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Dorothy Clark

Biography: 

Dorothy Clark [Elms] (1905-19 )

Dancer Dorothy Clark enjoyed her most protracted public notice as party to a law suit filed by her mother Ethel against film actor Herbert Rawlinson. The episode may have been an extortion racket, but Rawlinson's culpability is difficult to gauge. The tale began in 1915 when Ethel took ten (maybe eleven) year old Dorothy to Hollywood to see if the child beauty could get into pictures. They met Rawlinson and a 'palship' grew up between the girl and the older actor. Clark performed a handful of child roles in a half dozen films in 1916 and 1917 before her film career sputtered. (She should not be confused with her contemporary "Dorothy Love Clark" who played in Rex Ingram's "Humdrum Brown."} In the meantime the correspondence she struck up with Rawlinson became increasingly more affectionate and suggestive. A diary Dorothy kept during these years documents the connection. Meanwhile Dorothy launched a vaudeville career as a dancer, first in an unsuccessful sister actor, then as a featured dancer in vaudeville sketches, before landing in 1920 a role in the Hippodrome. She was then 15. At this juncture she asserted that Rawlinson "overcame" her in a hotel room. Two years later the mother filed suit in Los Angeles seeking $200,000. At various times Dorothy changed her story during the proceedings, and complicated matters somewhat by marrying piano salesman Timothy Elms. In 1923 the judge suggested that Rawlinson pay Dorothy Clark Elms $50 a week for four years to drop the suit. Clark at the time was appearing in the Revue "Tip Top," her last professional engagement as a performer.