Helene Chadwick, was born in 1897 on Elm Street, Chadwicks, NY, which was named for her grandfather. Her parents were George W. Chadwick Jr. and Marie Louise Norton Chadwick. Her mother was a singer who performed on the stage and her father was a business man.
Helene was discovered while on a visit to New York City with her Mother. She was persuaded by an artist friend to pose for one of his paintings. A film producer saw the work and after contacting Helene, discovered she was an experienced horsewoman, which is what he needed for a film he was shooting. The film was "The Challenge" in 1916.
One of her directors was quoted: "She was one of the loveliest things I ever looked at. Marvelous profile, fine little ears, beautiful hair, splendid shoulders. An yet, even then she was a real nice girl. She is a well poised dramatic actress who may
yet astonish the world with a compelling piece of work."
She shared her bungalow home in Hollywood with her mother and her Airedale dog. Helene's first films were with the Pathe Pictures in Manhattan and from there she moved to California. She made pictures with Samuel Goldwyn, Warner Bros., Columbia, 20th Century Fox, Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Paramount. She was a star from 1920 to 1925. This was the height of her career and her salary was $2,000 per week, excellent pay for that era.
Helene on the cover of Silverscreen Magazine
Helene married producer William Wellman in 1921 and was divorced in 1923. In 1927, Wellman famously directed the movie “Wings”, which became the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture at the 1st Academy Awards ceremony.
From 1929 until 1935, she found success as a character actress when sound was being introduced to films. She was a star in silent movies but when talking movies came out she was reduced to taking roles as an extra, playing "atmospheric parts". She was always optimistic that her fortunes would turn for the better.
In 1937 she had a bit part in "A Star is Born". Her final film was “Mary Burns, Fugitive”.
Helene died in 1940 at age 42, as the result of an accident in her home, where she fell over a chair and sustained injuries to her left side and eye.