Evelyn Nelson & Her Heartbreaking Suicide

Evelyn Nelson

Evelyn Nelson was a silent film starlet who fell in love with Wallace Reed and took her own life

She born Dorris Evelyn Nelson on November 13, 1899 in Chloride, Arizona. Her father, William Nelson, was a miner and cattle owner. When she was a child her family moved to Lake Elsinore, California. A few years later they relocated to Los Angeles. At the age of nineteen she began her acting career with the Bulls-Eye Film Company. Evelyn appeared in several comedies directed by Charley Chase including Don't Park Here. In 1920 she was signed by Vitagraph and co-starred with Oliver Hardy in the films The Backyard and The Decorator. Then she was chosen to be Jack Hoxie's leading lady in the 1921 western Cyclone Bliss. She would make ten more films with Jack including The Crow's Nest, The Desert Bridegroom, and Two-Fisted Jefferson.

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Evelyn Nelson Blanche White
With Blanche White

Evelyn's performances got positive reviews and her future seemed bright. In an interview she said "The studio belt is naturally steeped in an atmosphere of artificiality. If one lives there too long one becomes unreal." After her parents divorced she moved into an apartment at 6231 De Longpre Avenue in Los Angeles with her mother. Her older sister Pauline Nelson became an actress too. In 1922 Evelyn began a passionate affair with married actor Wallace Reid. He quickly ended the relationship because he was fearful it would ruin his career. Tragically in January of 1923 Wallace died from influenza. She was devastated by his death and fell into a deep depression. Evelyn was being forced to work long hours at the studio. By the time she finished filming Desert Rider in June of 1923 she was physically and emotionally exhausted.

Evelyn Nelson Jack HoxieEvelyn Nelson Jack Hoxie
With Jack Hoxie

Evelyn Nelson Jack Hoxie

Tragically on June 16, 1923 she committed suicide by turning on the gas in her apartment. She was only twenty-three years old. Her mother discovered her dead body in the kitchen. Evelyn left two suicide notes for her family. The first note said "I'm tired, oh so tired. Life has beaten me. It is a hopeless, tiresome, useless struggle. Struggles, disappointment, sadness - what's the use? Goodbye". A second note said "I'm going - it's nearly over - soon to my friends - peace - my pal Wally Reid. Farewell." Her family said that in her final days she had been in good spirits. Dozens of friends and admirers attended her funeral service. She was buried in an unmarked grave at Rosedale cemetery in Los Angeles, California. In 2022 her fans raised the money to finally buy her a headstone!

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Evelyn Nelson Suicide