Esther Ralston

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Esther Ralston
Esther Ralston - 1930s.jpg
Ralston in the 1930s
Born Esther Worth
(1902-09-17)September 17, 1902
Bar Harbor, Maine, U.S.
Died January 14, 1994(1994-01-14) (aged 91)
Ventura, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Actress
Years active 1915–1962
George Webb (m. 1926–1934)

Will Morgan (m. 1935–1938)

Ted Lloyd (m. 1939–1954)
Children 3
Relatives Howard Ralston (brother)
Bob Ralston (nephew)
Cyril Chadwick and Esther Ralston as Mr. and Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan (1924)

Esther Ralston (née Esther Louise Worth; 17 September 1902 in Bar Harbor, Maine – 14 January 1994 in Ventura, California) was an American film actress who was popular in the silent era.

Early life and career[edit]

Ralston was born Esther Worth in Bar Harbor, Maine,[a] one of five siblings. She was the older sister of actor Howard Ralston (July 25, 1904, Bar Harbor, Maine – June 1, 1992, Los Angeles, California), who appeared in nine films between 1920-24.[1]

She began her career as a child actress in a family vaudeville act which was billed as "The Ralston Family with Baby Esther, America's Youngest Juliet". From this, she appeared in a few small silent film roles including a role alongside her brother in the 1920 film adaptation of Huckleberry Finn. Ralston later gained attention as Mrs. Darling in the 1924 film version of Peter Pan.

In the late 1920s she appeared in many films for Paramount, at one point earning as much as $8000 a week, and garnering much popularity, especially in Britain. She appeared mainly in comedies, often portraying spirited society girls, but received good reviews for her forays into dramatic roles.

Retirement and later years[edit]

Despite making a successful transition to sound, she was mainly relegated to supporting roles by the mid-1930s. Her last leading role was in To the Last Man in 1933, directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Randolph Scott. Ralston made her final film, Tin Pan Alley, in 1940 and chose to retire from films. She continued working on the stage and in radio throughout the 1940s,[2] including being the leading lady for part of the run of Woman of Courage[3]

She returned to the screen in the early 1950s with guest roles on television series including Kraft Television Theatre and Tales of Tomorrow. In 1962, she had a leading role in the short-lived daytime drama, Our Five Daughters, her final onscreen role. In 1985, Ralston released her autobiography, Some Day We'll Laugh.[4]


First marriage On December 25, 1925, Ralston married her manager, the actor George Webb Frey (1897–1943) in Manhattan, New York.[5] He was credited in films as George Webb. They had a daughter, Mary Esther (born 1931), who, at birth was known as the "$100,000 Baby" because her mother turned down a substantial film contract while pregnant.[6] George and Esther divorced in 1934.[7] George filed for bankruptcy in Los Angeles in March 1934.[8]

Second marriage On June 16, 1935, Ralston married actor Will Morgan (né Wilburt Whitfield Morgan), then a former New York stage actor and singer. They divorced in 1938.[9] Morgan led the saxophone section for eight years for Fred Waring.

Third marriage On August 6, 1939, Ralston married radio announcer and columnist Ted Lloyd (né Theodore Allen Lloyd; 1915–1961) in Greenwich, Connecticut.[10] Music publisher Jack Robbins (né John Jacob Robbins; 1894–1959) was Lloyd's best man. The couple had two children, Judy (born 1942) and Ted, Jr. (born 1943). Ted and Esther divorced in 1954. Before marrying Ralston, Lloyd had worked for newspapers and a trade magazine, Radio News. In 1942, Lloyd became director of radio for 20th Century Fox. In 1946, with Hal Horne and Armand Deutsch, Lloyd formed Ted Lloyd, Inc., to manage personalities and to produce radio (later, TV) programs. He produced several radio dramas, including My True Story for the NBC Red Network, Adventures of the Abbotts on NBC Red Network (18 episodes in 1955), Whispering Streets for CBS Radio, and Escape for CBS-TV.


