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The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.

William Desmond

Real name: William Desmond Mannion

Nickname: "Bill"

1878 - 1949

Known as: "the King of the Silent Serials"

(Image courtesy of Jack Tillmany)

Above is a circa 1918 photo of actress Mary MacIvor / McIvor, William Desmond's second wife. Her real name was Mary Ellsworth McKeever. She was the heroine to William S. Hart in THE SQUARE DEAL MAN (Triangle, 1917) and she also appeared in a few silents with Desmond. Mary married Desmond in 1919 and she passed away in 1941 from a heart attack.

Above is a 1925 photo of Bill Desmond, wife Mary and daughter Mary Jo from a multi-page article and photo spread of the Desmond family in the September, 1925 issue of Movie Monthly (available at the Internet Archive).
Many of the familiar faces in B westerns and serials of the 1930s - 1940s began their acting careers on the legitimate stage and vaudeville and some progressed to playing leads - and even heroes - in silent films. Names that come to mind are William Farnum, Bob Burns, Franklyn Farnum, Herbert Rawlinson ... and the subject of this profile, William Desmond.

Some Desmond biographies have him born in Ireland. Not so! A Desmond family member advised that he was born January 23, 1878 in Horseheads, Chemung County, New York. When the 1880 census was taken, the Mannion family were in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, New York, which is about sixty miles south of Buffalo. His father hailed from Ireland and his mother was born in New York and William was their first child. At the time of the 1900 census, the Mannion family was in New York City and both parents passed away there - father Richard J. Mannion died in 1916 and mother Joanna in 1931. Also of note in that 1900 census - soon-to-be actor William Desmond isn't acting yet. He's a "plasterer", probably working for his father (who was also a plasterer).

His job status changed in the 1905 New York census - 27 year old William D. Mannion was living with his parents in Manhattan, New York City ... but hs's now an actor.

William D. Mannion's full name was William Desmond Mannion. The Desmond middle name came from his grandmother (his father's mother) who was Mary Desmond. And a later Social Security Application and Claims record confirms his full name was William Desmond Mannion.

Most of Desmond's early stage and vaudeville work was tied to noted theatrical producer Oliver Morosco. During this period, his Morosco credits include the brief 1906 run of "The Judge and the Jury" in New York City as well as a multi-year stay at Morosoco's Burbank theater in Los Angeles.

He signed with the J. C. Williamson organization and toured Australia during 1910 - 1913. With him was wife Lilian Lamson, the older sister of Gertrude Lamson (Gertrude became stage and screen actress "Nance O'Neil"). But tragedy struck - Lilian was injured in Australia and became an invalid, passing away at age 39 on October 24, 1917 at the Desmond home in Hollywood.

After his return from Australia, Desmond re-teamed with Oliver Morosco for more plays and some early films which Morosco did in collaboration with Hobart Bosworth. He was with the Morosco touring company for a couple years in "The Bird of Paradise" which played in various cities in the U. S. and Canada. Lenore Ulrich was his leading lady. Appears that Morosco liked the chemistry between Desmond and Ulrich and he paired them in KILMENY (Oliver Morosco Photoplay Company/Paramount, 1915). a film that was the cinema debut for both players.

Circa 1915, Desmond connected with Thomas H. Ince for additional movies churned out by Ince's NYMP company (New York Motion Picture) and distributed by Triangle. His first for Ince was the drama PEGGY (Ince/Triangle, 1916) with Desmond as a minister in love with Billie Burke (the wife of Florenz Ziegfeld). Other Triangle stars during this period included William S. Hart, Charles Ray and Bessie Love.

Circa 1918, Desmond signed with Jesse D. Hampton for another batch of movies which were released through Exhibitors Mutual, Robertson-Cole, and Pathé. Helming many of these was actor and director Joseph Franz and the mix of films included a few westerns such as BARE-FISTED GALLAGHER (Jesse D. Hampton Prod, 1919) and A BROADWAY COWBOY (Jesse D. Hampton Prod, 1920). Desmond even created his own production company for another cowboy adventure, FIGHTIN' MAD (William Desmond Prod/Metro, 1921), which was directed by Franz and distributed by Metro (forerunner of MGM).

