Movies Way Back When – Mae Murray, or Mae Rooned?

Image: Motography, March 18, 1916 (Courtesy)

Dateline – March 1916

A silent movie crew filming “To Have and to Hold” off the shore of Santa Catalina Island lost the movie’s leading actress for a while. “Mae Murray was left all night on a rock during a storm at Catalina . . . Now they call her ‘Mae Rooned.’” – Motography, March 4, 1916

Here’s how it happened:
“In two vessels, they went to Church Rock. Early in the afternoon, the sky began to look like rain, and Director George Melford decided upon a return to Avalon. Those in each vessel thought Miss Murray was in the other, and it was not until 8:00 that night, sometime after their arrival at Avalon, that they learned definitely that she had not left the rock with either party.

“Melford and Wallace Reid headed a rescue party in a launch . . . it was raining heavily, and they found Miss Murray vainly trying to obtain some shelter from the storm as she crouched by the side of the rock. She was so cold and wet and exhausted that they found it necessary to lash her to the skiff.” – Moving Picture World, February 12, 1916

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Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at

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