Silent screen heroine Madge Bellamy, who had lead roles in the 1920s epics "Lorna Doone" and "The Iron Horse," made her stage debut at age 5 and began studying serious acting a decade later.
Born Margaret Philpott on June 30, 1900, in Hillsboro, Texas, Bellamy appeared in several New York theatrical productions as well as the road show of "Pollyanna."
The brown-eyed actress made her film debut in 1920 in the screen adaptation of the play "The Riddle Woman" and had featured roles in 40 silent films.
In the John Ford classic "The Iron Horse," Bellamy portrayed the daughter of the first transcontinental railroad's chief contractor. As "Lorna Doone," Bellamy projected a sweet innocence as the aristocratic girl captured and raised by bandits before being swept away by the dashing hero.
She went on to have roles in 10 talking pictures, including "White Zombie," a seminal 1932 horror film in which she starred opposite Bela Lugosi, fresh from his success in "Dracula."
After her early Hollywood successes, however, Bellamy attracted far more attention for her tempestuous love life than for her oft-praised acting skills.
Her love affairs first drew headlines in 1928, when she and Los Angeles bond broker Logan Metcalf slipped away to Tijuana to be wed. Within four days, they had separated and Metcalf filed for a divorce. "She was the sweetest thing in the world while I was courting her," Metcalf told a judge. "... (But) at our first meal after the wedding she started being temperamental."
In 1943, she was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after firing three shots at a boyfriend who jilted her for a model. In testimony, Bellamy claimed that the wealthy lumber company executive had called her his "little Easter egg" and promised to marry her. The actress, who added that she was only "trying to scare the gizzard out of him," received a six-month suspended sentence.
One of the last remaining stars of the silent era, she had lived quietly in Riverside and San Bernardino counties for several decades after her film career took a plunge with the advent of the talkies in the 1930s. Settling in Ontario in her later years, the feisty actress remained a witty conversationalist but in a somewhat solitary lifestyle, acquaintances said.