Appearing in some Ince and Hampton productions was pretty actress Mary MacIvor/McIvor (real name: Mary Ellsworth McKeever). Her biggest role was leading lady to William S. Hart in THE SQUARE DEAL MAN (Thomas H. Ince/Triangle, 1917). She and Desmond married in 1919 and they had two daughters - Mary Joanna (born 1920 and William S. Hart was her godfather) and Elizabeth Terry (born 1932). Mary Jo Desmond did a few films including the portrayal of "Aggie Kirby" in the serial THE LAST FRONTIER (RKO, 1932). Her father portrayed Custer in that chapterplay.

Up to this point, Desmond's Hollywood career was mostly starring roles in comedies, romances, melodramas, detective/mysteries ... and a few sagebrush yarns.

His next stop was Universal Pictures and during the years 1922-1928, he reached his peak as western/action hero and became known as "the King of the Silent Serials". You'll find more about Desmond's time at Universal below. During break time between feature and cliffhanger assignments at the "U", he did a quartet of non-westerns for Jesse J. Goldburg's Independent Pictures company. His co-star was Helen Holmes, who along with Pearl White, were the major female stars of many silent serials. Directing the Goldburgs was J. P. McGowan, who at that time, was married to Holmes. In between movie jobs, Desmond and wife Mary toured the Keith and Orpheum circuits.

Trade reviews from theater managers/owners were generally positive on Desmond's serials (especially THE RIDDLE RIDER in 1924). While his Universal oaters had some positive feedback, many reviews called them ordinary, average, fair, weak, tame.

When talkies arrived, Desmond was about fifty years old and his leading man days were over. At Universal, he developed friendship - or a strong work relationship - with director-producer Henry MacRae or director Ray Taylor ... or both. MacRae and / or Taylor got him many meaty (credited) roles in early 1930s chapterplays. He also shows up in several cliffhangers from Nat Levine's Mascot serial factory.

There were financial problems, medical issues and personal tragedies. Circa late 1928-early 1929, his paydays as a star came to an end. That - coupled with the 1929 stock market crash - severely impacted Desmond who lost his Hollywood home to foreclosure. While he and wife Mary headlined the Barnett Bros. Circus in 1938, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. And Mary passed away from a heart attack in 1941.

By the late 1930s, Desmond found himself relegated to mostly bit parts and extra work, and the probable cause was age and heart problems.

Desmond continued to suffer from heart issues and lived with daughter Mary Jo during the last year of his life. The "King of the Silent Serials" passed away on November 2, 1949 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, Los Angeles.

His stage and movie career spanned 40+ years, from roughly 1905 through 1948. Les Adams has Desmond in about 100 sound era films, and that number includes about 50 oaters and three dozen serials.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on:
William Desmond:
Desmond's second wife, actress Mary McIvor (1904-1941):

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on:
Desmond's 18 films for Thomas H. Ince which were released 1916-1918:,nm0408436
Desmond's 8 films for producer Jesse D. Hampton which were released 1919-1920:,nm0359002
Desmond's 10 films for director Joseph Franz from 1918-1921 - these were for Triangle and the later Hampton series:,nm0221488
Desmond's 4 films for producer Jesse J. Goldburg released in 1925 (all 4 co-starring Helen Holmes):,nm0325367
Desmond's 27 films and serials for director and producer Henry MacRae at Universal:,nm0534288
Desmond's 25 films and serials for director Ray Taylor - most were Universal serials:,nm0853028

Wikipedia has a biography on Oliver Morosco:

The Internet Broadway Database has Desmond in a couple of New York plays:

The Playbill Vault has a playbill from Desmond's starring role in the 1932 "Three Men and a Woman" at the Lyceum Theater in New York City:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has a webpage with more on Desmond's support/character roles in 1930s serials:

The Google Newspaper archive has several death notices on Desmond as well as theater advertisements:

The Serial Squadron has a clip from the trailer of Desmond in THE RETURN OF THE RIDDLE RIDER (1927) on YouTube:

The New York Public Library Digital Collections has a cigarette card of a young Desmond:
Front photo:

The Silent Hollywood website has some production stills of Desmond and wife Mary in THE BURNING TRAIL (Universal, 1925):

Desmond at Universal, 1922-1928.
Universal in the 1920s was a very busy studio churning out lots of product. And western and serial fans were treated with a steady stream of oaters and cliffhangers.

