Marie (Koerber) Dressler

Leila Marie (Koerber) Dressler (1869 - 1934)

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Leila Marie (Marie) Dressler formerly Koerber aka Dalton, Hoppert, Hoeppert
Born in Cobourg, Northumberland, Ontario, Canadamap
Wife of — married (to ) in Greenville, Hudson, New Jersey, United Statesmap
Wife of — married about in Englandmap
Died in Santa Barbara, California, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 18 Sep 2015
This page has been accessed 859 times.

Categories: Famous Actors of the 20th Century | Comedians | Academy Award Winners of the 20th Century | This Day In History November 09 | This Day In History July 28 | Notable Canadians | American Notables.

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Biography

Leila Marie Koerber was born on November 9, 1869 in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada to her parents, Alexander Rudolph Koerber and Anna Henderson. She was the youngest of two daughters born to the Koerbers. Her older sister Bonita was born 5 years earlier. Alexander was a former military officer from the Crimean War, and had immigrated to Canada around 1851, and worked in Cobourg as a music teacher. He also played the organ at the St. Peter's Anglican Church. Anne was a musican and it seemed only natural that Marie would be inclined towards a performance art.

Marie often would stay with her father at a young age, helping him with the organ and singing in the church. She even had her first known performance in a church play at the age of 5. As she grew up, she often performed in a number of local amateur theatrical shows, which seems to have irritated her parents.

At the age of 14, she and her sister Bonita left home to pursue a career as actors. They joined the Nevada Stock Company and Marie told them she was 18. While Marie used the name Leila up till now, it was during this time that she changed her name to Marie Dressler for her film and theater career. She claims it was because her father would not allow her to use the name Koerber as a theatrical performer and that the name was based off an Aunt, but there is room to speculate. Marie stayed with the troupe for 3 years, while her sister Bonita married English playwright Richard Ganthony and left her career behind.

Marie traveled from town to town throughout the US, and after leaving the Nevada Stock Company, joined one after another theater companies until around 1891 (around age 22) when she stopped in Chicago, where she starred in a couple of productions, then chose to move to New York City. In NYC, she appeared on Broadway in 1892 and while all her productions were not completely successful, she continued to gain in popularity.

It was during this time that Maurice Barrymore recommended she pursue comedic roles. Because she was not a typical skinny model, she had always been sensitive about people laughing at her. But she took his advice and found that she was quite good at comedy. As her career began to take off, her personal life was about to change. She married George Hoppert in 1894. This marriage was not to last, and some biographers have shown their marriage over by 1896 - others by the early 1900's. There is also some evidence that they attempted to have a child together, but the child did not survive.

She continued to perform in the theater and on Broadway throughout the period from 1900 to 1920, occasionally starring in films. But she began to experience money trouble. In 1900, due to mounting bills and inconsistent income, she was forced to declare bankruptcy. She recovered, but would declare bankruptcy again in 1909. She also lost her mother in 1902 and her father in 1908. It was during this time that she met James H. Dalton. He was a businessman from the Massachusetts area who wanted to help with her career. They moved to London where they were married in 1907. Marie would find out many years later that Jim had paid off a friend to pretend to be a preacher, and so the marriage was never real.

After her failures in England, she returned home and continued to perform and tour. Her husband Jim accompanied her. By 1920, she had discovered his deception at the altar, but he was dying of kidney failure, and struggled to keep up with her busy schedule. Jim had begged his estranged wife for a divorce, and she refused. In 1921, while Marie was in St. Louis performing and Jim in Chicago, he died. She left the tour to return only to find that Jim's legal wife had laid claim to his body and was returning him to New York to be buried in the family plot. Marie was devastated.

She buried herself in her work, but found it hard to find employment in the theater. After inconsistent job offers, she made her final performance in 1926 on Broadway. At the same time, her film career began to take off. She had first appeared in a feature length film in 1914, but after a couple of sequels, stopped for awhile after 1918. It wasn't until 1927 that she began to see starring roles in feature films again.

In 1930, she appeared in a feature film called "Min and Bill", and her role would win her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Her career continued to be successful, but her health began to take a turn for the worse. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1934, but Louis B. Mayer found out the doctor's diagnosis before Marie, and ordered him not to tell her. Louis tried to keep her from travelling during this time to protect her. By the end of her career, she had appeared in over 40 films. She passed away in Santa Barbara, California on July 28, 1934.

Sources

  • "Canada Census, 1871," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M4Q8-94F : accessed 18 September 2015), Lila Koerber in household of Louis Koerber, Belleville, West Hastings, Ontario, Canada; citing p. 59, line 10; Library and Archives Canada film number C-9991, Public Archives, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 4,396,342.
  • "Canada Census, 1881," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MVDR-4J4 : accessed 18 September 2015), Lillur Koerber in household of Alexander Koerber, Chatham (Town), Kent, Ontario, Canada; citing p. 93; Library and Archives Canada film number C-13280, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 1,375,916.
  • "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MSLN-1D2 : accessed 18 September 2015), Marie Dressler, Borough of Queens, Election District 2 New York City Ward 3, Queens, New York, United States; citing sheet 315, family 201, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,148.
  • "United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/QV5Y-6LJR : accessed 22 September 2015), Marie Dalton A/K/A Dressler, 1924; citing Passport Application, New York, United States, source certificate #376010, Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925, 2437, NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,738,504.
  • "Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1939, 1955-1994," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N721-HMN : accessed 23 September 2015), Marie Dalton in entry for James Henry Dalton, 29 Nov 1921; citing , Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference cn 27934, record number 5, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,309,305.
  • "Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQ4C-97N : accessed 23 September 2015), Marie Dalton in entry for James Henry Dalton, 29 Nov 1921; Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield; FHL microfilm 1,852,998.
  • "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KXMX-6X5 : accessed 23 September 2015), Marie Dressler, 1926; citing Immigration, New York, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,755,655.
  • "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/24XS-7BN : accessed 23 September 2015), Marie Dressler, 1928; citing Immigration, New York, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,756,066.
  • "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/24FV-RP8 : accessed 23 September 2015), Marie Dressler Or Dalton, 1930; citing Immigration, New York, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,756,501.
  • "Hawaii, Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900-1953," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/QV9Z-NXWN : accessed 23 September 2015), Marie Dressler, 1931; citing Ship , NARA microfilm publication A3422 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  • "California Death Index, 1905-1939," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/QKSM-B5Q7 : accessed 23 September 2015), Marie Dressler, 28 Jul 1934; citing 40388, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.


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No known carriers of Marie's ancestors' mitochondrial DNA have taken an mtDNA test and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Marie Dressler
Marie Dressler

Collaboration

Marie is 34 degrees from Rosa Parks, 28 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 25 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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