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Agnes Ayers of Carbondale, Illinois in 1921

Agnes Ayers of Carbondale, Illinois in 1921

Silent Film Star Agnes Ayers of Cabrondale appears in a steamy love scene with Rudoph Valentino as The Shiek.

Born in Carbondale, Illinois, Agnes Ayres got into films in Chicago with Essanay Studios, where she was studying at school, by playing extra and bit parts in films being shot there. She achieved fame as "Lady Mayo" opposite Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik (1921), which was such a monster hit it spawned a sequel in which she also appeared, The Son of the Sheik (1926) (it was also Valentino's last picture). She retired from films in 1927 a wealthy woman, but the stock market crash of 1929 wiped her out. She returned to Hollywood to try to resume her career, but could only find work in the new "talkies" in small parts, mostly bit roles and mostly uncredited. She eventually gave up any hopes of reviving her career and left the screen again, this time to start a real-estate business in Beverly Hills, CA. She died on Christmas Day of 1940.

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