There were "Mustang" two-reel shorts starring Edmund Cobb, Jack Mower, Fred Gilman, Kent Sanderson (Buddy Roosevelt), others. Some were comedies featuring Benny Corbett and Gilbert 'Pee Wee' Holmes (as "Magpie" and "Dirty Shirt").

During this period, Universal's main cowboy star was Hoot Gibson. But Universal also had their "Blue Streak" series of westerns which starred Jack Hoxie, Art Acord, Fred Humes, Pete Morrison, more.

Serial heroes included Art Acord, William Duncan, Jack Daugherty and strongman Joe Bonomo. They even had Frank Merrill as "Tarzan the Mighty" (1928) and "Tarzan the Tiger" (1929).

The "U" added William Desmond to their talent pool and during the years 1922-1928, he starred in some Blue Streak westerns and many serials. He was not tied exclusively to Universal, but under a mix of contract deals. During those years, Desmond (and wife Mary) continued to tour with his stage/vaudeville act, and he also co-starred with Helen Holmes in some non-westerns for independent producer Jesse J. Goldburg.


Above left is a trade ad for Desmond's 1924 THE RIDDLE RIDER chapterplay. Another trade ad on the right - Hoot Gibson was Universal's main western star for season 1924-1925. Their other cowboy heroes for that release season were Jack Hoxie and Desmond. You'll find larger versions of both images on a later webpage.

Desmond's silent serials for Universal
Year Title Director Leading Lady
1922 Perils of the Yukon Jay Marchant, J. P. McGowan, Perry N. Vekroff Laura La Plante
1923 Around the World in Eighteen Days B. Reeves Eason, Robert F. Hill Laura La Plante
1923 The Phantom Fortune Robert F. Hill Esther Ralston
1923 Beasts of Paradise William James Craft Eileen Sedgwick
1924 The Riddle Rider William James Craft Eileen Sedgwick
1925 The Ace of Spades Henry MacRae Mary McAllister
1926 The Winking Idol Francis Ford Eileen Sedgwick
1926 Strings of Steel Henry MacRae Eileen Sedgwick
1927 The Return of the Riddle Rider Robert F. Hill Lola Todd
1928 The Vanishing Rider Ray Taylor Ethlyne Clair
1928 The Mystery Rider Jack Nelson Derelys Perdue

