And now, on to business. Leatrice Joy I think is Jack Gilbert's most famous wife. She was his first famous marriage and it resulted in the birth of his first child, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain. It wasn't until many years later that Leatrice began appearing at screenings of her father's movies and talking about her memories of him. I think it is interesting that in her book, she refers to her father by his first name and only sometimes refers to him as her father. I think it is because she saw her dad as two different people: the movie star and "great lover" and then her father who loved her dearly. I want to point out that a lot of the info for my entries has come from Leatrice's book, so definitely check it out and gain some more info about the man himself.
Before filming her first scene, Leatrice covered her with in a white powder make up so that her skin would look flawless on the screen. You have seen how made up even the guys on the silent screen look, right? Imagine what the gals had to go through! Anyways, with Leatrice covered in this white make up, everything she touched also got covered in the powder...including Jack and his clothes. He was not happy about having his brand new jacket ruined and he stormed off the set to try and get it clean. Leatrice followed him crying and apologizing over and over again.
The two saw each other off and on but Jack just couldn't seem to make up his mind. He really had strong feelings for her, but he also liked to go around with other ladies. He didn't sleep with him (he claimed) but he was spending a little too much time with them and buying them gifts. Leatrice agreed to give him another chance if he gave her duplicates of the gifts he gave other girls. "One of the gifts was a white enameled elephant in which to burn the oil he had given Bebe Daniels. I didn't even know he was seeing her! That night the phone rang at about two in the morning I answered it and it was Barbara La Marr. She said, 'Oh, Leatrice darling, may I speak to Jack, please?' I said, 'Of course, dear,' and then threw the phone under the bed and went back to sleep."
When she went away for a few months to shoot a movie, she sewed little red hearts in Jack's pajamas to remind him of her while she was away. They also wrote each other frequently, expressing how much they missed each other. Sometimes the greatest love affairs involve an intense amount of passion, both good and bad.
The time had finally come for the two to get married and they did so in a secret ceremony in 1922.
Leatrice felt awful about the state of her marriage and wanted to try and mend it the smoothest way possible. So, she decided the best way would be to slowly transition into his life again by going to parties where she thought he would be. One night, she attended such a party and Jack did show up...with Bebe Daniels on his arm and she was dressed in her best vamp ensemble. Leatrice was of course hurt by this sight but she didn't let it show. While dancing the night away, Jack and Leatrice kept making eyes at each other until finally he got her alone long enough to convince her to go back home with him.
Things seemed fine until exhaust started to get the better of Leatrice. In a matter of months she worked on and completed five pictures without a break. Her exhaustion put her even more on edge and less likely to put up with any of her husband's shenanigans. They went weeks without talking or seeing each other until one day they agreed to meet at a church and talk things out face to face. They told one another how happy they were together and thought it best to stay that way. However, Jack wanted more. He wanted a baby. Leatrice on the other hand was not gung ho on the idea. Her career was really going places and she didn't want to take such a long break from the spotlight in order to start a family. Jack then made a completely asinine remark to her. He told her that he was going to have a baby in the near future either with her or with a prostitute on the street. Somehow this changed Leatrice's mind. Good Lord...
Interestingly enough, for all his pampering, his philandering ways didn't completely stop. His new lady friend about town was stage actress Laurette Taylor. They loved making home movies and putting on little skits and laughing and flirting, all of this for everyone to see. Tsk, tsk... The final straw for Leatrice came when a telegram arrived at their home. It read: "Darling, thanks for the roses. It was equally hard to leave you. Always, Laurette." After this slap in the face, Leatrice packed up and moved back in with her mother. When Jack home and found his wife gone, he freaked out. He called his friends but no one would tell him where she was. The next day, he finally found out where she was and send her roses and a note asking for her forgiveness and for her to come home. Wrong choice of flowers there, Jack! Leatrice sent him a note back: "Darling, thanks for the roses. It was equally hard to leave you. Always, Leatrice." NICE!!
Mutual friends intervened and kept telling Leatrice what a great guy Jack was and that she really needed him because of the baby which was due in a matter of weeks. She decided they were probably right and so one day she headed to the home Jack shared with his two buddies. She walked in the door and saw a mess of liquor bottles and over turned ash trays all over the carpet. She didn't even bother going all the way in to find Jack, she just turned and left. A week later, she filed for divorce.
|Leatrice Joy and baby Leatrice Joy|
During the divorce proceedings Jack kept holding out hope that she would change her mind. And I think both of them still harbored feelings for the other even after the divorce. Sometimes though, no matter how hard you try, you can't fix something that is just completely and utterly broken.