By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
While the “Texas in Film” series covers the various films based and shot in Texas, for 2021 and beyond the series coverage will further explore notable filmmakers, actors, and theaters located in the Lone Star State.
Jacqueline Medura Logan, considered one of the most popular film stars of the 1920s, was born in Corsicana on Nov. 30, 1904. While her early local history is largely undocumented (some sources state her date of birth as 1901), her father, Charles A. Logan, was a noted architect, and her mother, Marion Logan, was an opera singer with the Boston Conservatory.
Logan took after her mother musically (who also worked as a vocal teacher between her opera work), having her own singing background, and could play the piano and pipe organ.
During her childhood, she had moved to Scottsbluff, Nebraska where she briefly studied journalism and worked as a newspaper reporter. She later studied under sportswriter Ford Frick in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before joining an acting troupe en route to Chicago.
While this production began the start of promising entertainment career for Logan, there was only one problem…. the young entertainer had lied to both her parents (saying she was college bound and visiting her uncle) and to the production (saying she was older than she really was).
Upon discovery of her misrepresented age, the production let Logan go from her dancing gig, where she then made her way to New York. At 16 years old, Logan made her theatrical debut in 1920’s Florodora, having been “hand-picked” by American Broadway impresario, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. Between dancing, Logan also modeled as a Dobbs Girl for Alfred Cheney Johnston photographs.
Her dancing career as a Ziegfeld girl lasted until 1921, where she moved to Hollywood to begin a silent film career. After meeting actor Ben Lyon, Logan starred in her first film, A Perfect Crime (1921).
For the next decade, Logan starred in dozens of films. Some of her most notable titles included: Burning Sands (1922) Java Head (1923), Code of the Sea (1924), The House of Youth (1924 – Considered her first “starring” film), Footloose Widow (1926), and Blood Ship (1927).
Also in 1927, Logan played a critically acclaimed role as Mary Magdalene in Cecil B. DeMille’s film, The King of Kings. The film was notable for breaking all previous audience attendance records, and was continuously shown around the world for decades after its release.
However, her career faced a new and unexpected challenge: The advent of sound pictures. “Talkies” were starting to replace the silent cinema, and several actors and actresses could not make the transition. Logan, however, briefly survived this change, starring in Show of Shows (1929), Symphony in Two Flats (1930), and Shadows (1931).
Logan later traveled abroad, making her way to England and performed on the live stage in Smoky Cell. In 1930, she acted in the English film The Middle Watch, where she was awarded a Command Performance.
Her time in England also allowed her another rare opportunity for American women of the time: British International Pictures gave her a chance to write her own screenplay Knock-Out (1931), which she immediately followed with a dual writer and director position for the British comedy, Strictly Business (1931).
By 1931, Logan’s film work ended after she returned to America. While some studios such as Columbia Pictures appreciated her work, they were simply unwilling to back another female director (Dorothy Arzner was the only American female director during Hollywood’s “Golden Age” of the 1920’s to 1940’s).
Logan’s later career also included a few Broadway credits such as Two Strange Women (1933) and Merrily We Roll Along (1934). By 1934, however, Logan’s time as a star and stage performer had largely come to an end.
In 1973, Logan came out of retirement to do one last film, Secrets of a Door-to-Door Salesman, before settling to her homes in Southern California and Central Florida, spending her days with political activism. At age 78, Jacqueline Logan passed in her Melbourne, Florida home on April 4, 1983. Her gravesite is located in the Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur, Illinois.