William Desmond timeline and tidbits/excerpts from fan and trade publications and newspapers.
  • September 4, 1909 New York Dramatic Mirror: "William Desmond closed Aug. 14 (1909) as leading man for the Burbank (California) Stock Company, Los Angeles, Cal., after 300 weeks, and left Sunday to fill a similar position at the Delphine Theater, New Orleans."
  • March 22, 1911 New York Dramatic Mirror: "J. C. Williamson, the Australian manager, has William Desmond under contract for ten months ..."
  • July 12, 1911 New York Dramatic Mirror had a lengthy article on Australian stage producer J. C. Williamson: "... Katherine Grey and William Desmond, who head his American company ..." ; "Miss Grey and Mr. Desmond can hardly be more elated over their own personal popularity with Australian theatregoers than is Mr. Williamson."
  • October 23, 1912 New York Dramatic Mirror: "Another successful American in Australia is William Desmond. He went across to the J. C. Williamson management on a six months' contract and has been there two years. He was just packing up to start on a tour of Europe with his wife (a sister of Nance O'Neill) when the big Australian firm signed him on again ..."
  • May, 1911 Variety has Desmond in Australia in the play, 'Paid in Full'. And an October, 1912 Variety had Desmond starring in 'The Woman' at the Royal Theater in Sydney, Australia.
  • April, 1913 Variety: "William Desmond is slated ... as lead for the Morosco producing company."
  • July, 1913 New York Clipper: Desmond is a cast member of the Oliver Morosco production 'The Bird of Paradise' which began its third season at the Oliver Theater, Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • August, 1913 Variety: "'A Bird of Paradise' now being rehearsed at Cohan's Grand Opera House, will have Leonora Ulrich in the role ..." Among the other cast members listed were: "William Desmond, recently returned from Australia ..."
  • May, 1914 Variety: "William Desmond is to play in summer stock in Baltimore."
  • July, 1914 Variety: "... William Desmond, the leading man of the Poll Players (in Baltimore), will remain during the coming season with that company." ; "... at present under contract to appear in a road company of 'The Bird of Paradise.'"
  • October 31, 1914 Variety had an article about "local favorite" Bill Desmond back in Los Angeles in 'The Bird of Paradise.'
  • May, 1915 Variety had tidbits from their Los Angeles office: "William Desmond is here to go into pictures."
  • May 22, 1915 Motion Picture News: "William Desmond, one of the country's matinee idols who has been with Oliver Morosco for the past ten years, has been engaged by the Oliver Morosco Photoplay Company, in Association with Bosworth, Inc., to appear on the screen opposite Leonore Ulrich, the popular little star at present appearing in 'The Bird of Paradise' with big success." ; "Mr. Desmond played opposite Miss Ulrich in 'The Bird of Paradise' for the past two seasons ..."
  • June 26, 1915 Motion Picture News: "William Desmond, now playing leads with the Morosco-Bosworth in the new picture, 'Kilmeny,' was the leading man Oliver Morosco chose for his first production in New York, 'Judge and Jury.'" ; "... 'Bill' Desmond had been a Morosco stalwart for years ..."
  • July 24, 1915 Motion Picture News: "William Desmond, matinee idol of the legitimate stage, has been signed for NYMP brand pictures, according to announcement by ... Thomas H. Ince." ; "... Mr. Desmond was for a long time leading man at the Burbank theatre, where the Oliver Morosco stock company plays."
  • September 23, 1916 Motion Picture News: "... Ince studios last week made a two-year contract with William Desmond to play exclusively in Ince pictures. Desmond made his screen debut in support of Billie Burke in 'Peggy' ..."
  • October 1, 1918 Wid's (Film) Daily: "William Desmond has left Triangle and is considering two or three other picture offers."
  • October 8, 1918 Wid's (Film) Daily: "William Desmond, former Triangle star ... now under contract with Jesse D. Hampton ..."
  • November 12, 1918 Wid's (Film) Daily: "Desmond's contract with Mr. Hampton is for two years ... the former Triangle star will make twenty five-reel stories and two additional specials."
  • December 3, 1921 Moving Picture World: "William Desmond, who has been in New York for sometime, is making personal appearances at the Rialto Theater this week in conjunction with the showing of his latest picture, 'Fightin' Mad.' Next week he goes to Detroit for the same purpose."
  • December 10, 1921 Moving Picture World: ""Fightin' Mad,' the two-fisted, two-gun romance of the big outdoors which Metro releases for William Desmond Productions, scored an instantaneous hit ... with Broadway audiences at the Rialto."
  • May 6, 1922 Moving Picture Weekly: "Universal has just signed William Desmond ..." ; He ".. began his stage career in New York with 'Quo Vadis', entering the moving picture business way back in the old Triangle days ..."
