03 October 2014

Mary Odette

At the final day of the Nederlands Film Festival (24 September - 3 October 2014), EFSP presents in the unofficial Dutch Film Star Postcards Festival an odd post. Mary Odette (1901-1987) or Odette Goimbault was not a Dutch but a French actress, who starred in British, German and French silent films. But she also appeared in several Dutch films produced by the Hollandia Filmfabriek, which made her a star in the Netherlands. In Germany, she also worked with Dutch director Jaap Speyer.

Mary Odette
British postcard by Pictures Ltd., London, in the Pictures Portrait Gallery series, no. 49. Photo: Claude Harris.

Hollandia star

Mary Odette was born Odette Goimbault on 10 August 1901 in Dieppe, France. When she was still a child her parents moved with her to Britain.

As a teenager she debuted on the London stage and started in British cinema under her real name, in the film Cynthia in the Wilderness (Harold Weston, 1916), starring Eve Balfour.

From 1918 she had an intense career in British silent cinema, until 1919 still under own name, and often in the female lead. Her British films included The Greatest Wish in the World (Maurice Elvey, 1918), Spinner O’Dreams (Wilfred Noy, 1918), The Wages of Sin (Arrigo Bocchi, 1918), and Peace, Perfect Peace (Arrigo Bocchi, 1918), released just after the armistice ending the First World War.

In the latter film Goimbault’s character had the name of Marie Odette, a name she started to use as her own from 1919 on, first with Castle of Dreams (Wilfred Noy, 1919).

In 1920, she played opposite the reputed French actor Henry Krauss in Enchantment (Einar Bruun, 1920), also with Eric Barclay.

The same year she got an offer to act in the Netherlands at the company Hollandia, which was making co-productions with Britain.

Odette starred here in Zoo als ik ben/As God Made Her (Maurits Binger, B.E. Doxat-Pratt, 1920), and De vrouw van de minister/John Heriott’s Wife (Maurits Binger, B.E. Doxat-Pratt, 1920).

In both films, she co-starred with Adelqui Migliar, Lola Cornero and Henry Victor. One of the other actresses in the cast was the former Dutch diva Annie Bos, named Anna Bosilova here.

Odette rose to star status in the Netherlands and she also managed to convince British actress Elsie Cohen to come over and work for Hollandia.

Yet, she herself soon returned to Britain where she continued to act in films mainly directed by Kenelm Foss, but also in e.g. The Hypocrites (Charles Giblyn, 1923).

Ivan Mozzhukhin
Ivan Mozzhukhin. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1064/1, 1927-1928. Photo: DeWesti Film-Verleih. Publicity still for the film Kean/Kean ou désordre et génie (Alexandre Volkoff, 1924).

Stewart Rome
Stewart Rome. French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 215.

Jaap Speyer

In 1923, Mary Odette went to Berlin, where she acted with Stewart Rome in Im Schatten der Moschee/In the Shadow of the Mosque (Walter Richard Hall, 1923).

Then she returned to Holland to act in De leeuw en de muis/The Lion’s Mouse (Oscar Apfel, 1923). The film co-starred Marguerite Marsh, a sister of famous American actress Mae Marsh, who died at a very young age because of pneumonia.

Around the same time, Odette acted in France in the period piece Kean/Kean ou désordre et génie (1924) by Alexandre Volkoff. Ivan Mozzhukhin starred as the legendary British actor Edmund Kean.

In 1925, Odette played in Berlin in Max Mack’s Vater Voss, with Stewart Rome. She also acted in the British-German co-production She (Leander De Cordova, 1925), starring Betty Blythe and Carlyle Blackwell. This H. Rider Haggard adaptation was shot in a German zeppelin hall.

Odette went to act in Germany in Elegantes Pack/Elegant suit (1925) by Dutch director Jaap Speyer, opposite Eugen Klöpfer, Ralph Arthur Roberts and Hanni Weisse, and in Die Moral der Gasse (Jaap Speyer 1925), with Werner Krauss, Ernst Hofmann and Evi Eva.

Her last silent films were Emerald of the East (Jean de Kucharski, 1928), and Celle qui domine (Carmine Gallone, Léon Mathot, 1929), starring Léon Mathot himself and Soava Gallone.

At the end of the silent era, Odette didn’t manage to switch to sound cinema and retired from screen acting. She married a journalist, first moved with him to India, then returned to Britain.

Mary Odette died in Stockport, UK, in 1987. She was 85.

Mary Odette
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. 190. Photo: Foulsham & Banfield. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.

Sources: Cineressources (French), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (Dutch, German, English and French), and IMDb.

Thanks to Marlene Pilate for the additional information and the postcard. Check out Marlene's new gallery on L’encinémathèque with  autographed postcards.

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