On This Day – January 16th

Jessalyn Van Trump

Jessalyn Van Trump was born in Ohio on this day in 1887.  Her mother,  Mary E. Hardin (1862-1945), was a native of Ohio. Her father was Dr. A.P. Van Trump (1849-1905). Born in Virginia, he was a well respected doctor working out of St. John’s, Ohio. Jessalyn had only one sibling, an elder sister named Clo, born in Ohio on October 1, 1883.

In 1905, the Van Trump family relocated to Los Angeles, California. That same year, Jessalyn’s father passed away at the age of 56.

Jessalyn began acting in theatre in the early 1900s. She made the transition to motion pictures in 1911.  Her film debut is believed to have been in a Lubin production called Alice’s Sacrifice, in which she played Alice.

She left Lubin and went over to the American Film Manufacturing Company to play alongside western actor, J. Warren Kerrigan. She made numerous shorts with American, most of them directed by Allan Dwan and costarring Kerrigan.

When Kerrigan and Allan Dwan decided to abandon the American Film Manufacturing Company in 1913 in favor of Bison Film Company, Rex Motion Picture Company and Victor Film Company, Jessalyn went with them. She and Kerrigan continued to star in shorts together, but it was at Rex that she got to star opposite a new leading man, Wallace Reid.

In 1914, Jessalyn joined the Majestic Film Company. She made several shorts with Majestic, but the roles seemed to be dwindling. Between 1915 and 1920 she only appeared in a handful of pictures. Newspapers touted The Girl in the Rain (1920) as her comeback. Unfortunately, it was not. She only made a couple more shorts before retiring from films in 1928.

On another note, Jessalyn’s sister Clo also appeared in silent movies. It is unknown how many exactly, but she was credited in at least two and had a bit part in a third. She appeared in Judy of Rogue’s Harbor (1920) a Mary Miles Minter film, directed by the ill-fated William Desmond Taylor.

Clo married Edward Fryer King (1886-1961). He was a car salesman. From what I can surmise, Jessalyn never married and neither sister ever had children. In 1910, both Jessalyn and their mother Mary lived with Clo and her husband. Mary appeared to have gotten her own place after that, but Jessalyn continued to live with them until at least 1930 and I suspect up until her death on May 2, 1939. Clo passed away in Los Angeles on Mar. 14, 1958.

Jessalyn, Clo and their parents are interred in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

The Wandering Gypsy

The Wandering Gypsy (1912)

The Romance

The Romance (1913) J. Warren Kerrigan and Jessalyn Van Trump