Agnes Ayres

Agnes Ayres

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Agnes Ayres

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Agnes Ayres (April 4, 1892 – December 25, 1940) was an American actress who rose to fame during the silent film era. She was best known for her role as Lady Diana Mayo in The Sheik and The Son of the Sheik opposite Rudolph Valentino.

Early life and career

Born as Agnes Eyre Henkel in Carbondale, Illinois to Solon and Emma Slack Henkel on April 4, 1892. She also had an older brother named Solon William Henkel born in 1888. She began her career in 1914 when she was noticed by an Essanay Studios staff director and cast as an extra in a crowd scene. After moving to New York City with her mother to pursue a career in acting, Ayres was spotted by actress Alice Joyce. Joyce noticed the physical resemblance the two shared which eventually led to Ayres being cast in Richard the Brazen (1917), as Joyce's character's sister. Ayres' career began to gain momentum when Paramount Pictures founder Jesse Laksy began to take an interest in her. Lasky gave her a starring role in the Civil War drama Held by the Enemy (1920), and also lobbied for parts for her in several Cecil B. DeMille productions. It was during this time that Ayres married, and quickly divorced, Captain Frank P. Schuker, an army officer whom she had wed during World War I. She also began a romance with Lasky.

In 1921, Ayres shot to stardom when she was cast as Lady Diana Mayo, an English heiress opposite "Latin lover" Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik. Ayres later...
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