Mary Miles Minter
Early Years

Mary Miles Minter was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on April Fools day in 1902, as Juliet Reilly. She was the youngest of two daughters by J. Homer Reilly and Lily Pearl Miles Reilly. Her parents separated when Juliet was about 5 years old. Her mother took the name of Charlotte Shelby. Juliet Reilly became Juliet Shelby, and her older sister, Margaret Shelby. Charlotte considered herself to have talent as an actress, and the Shelby's wound up in New York. Charlotte did work on stage, but only in supporting roles. The Shelby's were in New York for about a year when little Juliet caught the attention of Broadway producer, Charlie Frohman. So it happened that Juliet became a legitimate stage actress at 6 years old.

Juliet's best known performances on Broadway were in "The Littlest Rebel", in which she appeared with William Farnum. She also managed to appear in her first film during the same time. "The Nurse" was released in 1912 and featured little Juliet Shelby. Charlotte quickly realized who the talent in the family was and abandoned her own aspirations in order to devote herself to Juliet's career. Margaret acted as well, but on a back seat to Juliet. It was clear who the star of the family was. It was shortly after the release of "The Nurse" that little Juliet finally acquired the name Mary Miles Minter. She had caught the attention of the "ever vigilant" Gerry Society. Juliet's mother, the "more vigilant" Charlotte, merely borrowed the birth certificate of a deceased niece. So it was that in 1911, before opening in Chicago, little 9 year old Juliet Shelby finally became known as 17 year old Mary Miles Minter (Marie Milles Minter). The Gerry Society was fooled, and she worked in "The Littlest Rebel" until 1914. She was an actual 12 years old at the time, and had outgrown her role. Charlotte had bigger plans for Mary by then.

Perhaps Charlotte was impressed with motion pictures or perhaps she was like many others in New York who realized the publicity to be had by any actress appearing on film. Whatever the reason, Charlotte pursued a movie career for Mary at that time. Mary's second film appearance was in the 1915 release of "The Fairy and the Waif". For Mary, it was another success. Charlotte saw no reason to change course after the reviews and had Mary Miles Minter signed under contract with Metro Pictures. The good reviews continued. The contract called for 6 pictures, of which 5 were actually released.The sixth film was scrapped after production. The ever tactful Charlotte had angered Louis B. Mayer prior to the release of the finished product and it was never distributed. But it would not be the last of Mary Miles Minter......