Denver has bragging rights to being the place that Maude Fealy—stage and screen actress, director, author and teacher—called "home."
Her papers (WH1117)—a collection of correspondence, scripts, photographs, programs, playbills and clippings—also call Denver "home," as they are now housed in the Denver Public Library's Western History/Genealogy Department.
Although she was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 3, 1881, Maude Fealy spent many years of her life in Denver. The daughter of James Hawk and Margaret Fealy, an actress, Maude grew up on the stage alongside her mother. Eventually, Margaret retired from acting and opened the Tabor Grand School of Acting in Memphis while Maude attended Highlees Academy until the age of 15.
In 1895, Margaret married Raffaelo Cavallo, the future founder and conductor of the Cavallo Symphony Orchestra in Denver. The couple moved to Denver around 1897.
In 1900, Maude made her debut on the New York City stage, playing the role of Eunice in Quo Vadis. She experienced much success, and went on to act in productions in London and Paris. In 1903, Maude won the thousand-franc prize of International Contest of the Beauties of the World, sponsored by the Paris Figaro Illustre.
In 1905, Maude came to Denver to act in a production of Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall at the Elitch Theatre. Cecil B. DeMille had a role in the play as well, and the two became lifelong collaborators and friends. For over ten years, Maude provided dramatic coaching for DeMille, and in the 1950s, DeMille signed Fealy in several of his productions, including The Ten Commandments.
During the summers of 1912 and 1913, Maude appeared onstage at Lakeside Amusement Park's Casino Theater in Denver. Shortly thereafter, she became a feature star with Thanhouser Films. Her films included King Rene's Daughter (1913), Moths (1913), The Woman Pays (1914) and Frou, Frou (1914).
As an author, Maude wrote a number of plays, lectures and one-woman shows, including Shadow Lights (1917) and The Red Cap (1928). During the 1930s, she worked on various federally-funded theatre projects.
After several years in California, Maude returned to Colorado in 1937 and opened the Maude Fealy Studio of Speech. After the death of her stepfather in 1942, Maude and her mother moved to California and opened a dramatic coaching studio in Hollywood.
Maude returned once again to Denver in 1957, after the death of her mother. She continued to stay active in theatre and delivered lectures throughout the region. Her last performance was in 1961 in a play she had written about Emily Griffith.
Maude married three times. She wed Hugo Sherwin, critic for the Denver Republican, in 1907, but the couple divorced one year later. In 1909, she married James Durkin; they divorced in 1917. Her final marriage to James E. Cort in 1923 was annulled.
Maude Fealy spent the final two years of her life in Woodland Hills, California, at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital, a convalescent and retirement institution funded by the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund. She died there at the age of 90 on November 9, 1971. She is entombed at the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery Mausoleum—a final gift willed to her by friend Cecil B. DeMille.