Margaret Shelby ~ Mary Miles Minter's Tragic Sister

Margaret Shelby

Margaret Shelby was a silent film actress and the older sister of Mary Miles Minter

 She was born Alma Margaret Reilly on June 16, 1900 in San Antonio, Texas. When she was a child her parents divorced. Her mother, Charlotte Selby, was a domineering woman who pushed Margaret and her younger sister Mary Miles Minter to go into show business. At the age of twelve made her film debut in the silent short Billie. Then she had roles in the films Faith, Her Country's Call, and Wives and Other Wives. Her performances got good reviews but she never became as successful as her sister Mary. In 1922 Mary became a suspect when her lover William Desmond Taylor was murdered. Their mother Charlotte also became a suspect in his death. Although they were never charged with a crime the scandal destroyed the family's reputation Margaret was a big animal lover who adopted dozens of stray dogs. She married Hugh Fillmore, a manufacturer, in 1925. They divorced two years later. Her final film was the 1928 drama Clothes Make The Woman.

Margaret ShelbyMargaret Shelby

By this time she was suffering from depression and had developed a serious drinking problem. In 1936 her mother unsuccessfully tried to have her declared insane. Margaret eloped with director Emmett J. Flynn on 1937. While driving home from their honeymoon she was arrested for drunk driving. Unfortunately Emmett was an alcoholic who had not legally divorced his last wife. Just six weeks after the wedding she filed for an annulment. Then she sued her mother Charlotte claiming that she had stolen more than $45,000 from her. During the headline making trial she publicly accused Charlotte of murdering William Desmond Taylor. The jury awarded her $20,000. Sadly her health quickly deteriorated due to her alcoholism. On December 21, 1939 she died at the young age of thirty-nine. She was cremated and buried at Forest Lawn Memorial park in Glendale, California. During the 1950s her sister Mary removed the ashes and had them scattered.

Margaret ShelbyMargaret Shelby Mary Miles Minter Article