The Tracy Family History
Dorothy Dwan, "femme fatal"
“She belongs to Joseph Wallace,
descended from my grandmother’s brother.”
Michael Woods Sr., of Blair Park, marries Lady Mary Campbell. They have a daughter...
Martha Woods, my 6th great grandmother and sister to Magdelene. Martha marries Peter Wallace Jr. They have a son...
John Wallace marries Jane Miller. They have a son...
Joseph Wallace marries Amelia Landrum. They have a son...
Thomas Wallace marries Hannah Hibbs. They have a son...
Joseph Wallace, brother to 100-year-old Siotha, marries Nancy Laury Briscoe. They have a daughter...
Nancy Dorothy Wallace who marries Chas Melvin Illgenfritz. They have a daughter...
Dorothy Bell Illgenfritz, known as Dorothy Dwan.
Even this one caught Mildred Bailey by surprise. Mildred did not know this famous silent film star was in the family until she helped go through some estate papers 20 years go.
Dorothy was born in Sedalia, Missouri in 1906, the daughter of Nancy Wallace “...a descendant of Sir William Wallace, the Scottish patriot.”
Her father was Melvin Illgenfritiz, who descended from Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
This tells us two things: This is the first time I have come across a German marrying one of our Scotch-Irish Wallace's; second, I see why our cousin did not use her family name for her stage name.
The family must have had money, as she was educated in Philadelphia.
When her acting career started is not known. Her first film credit is 1922, which would make her a very young 16-year-old girl.
In 1924, she marries her film director. This obviously helped her career, as she now becomes a rising star. The pressure of Hollywood was to much for her husband and he had a nervous breakdown. Weakened in body and mind, the marriage ended with the director husband dying in 1928 of pneumonia.
She would have a short career with her last film being produced in 1930. Dorothy would have been a young 24-year-old when her career ended. In this same year she marries an oil-company executive, has one son, and is divorced in 1935. She was still living in Hollywood at the time.
Then she moves to Kansas City, Missouri and becomes a registered nurse, marries for the third time and divorces again.
It is then back to California where she becomes a realtor. She dies in Ventura in 1981 of lung cancer.
Dorothy Dwan was not a type-cast actress and played roles which covered comedy, westerns, and melodramas. She appeared in the 1925 silent version of "The Wizards of Oz," and on screen with the likes of Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, Adolph Menjou, and Conrad Nagel.
Surprisingly, some of her films are available today on video.
Mildred Bailey knew the great aunt who lived 20 miles away in Warrensburg. When the aunt died 20 years ago, Mildred helped sort through the possessions of the estate, and came across an old yellowed publication (“Available at leading hotels, news stands 25 cents – on train 30 cents...”). On the cover of this publication was this photo. It was only then that Mildred Bailey, who knows everything, found out about this famous cousin.
This gives me three movie stars in my family tree: Dorothy Dwan, on my Wallace line, and Tom Hanks (chapter11) on my Moon line, and another actress yet to come in chapter 76.
In February, 2008, I received the 1925 version of "The Wizard of Oz" through Netflix. It stars Dorothy Dwan as Dorothy and also has Oliver Hardy.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my
Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net