The Sheik and I - The Life and Career of Agnes Ayres (hardback)
The Sheik and I - The Life and Career of Agnes Ayres
by Louise Carley Lewisson
Agnes Ayres had been in films since 1914, starting out with the Essanay Company in Chicago. After years of being in one and two reelers at Vitagraph, Agnes caught the eye of produce Jesse L. Lasky, who made her a star and as reportedly became his mistress.
Agnes rose to stardom at Paramount working with some of the silent era’s leading men such as Wallace Reid, Jack Holt, Thomas Meighan and Milton Sills. But her popularity peaked when she was cast opposite Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik, who would go on to become one of her closest friends, as well as the godfather to her only daughter. After her affair with Lasky ended, she signed a contract with Producer’s Distributing Corporation (PDC) but they reneged on her three-film contract due to her alleged weight gain, whereupon she sued the company, including its vice-president, the powerful Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille.
Although she settled the suit out of court, her career was never the same and after transitioning to now making low budget movies, as well as a decade playing vaudeville shows across the country, she died on Christmas Day in 1940 from a cerebral hemorrhage, at the age of 48, after being ill for some time.
This biography follows her life from the backroads of Illinois up to her death, and includes a comprehensive filmography of the nearly 100 movies she made during her lifetime.
Louise Carley Lewisson is the author of several books including biographies of actresses Mary Nolan and Martha Mansfield, and is currently working on her next book about the life and career of actress Wanda Hawley. She currently lives in Tampa, Florida.