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Jewel Carmen (July 13, 1897March 4, 1984) was an American silent film actress.

Born Florence Lavina Quick on July 13, 1897 in Danville, Kentucky, Carmen made her film debut in the 1912 film The Will of Destiny. She went on to appear in Daphne and the Pirate (1916) opposite Lillian Gish, and in D. W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916). Carmen also appeared in films for Keystone Studios, including The Ragtime Band, as Evelyn Quick in around 1913. On 30 April 1913, she lodged a police complaint that two car salesmen had forced her into delinquency, and further stated she was 15 years of age. Investigations centered around a blackmail and white slavery ring, in which Quick was involved. It later transpired she was 23 years old, and the charges were dropped. No Keystone people were involved, but most of the studio's actors and directors departed for Mexico at this time, only returning when the case was dropped.

In 1917, Carmen contracted with Fox Film Corporation, but finding the deal unsatisfactory, she opened a new contract with the Keeney Corporation in 1918 while her first contract remained in effect. Fox sent Keeney notice of their prior contract, warning that they would hold Keeney responsible for assisting her in breaking it, and promising to indemnify Keeney against legal retaliation. Carmen launched two lawsuits against Fox, one to attempt to free herself of the obligation of living up to her contract and another to seek redress for their interference with her contract with Keeney.

Key to the issues was the question of where the contracts had been made: New York or California. Fox's offices were located in New York; Carmen was a resident of California. By California law, Carmen was an adult at the time of signing the contract; by New York law, which granted majority at 21, she was not. If not an adult, she could not be legally held to the document she had signed. Though Carmen initially won the first lawsuit, having the contracts set aside and receiving damages of $43,500 from Fox, the decision was overturned on appeal because she had "unclean" hands, having herself treated Fox unfairly. However, she won her second case because Fox's interference with her employment with Keeney had been outside the law, though Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo made clear that he did not approve of the legal loophole that allowed Carmen to break her contract with Fox.

Carmen later became known for her connection to the scandal surrounding the death of actress Thelma Todd. She was the wife of Roland West, who had an extramarital affair with Todd and who came under suspicion following Todd's death of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Todd died in a garage at Castillo del Mar, the former home of Carmen and West, where Carmen's parents were living. There were a number of factors which made the death suspicious, including that Todd was allegedly spotted or spoken to several times the day after she died; Carmen herself testified before the grand jury that she had seen Todd somewhere with another man. After the scandal broke, Carmen's marriage to West ended, and she retired from the public eye.

Carmen died of lymphoma on March 4, 1984 at the age of 86.

Filmography

  • Jewel Carmen Filmography
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