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Dorothy Cumming

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Dorothy Cumming
Publicity photo of Cumming from Who's Who on the Screen (1920)
Born(1894-04-12)12 April 1894
Died10 December 1983(1983-12-10) (aged 89)
Years active1915–1929
Frank Elliott
(m. 1922; div. 1927)

Allan McNab
(m. 1932)

Dorothy Greville Cumming (12 April 1894 – 10 December 1983)[1][2] was an actress of the silent film era. She appeared in 39 American, English, and Australian films between 1915 and 1929, notably appearing as the Virgin Mary in Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 film The King of Kings and the jealous wife in Lillian Gish's 1928 The Wind. She also appeared in stage productions in those same countries.

Childhood and early career

Dorothy Greville Cumming was born in Boorowa, New South Wales. Her father, Victor Albert Cumming, born in 1859 in Brisbane, Queensland, was an officer of the Lands Department and also owned Narrangullen sheep station, near Yass. Her mother was the former Sarah T. Fennell. Her paternal grandparents, Frederick Cumming and Agnes Jane Stuart, were born in Scotland and England, respectively.[3]

The family moved to Sydney around 1904, settling in the Sydney suburb of Woollahra. There, while a student at Ascham School, Dorothy attended elocution and acting lessons, appearing on stage from 1907.[4] In 1911 she appeared with Enid Bennett in J. C. Williamson's production Everywoman.[5]

In 1915 she appeared in the 6 reel J.C. Williamson film Within our Gates, or Deeds that Won Gallipoli, a spy drama directed by English actor-director Frank Harvey. At this time Williamsons made a handful of films using their own actors, in response to the threat of increasing American imports, including Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford and Officer 666, directed by Fred Niblo.[6] Determined to follow a career in film, Cumming departed for the US in mid 1916.[5]

Cumming had three full siblings, including two sisters who also moved to the United States. Rose Cumming became a prominent American interior decorator,[7] and Eileen Cumming an advertising executive, who married rheumatologist Dr. Russell LaFayette Cecil. Cumming also had several half-siblings from her mother's first marriage.


Cumming was married twice. Her husbands were:

  • Frank Elliott Dakin (married 4 April 1922, separated 1925, divorced 9 December 1927), a stage director known professionally as Frank Elliott. They had two sons, each of whom took his mother's maiden name after their parents' divorce: Anthony "Tony" Cumming and Lt. Greville C. E. Cumming (1921–1944).[8]
  • Allan McNab (born 1901), married 2 August 1932. He was a British artist and designer who became the art director of Life, worked as design director for Norman Bel Geddes, and became the director of administration of the Art Institute of Chicago.


She died in New York City in 1983.

Selected filmography


  1. ^ The Burrowa News 13 April, 1894 (NSW : 1874 - 1951) Accessed 20 December 2015
  2. ^ "Dorothy Cumming in the Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922". Ancestry. Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922. 1994. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Victor Albert Cumming". Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  4. ^ State Library of New South Wales, Grant family Photo Album Record
  5. ^ a b Desley Deacon, 2013. "From Victorian Accomplishment to Modern Profession: Elocution Takes Judith Anderson, Sylvia Bremer and Dorothy Cumming to Hollywood, 1912-1918." Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies, Vol 18, No.1, p. 40-65, Oct. 2013. ISSN 1327-8746. Accessed 6 January 2017
  6. ^ Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper (1980) Australian Film 1900-1977. p 72-73. Oxford University Press, Melbourne. ISBN 0 19 554213 4
  7. ^ "The Peak of Chic; Musings on Stylish Living" Nov 19, 2008
  8. ^ "Guide to the Rose Cumming, Russell L. Cecil, and Affiliated Families, Photographs and Papers 1870s-2012 (PR 393)". Retrieved 3 September 2021.
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Dorothy Cumming
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