  • April 7, 1923 Exhibitors Trade Review: "William Desmond has signed a new long term contract for five-reelers, and Jack Hoxie and Roy Stewart have been added to the starring force."
  • April 14, 1923 Exhibitors Trade Review: "Three stars have just been engaged for Universal feature productions ... " ; "They are Roy Stewart, William Desmond and Jack Hoxie. Stewart and Desmond have been playing in Universal serials and short features for several months. Hoxie, who is a western star, is a newcomer ..." ; "William Desmond's previous appearances in Universal pictures have been mostly in serials."
  • May 24, 1924 Exhibitors Trade Review had several articles on Desmond's new series for independent producer Jesse J. Goldburg: "... Goldburg ... entered into a contract with William Desmond to star in a series of eight society stunt melodramas, in which Helen Holmes also will star. Mr. Goldburg, interviewed seven prospective stars to appear in this series, but finally determined on Desmond, after making a canvas by telegraph among the State right exchanges as to the popularity of the various men he had under consideration." ; "In addition to the William Desmond-Helen Holmes unit, Mr. Goldburg will also supervise the production of two other series, one the Franklyn Farnum super-Westerns, and the other a series of eight stunt western action dramas, starring Bill Cody."
  • August 30, 1924 Universal Weekly: "William Desmond, star of many Universal western features and several popular Universal serials, has just been signed for eight more features."
  • January 3, 1925 Universal Weekly: "Last week Carl Laemmle signed new contracts with Hoot Gibson and William Desmond. These two stars, with Jack Hoxie, are furnishing strong western pictures ..."
  • October 21, 1925 Variety: "Mrs. William Desmond, known on the screen as Mary McIvor, is confined at a sanatorium at Long Beach following a nervous breakdown she had several weeks ago while playing in an act with her husband at the Hillstreet."
  • December 7, 1925 Variety notes that Desmond is doing his vaudeville act at the Orpheum theater in St. Louis.
  • June 26, 1926 Moving Picture World: "William Desmond has returned to the studio (meaning Universal) after an absence of eight months, during which he made an extensive vaudeville tour. He will star in 'The Return of the Riddle Rider,' under the direction of Robert Hill."
  • December 25, 1926 Universal Weekly: "WILLIAM DESMOND, star of the Universal serials, 'The Riddle Rider' and 'The Return of the Riddle Rider', is occupying his time between pictures with a tour of the Keith vaudeville houses in a sketch entitled 'The Dude Bandit.' He is supported by beautiful Mary McIvor."
  • March, 1927 Variety: "William Desmond, absent from the screen for about two years, during which he played vaudeville engagements, has been signed by Carl Laemmle to star in a Universal serial, 'The Vanishing Rider.'"
  • June 26, 1927 Film Daily: "William Desmond has returned to Universal City from a vaudeville tour to start 'The Vanishing Rider,' under direction of Ray Taylor."
  • July 6, 1927 Variety: "William Desmond winds up his vaude tour in 'The Dude Bandit' in three weeks to return to screen work. Desmond is under contract to make a new serial for Universal called 'The Vanishing Rider.'"
  • February, 1928 issues of Variety had Los Angeles theater news: "William Desmond on the stage of the Belmont doing 'Slippy McGee' this week. Will follow with 'The Rear Car.'" ; "The Belmont ... reverts to one show a night with the production of 'The Timber Wolf,' with William Desmond."
  • May and June, 1928 issues of Variety had several blurbs:
    In Los Angeles: "After playing two weeks for Pantages, William Desmond switched to the Keith and is playing his sketch for the latter circuit on the coast."
    In San Francisco: "... William Desmond in the sketch 'The Right Man,' at the Golden Gate (Orpheum)."
    In Oakland: "William Desmond ... appearing at the Orpheum here last week."
  • November 16, 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review: "William Desmond and his wife, Mary McIvor, are en route to Chicago to resume their position as headliners over the Orpheum-Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit. The popular actor just completed a featured role in 'No Defense,' a Vitaphone production."
  • January, 1929 Variety: Desmond is appearing at the Novelty Theater, Lawrence, Kansas.
  • August 2, 1932 Variety: "Dispossess proceedings brought in Los Angeles Municipal court by (bank) against William Desmond, seeking possession of his home in Hollywood, sold under foreclosure order last August, and which he still occupies."
  • Various newspapers from late July, 1938 reported that Desmond suffered a stroke while he and wife Mary were headlining the Barnett Bros. Circus. He was taken to a hospital in Massachusetts and later hospitalized at a facility in Pasadena, California. (Checking the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Desmond had a bit part in only one film during 1938-1939.)

