Phyllis Haver, a small-town Kansas girl, moved to Los Angeles at a young age. Upon her graduation from high school, she played piano to accompany silent films in local theaters. She was bitten by the show business bug.
She got an audition with producer Mack Sennett. Taken by her charm and beauty, Sennett hired her as one of his original “Sennett Bathing Beauties,” an assembly of young ladies featured in comedy shorts and promotional appearances. The “Sennett Bathing Beauties” also included Gloria Swanson and Mabel Normand. Soon, Phyllis was a leading lady at Sennett Studios. After signing a contract with rival DeMille-Pathé Studios, Phyllis was cast as “Roxie Hart” in the first film adaptation of the play Chicago. She received rave reviews, with critics calling her performance “astounding,” and “a most entertaining piece of work.” Later she worked with legendary director D.W. Griffith and famed silent film actor Lon Chaney.
In 1929, Phyllis married millionaire William Seeman in the home of popular cartoonist Rube Goldberg. The couple were married by then-New York City Mayor James Walker. Phyllis retired from acting soon after, but the marriage ended in divorce after 16 years. Phyllis wanted a quiet life and she felt Seeman’s lifestyle was too erratic.
Years later, Phyllis moved to secluded Sharon, Connecticut. In 1960, at the age of 61, Phyllis took her own life with a lethal dose of barbiturates.