On January 14, 1994, Ralston died of a heart attack at age 91 in her home in Ventura, California.[11] The family held services January 17, 1994, in Ventura, the day of the Northridge earthquake.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Ether Ralston had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6664 Hollywood Boulevard.[12]

Partial filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1915 The Deep Purple Bit, an Angel uncredited (debut film)
1918 For Husbands Only Bit part Uncredited
Lost film
1920 Huckleberry Finn Mary Jane Wilks
1921 The Kid Extra in Heaven Scene Uncredited
1922 The Lone Hand
1922 Remembrance Beatrice
1922 Oliver Twist Rose Maylie
1923 The Prisoner Marie
1923 The Phantom Fortune Mary Rogers
1923 Blinky Mary Lou Kileen
1923 The Wild Party Bess Furth
1924 The Marriage Circle Miss Hofer
1924 The Heart Buster Rose Hillyer
1924 Wolves of the North Madge Chester
1924 Peter Pan Mrs. Darling
1925 A Kiss for Cinderella Fairy Godmother
1925 The Best People Alice O'Neil Lost film
1926 The American Venus Mary Gray Lost film
1926 Old Ironsides Esther
1927 Children of Divorce Jean Waddington
1927 Ten Modern Commandments Donna Latour Lost film
1928 Love and Learn Nancy Blair Lost film
1928 Half a Bride Patience Winslow
1929 The Case of Lena Smith Lena Smith Short film
1929 Betrayal Vroni Lost film
1929 The Wheel of Life Ruth Dangan
1931 Lonely Wives Madeline Smith
1932 Rome Express Asta Marvelle
1932 After the Ball Elissa Strange
1933 To the Last Man Ellen Colby Alternative title: Law of Vengeance
1933 By Candlelight Baroness von Ballin
1934 Sadie McKee Dolly Merrick
1934 The Marines Are Coming Dorothy Manning
1935 Ladies Crave Excitement Miss Winkler
1935 Shadows of the Orient Viola Avery
1935 Streamline Express Elaine Vincent
1936 Hollywood Boulevard Flora Moore
1936 Reunion Janet Fair
1936 We're in the Legion Now! Louise Rillette
1937 As Good as Married Miss Danforth
1937 Jungle Menace Valerie Shield Chapters 1,3,6,7,15
1937 The Mysterious Pilot Vivian McNain Chapters 10-11
1938 Letter of Introduction Mrs. Sinclair Uncredited
1938 Slander House Ruth De Milo
1940 Tin Pan Alley Nora Bayes
Year Title Role Notes
1952 Kraft Television Theatre Episode: "September Tide"
1952 Tales of Tomorrow The Collector Episode: "All the Time in the World"
1953 Broadway Television Theatre Mrs. Bancroft Episode: "The Noose"
1962 Our Five Daughters Helen Lee



  1. ^ The birth certificate of Esther Louise Worth indicates that she was born in Eden, Maine, which – until March 3, 1918 – had been the name of Bar Harbor

General references[edit]

Inline citations[edit]

  1. ^ Esther Ralston on IMDb
  2. ^ Coons, Robbin (October 15, 1940). "Former Star Is Satisfied To Play Bits". Toledo Blade. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  3. ^ Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, Oxford University Press; ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3, pg. 726.
  4. ^ Mayne, Judith (1994). Directed by Dorothy Arzner. Indiana University Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-253-20896-3.
  5. ^ Thomas, Dan (March 4, 1929). "Home Wins Esther Ralston". San Jose News. p. 4. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  6. ^ "Esther Ralston, Filmstar of Yesteryear, Enjoys Active and Happy Live in Salem," by Beatrice McKinney, Times Record (Troy, New York), June 10, 1970, pg. 38
  7. ^ "Esther Ralston Wins Divorce for Cruelty". The Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal. March 6, 1934. p. 12. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  8. ^ "George Webb Frey Files Bankruptcy, Hollywood," Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), March 23, 1934
  9. ^ "Breaks Her Splice". The Leader-Post. May 10, 1938. p. 6. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  10. ^ "Actress Esther Ralston Wed to Ted Lloyd, Radio Man". The Milwaukee Journal. August 7, 1939. p. 2. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  11. ^ Collins, Glenn (January 27, 1994). "Esther Ralston, 91, A Featured Actress Of Silent-Film Era". Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  12. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk". Retrieved February 1, 2013.

External links[edit]