On the trail of William Desmond
The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Index, death certificate, and newspapers and trade publications provide more on William Desmond and family:

  • 1880 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, New York are 23 year old Richard Mannion (born Ireland; occupation "brakeman"), his 21 year old wife Joanna (born New York), 2 year old son William (born New York), 8 month old daughter Maria (born New York), 49 year old mother-in-law Mary Murray (born Ireland) and 14 year old sister-in-law Marnie (born New York):
    (Note: Salamanca, New York is bordered by the Allegany State Park and is about 60 miles south of Buffalo, New York.)
  • 1880 census summary and census takers worksheet for William Desmond's first wife, Lilian Lamson - living in Oakland, California are 9 year old Lilian Lamson, her parents, and 5 year old sister Gertrude Lamson. Gertrude would become stage and screen actress "Nance O'Neil" (1874-1965):
  • 1890 census is unavailable - it was lost in a 1921 fire (and water damage) at the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.
  • 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - both and Family Search have the Mannion family with a last name of "Manuicas". And soon-to-be actor William Desmond isn't acting yet - he's a plasterer, probably working for his father. Living in Manhattan, New York City are 43 year old father Richard (born Ireland; occupation "plasterer"), 42 year old wife Joanna (born New York), 22 year old son William (born New York; single; occupation "plasterer"), and six daughters (Myra, Millrhea, Loretta, Luly, Fannie, Florence):
  • Ancestry had the 1905 New York census - living in Manhattan, New York City are 47 year old Richard J. Mannion (born Ireland; occupation "plasterer"), his 45 year old wife Johana [sic], 27 year old son William D. Mannion (occupation "actor"), and daughters Milaha, Julie and Fannie.
  • 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - both and Family Search have the Mannion family with a last name of "Maurrion". Living in Manhattan, New York City are 53 year old father Richard (born Ireland; occupation "plasterer"), 51 year old wife Joanna (born New York), and daughters Lulu and Fannie:
  • Ancestry had the 1915 New York Census - 58 year old Richard Mannion (born Ireland; occupation "Plastering Contractor") and his 56 year old wife Joanna (born U.S.) live at 516 West 175th Street, New York City.
  • September 8, 1916 death of Desmond's father, 59 year old Richard Mannion, in Bronx, New York. He was married; born in Ireland about 1857; parents were Thomas Mannion and Mary Desmond; his occupation was "Plasterer"; and his home address was 518 West 175th Street, New York, New York:
    The September 11, 1916 issue of the New York Times newspaper had a funeral notice on Richard J. Mannion.
  • The 1905-1939 California Death Index has a record for William Desmond's first wife, 39 year old Lilian L. Desmond. She passed away on October 24, 1917 in Los Angeles:
    The November 24, 1917 issue of Motion Picture News had more on Lilian's death: "Mrs. William Desmond, wife of the Triangle actor, died early this week at their home in Hollywood. She was the sister of Nance O'Neil, and had been an invalid for several years, as the result of a fall while with her husband in Australia when he made his stage debut there."
  • World War I draft registration dated September 11, 1918 - 40 year old William Mannion Desmond was born January 23, 1878. Home address is 6122 De Longpre Avenue, Los Angeles. Occupation is Moving Pictures - Triangle Film Co., Culver City. His contact is his mother, Johanna [sic] Desmond, 175 West 17? Street, New York City:
  • March 22, 1919 marriage license for 35 year old William Mannion Desmond and 18 year old Mary Ellsworth McKeever in Pasadena, California. He is a widower; born New York; occupation actor; parents were R. J. Desmond (born Ireland) and Johanna [sic] Murray (born Ireland). She is single; born Ohio; no occupation listed; parents were E. E. McKeever (born Scotland) and Sara B. Bentley (born Virginia). Mary Ellsworth McKeever is actress Mary MacIvor/McIvor:
