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September 08, 2015

Noblesville and Hollywood: Lillian Albertson

Noblesville and Hollywood – Part 2: Lillian Albertson

By: David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian

Lillian AlbertsonWhile it’s fun to find Noblesville connections to famous people, sometimes those connections can be minor.  Lillian Albertson (August 6, 1881 – August 24, 1962) was an American stage and screen actress, and a noted theatrical producer. She was born in Noblesville, but only spent a short time here.  Her father Joshua had been born & raised in Indiana and had a farm in Jackson Township, but the family had moved to Kansas by March of 1885.[i]

She became an actress and after a successful career on Broadway[ii], she moved to Hollywood to produce plays there.  She and her husband, Louis O. Macloon, were credited with discovering Clark Gable and giving him his start on the stage.  She first cast him in her productions of Romeo and Juliet and What Price Glory?.  Then she cast him in the breakout role of “Killer Mears” in her 1930 Los Angeles stage production of The Last Mile.[iii]

She produced and directed over fifty stage dramas, musicals, comedies and operettas, including The Copperhead with Lionel Barrymore[iv] and Paris in the Spring with Johnny Mercer.[v]  Her most significant impact may have been as Head of Dramatic Coaching Staff at RKO Pictures and later, Dialogue Director/Coach at Paramount Pictures.  She was known as “Mrs. A” by her acting students and wrote a book called Motion Picture Acting in 1947.  The book opens with introductory letters by Rosalind Russell, Cary Grant, director Leo McCarey, producer Jesse Lasky, and others, all praising her work.  She continued to do some acting.  She was friend of Cecil B. DeMille and had small roles in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and The Ten Commandments (1956).[vi]   So, an interesting part of Noblesville theatrical history, albeit in an oblique way.

[i] 1870 United States Census; Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 : www.ancestrylibrary.com
[ii] Internet Broadway Database : www.ibdb.com
[iii] Clark Gable : biography, filmography, bibliography / by Christopher J. Spicer; Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, 2002.
[iv] Internet Movie Database : www.imdb.com
[v] Johnny Mercer : southern songwriter for the world / Glenn T. Eskew; Athens, Ga., University of Georgia Press, 2013.
[vi] Internet Movie Database.