Marie Prevost was born Marie Bickford Dunn on November 8, 1898, in Sarnia, Ontario. When she was a baby her father was killed in a tragic accident. Her mother remarried and the family eventually settled in California. In 1915 Marie got a job working as a secretary. While running an errand at Keystone studios she was asked to do a bit part in the movie Those Bitter Sweets. Mack Sennett was impressed and hired her to be one of his bathing beauties. During this time she also worked as a nude model. She secretly married socialite Henry Gerke in 1918 but they split up a few months later. After appearing in numerous comedies she was offered a contract at Warner Brothers for $1,500 a week. She earned rave reviews for her performances in The Beautiful and Damned and The Marriage Circle. Howard Hughes gave her the lead in The Racket and they enjoyed a passionate affair.Marie began a highly publicized romance with actor Kenneth Harlan and they announced their engagement. This caused a scandal when her estranged husband filed for divorce.
The press claimed Marie was going to be a bigamist and the negative publicity tarnished her image. She and Kenny were finally able to get married after she obtained a divorce. In 1926 Warner Brothers decided not to renew her contract and Marie was devastated when her mother was killed in a car accident. She began binge eating and drinking to deal with her depression. After several separations she and Kenny divorced in 1929. Marie continued to act but could only get minor roles in films like Party Girl and Paid. On January 21, 1937 she died from acute alcoholism and malnutrition. Her body was not discovered for two days and false rumors spread that her dog began eating her body. Marie was only thirty-eight years old. Her close friend Joan Crawford paid for the funeral. She was cremated and her ashes were given to her sister.