  • April 12, 1919 Moving Picture World: "William Desmond ... was married at Pasadena on March 22 ... to Mary MacIvor, his former leading lady and later his private secretary." ; "Miss MacIvor, whose real name is Mary McKeever, is the daughter of Mrs. B. McKeever, of Hollywood. She met Desmond at the Triangle studio a short time after his first wife, Gertrude Lanson, died." (Error in this report: the correct name of his first wife was Lilian Lamson, not her sister Gertrude.)
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 35 year old William Desmond (born U.S.), his 30 year old wife Mary (born U.S.) and a servant are living in Cahuenga, Los Angeles County, California. They own their home but I could not read the street name. Their occupations are "Actor - Films" and "Actress - Films":
  • Daughter Mary J. Desmond was born April 7, 1920 in Los Angeles:
    A 1921 issue of Photoplay magazine had a blurb on the baptism of Mary Johanna [sic] Desmond. Excerpt: "Bill Hart was Mary Johanna's godfather ..." (Note: Bill Hart is actor William S. Hart.)
  • The December 5, 1931 New York Times newspaper had a funeral notice for "MANNION - Joanna, beloved mother of William Desmond ... Interment Plainfield, N. J. ..."
  • Daughter Elizabeth Desmond was born November 25, 1932 in Los Angeles:
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 62 year old William Desmond (born New York) and 37 year old wife Mary (born Ohio) reside in Los Angeles. They are renting at Francilia Apartments, unit 328, 5613 Lexington Avenue, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor - Theatrical", but there are no earnings reported for 1939 ... and their daughters are not with them:
  • Several tradezines reported the February 28, 1941 death of Desmond's wife Mary. Excerpts from the March 5, 1941 Variety: "Mary McIvor Desmond, 40, actress wife of William Desmond, died Feb. 28, in Hollywood, following a heart attack." ; "... married Desmond ... in 1919." ; "Surviving ... are daughters Mary Joanna, 20, and Elizabeth Terry Anne, 8."
  • California Death Index has a record for Mary Ellsworth McIvor Desmond - she was born August 31, 1904 in Ohio and passed away on February 28, 1941 in the Los Angeles area:
  • 1942 World War II draft registration for 64 year old William Mannion Desmond. He was born January 23, 1878 in Salamanca, New York; occupation was "Free Lance Actor"; his contact is the Screen Actors Guild, Hollywood; and his home address was 3384 Bennett Drive, North Hollywood, California:
  • had a Social Security Application and Claims Index dated August 19, 1946 for William Desmond Mannion, born January 23, 1878 in Salamanca, New York.
  • Death certificate - 71 year old William Desmond was born January 23, 1878 in New York and his parents were Richard Desmond and Joanna Murray. Occupation was "Actor - Motion Picture Studio"; he was widowed; and his residence was 715 Ventura Street, Altadena, California. He suffered from heart problems for about ten years duration and passed away from a pulmonary edema on November 2, 1949 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, Los Angeles. Death certificate informant was his oldest daughter, Mary Joanna Robertson. Funeral director was Pierce Bros. Hollywood and cremation at Chapel of the Pines.
  • California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - William Desmond was born January 23, 1878 in New York, mother's maiden name was Murray, and he passed away in the Los Angeles area on November 2, 1949:
  • November 4, 1949 Los Angeles (California) Times newspaper had a funeral notice - excerpts: "DESMOND, William, beloved father of Mary Joanna Robertson and Terry Desmond ... " ; "Services ... at Pierce Brothers' Hollywood ..."
  • An Associated Press death notice mentioned that Desmond was "Seriously ill for the last year, he resided at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Robert R. Robertson, in Altadena." (Note: Mrs. Robertson was Desmond's first daughter, Mary Joanna Desmond.)

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has info on William Desmond, wife Mary McIvor, and Desmond's father, Richard J. Mannion:
Desmond is interred at Chapel Of The Pines Crematory, Los Angeles, California:
Mary Ellsworth McIvor is interred at Los Angeles County Crematorium Cemetery, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles County, California:
Desmond's father, Richard J. Mannion, is interred at Hillside Cemetery, Scotch Plains, Union County, New Jersey. His marker reads: "Richard J. Mannion, Beloved Husband of Joanna Murray, 1857-1916":

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