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Willard Mack

Personal information
Birth nameCharles McLaughlin
Birth dateSeptember 18, 1873
Place of birthMorrisburg, Ontario, Canada
Date of deathNovember 18, 1934(age 61)
Death placeBrentwood, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, director, playwright
SpouseMarjorie Rambeau
(1913-1917) (divorced)
Pauline Frederick
(1917-1919) (divorced)

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Willard Mack (September 18, 1873 November 18, 1934) was a Canadian-born actor, director, and playwright.

Born Charles McLaughlin, in Morrisburg, Ontario, at an early age his family moved to Brooklyn, New York. After two years, they relocated to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where McLaughlin finished high school. His parents returned to Canada but he went on to study at Georgetown University in Washington, D. C. where he became involved in student plays. Adopting the stage name, Willard Mack, after graduation he took minor acting jobs for a few years and did Shakespearian repertoire. However, writing scripts was what he was most interested in and his second effort about the North-West Mounted Police titled "In Wyoming" proved to be a commercial success. It would later be used as a basis for the screenplay for his film "Nanette of the Wilds." Throughout his life Willard Mack frequently returned to Canada. Some of his other plays, including "Tiger Rose" and "The Scarlet Fox," were set in northern Alberta. The silent film "The Battle of Gettysburg", was set in Malibu, California, in 1913.

A prolific writer, in 1914 he made his acting debut on Broadway in a play he had written. Over the next fourteen years he would write a further twenty-two Broadway productions, acting in ten of them, and producing four. For a time, Willard Mack operated a stock company with actress Maude Leone. In the mid 1920s, he met an aspiring stage actress named Ruby Stevens hired as a chorus girl for his new play. Mack coached Stevens's acting and rewrote parts of the play to expand her role then convinced her to change her name to Barbara Stanwyck.

During his time on Broadway, Willard Mack began writing for motion pictures and although he performed in fifteen films and directed four, he was primarily a writer. At first he remained on the East Coast but later moved to Los Angeles. A number of his plays were made into motion pictures and between 1916 and 1953 he was involved with the writing of more than seventy film scripts.

Starting out in silent film, he made his talkie debut as actor, director and co-writer of the 1929 film "Voice of the City." In 1933 he directed the acclaimed drama film, "What Price Innocence?" then wrote and directed Broadway to Hollywood, a backstage musical spanning nearly five decades that recounts the struggles of a vaudeville family.

In 1913, Willard Mack married actress Marjorie Rambeau. Divorced in 1917, he immediately married actress/dancer Pauline Frederick whom he had met a year earlier while appearing in a film together. Their marriage was short-lived, and they divorced in 1919.

Willard Mack's writing success made him a wealthy man. He died in Brentwood Heights, California in 1934.

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