while Bellamy was labeled as difficult and dropped by Fox.

Bellamy's career never really recovered. She did get a few good parts, such as the independently produced horror film White Zombie (1932) with ironically fellow bad judgment star Bela Lugosi. But mostly she had supporting roles in films like Riot Squad (1933), Charlie Chan in London (1934) and Under Your Spell (1936) before her film career petered out.

During this time she also made one serial, playing Buck Jones' leading lady in Gordon of Ghost City (1933), battling Jones' perennial adversary Walter Miller and his nasty band of cattle rustlers.

Bellamy would again come to the attention of the movie going public in the forties when she made headlines when she shot her millionaire boyfriend A Stanford Murphy when he told her he was marrying someone else. Sounds like something that would happen to a starlet from today, and not the kind of publicity an actress wants to get.

Before her death she published her memoirs, entitled Darling of the 20's.

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