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The ⁣Short-Lived Chicago Film Career of Mary MacLane

In the one movie she made in Chicago, the openly bisexual author-actress "bares her very soul."

In February 1918, openly bisexual author Mary MacLane starred in the silent movie Men Who Have Made Love to Me, released by Chicago’s Essanay Studios.⁣

Mary MacLane wrote her first book, The Story of Mary MacLane, at age 19. Shocking, confessional, and banned in some cities, her diary-like book sold extremely well, over 100,000 copies in the first month alone.⁣

MacLane’s third novel caught the attention of George Spoor, who ran Essanay Studios in Chicago. The two made one movie together, Men Who Have Made Love to Me (1918), adapted for the screen by MacLane from her own short story. Like about 75% of silent films, MacLane’s 90-minute movie is now thought to be lost.⁣

In the 1920s, Mary MacLane moved to a predominately black neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, where her companion, a black artist named Harriet Williams, cared for her until her death at age 48. ⁣

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Read more about Mary MacLane’s fascinating life and short-lived film career at Columbia University’s Women Film Pioneers Project.


Images: Wikimedia Commons; Central Jersey Home News (24 Feb 1918).⁣

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