The Early Years
Born Jay John Fox on March 3, 1883 in Gainesville, Texas, Edwin was one of three boys born to parents, Franklin Marion Fox and Sallie J. Priddy. His brothers, Franklin Finis Fox and Wallace Ware Fox were also accomplished members of the Hollywood establishment as Directors, Producers and Screen writers. Both Finis and Wallace worked directly with Edwin on many of his films.
As a young boy, Edwin became interested in the theater watching traveling medicine shows and by 1900 he was determined to become an actor. In 1910, at the age of 27, he joined the Dearborn Stock company in New York and changed his name to Edwin Carewe choosing the first name from renowned actor Edwin Booth and the last name from a character he was portraying. His debut on Broadway was with Chauncey Olcott. He also appeared in plays with Otis Skinner, Rose Coghlin and Laurette Taylor in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles.
He launched his film career in 1912 while employed as an actor with the Lubin Company of Philadelphia followed by a year later with his debut as a director with the Rolfe-Metro company 1915 production,“The Final Judgment.” starring Ethel Barrymore. Edwin was first married in 1905 to Mary Jane Mason and had two daughters, Mary Jane and Violette Carewe, aka Rita Carewe, as she was known in the movie business, appeared in several of Edwin's early films.
The Prolific Years
With an unwavering desire to head West, he migrated to Hollywood, California. During the course of his career in silent movies, Edwin directed 57
feature films, produced 19, acted in 36 and wrote screen plays for four. Some of his most acclaimed films were Joanna (1925),
Resurrection (1927 & 1931), Revenge (1928)
and Evangeline (1929).
Edwin is credited with giving early screen work to actors Warner Baxter, Wallace Beery, Gary Cooper, Francis X. Bushman and LeRoy Mason. He also worked with Ethel Barrymore and Jack Pickford, brother to Mary Pickford. He is well known as the Director who discovered Dolores del Rio. His last four silent films were self produced and released by Mary Pickford's, United Artists.
Although records of his divorce to his first wife are unknown, Edwin remarried in September, 1925 to actress Mary Akin. At the time, she was just 24 and he was 42. His first child with his second wife Mary was Sally Ann born in 1926 followed by a second child, William Edwin born in 1927. It was during his honeymoon to Mexico City that he met the actress Dolores del Rio and her husband Jaime del Rio. He convinced Jaime and Dolores to move to Hollywood where he is credited with the discovery of Dolores del Rio.
In August, 1925, Dolores signed an exclusive contract with Edwin. Her first movie with Edwin Carewe was the production “Joanna” in 1925, followed by her appearance in Pals First, High Steppers, Resurrection, Ramona and Evangeline. Shortly after William Edwin Carewe was born in 1927 and during the time when Edwin and Dolores del Rio were working together, Edwin filed for divorce in 1928 when it was widely rumored that Edwin was having an affair with Dolores. It is also noteworthy that around this same time, Dolores filed for divorce from her husband Jaime in 1928. Apparently, Edwin had aspirations to marry Dolores and become a powerful Hollywood couple. Their last film working together was the 1929 film “Evangeline.”
It was after the filming of “Evangeline.” that Edwin and Mary Akin rekindled their love for each other and remarried in 1929. In 1932,
three years after this reunification, Edwin and Mary had their last child together, my mother, Carol Lee Carewe.
The Final Years
In 1932, Edwin was charged with income tax evasion in the amount of $108,547.20, covering the period of 1926-1929. The dispute with the Treasury Department was over profits from a picture he produced abroad with Dolores del Rio. He was indicted and released on bond. Edwin Carewe directed and produced his last film, “Are We Civilized” in 1934. This was his first and only attempt at a come back and transition to talking pictures. He passed away of heart failure on January 22, 1940 at the age of 56, just shy of his 57th birthday.
Edwin Carewe is buried in Hollywood, California at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Plot Section 1, #471.a
It is important to note that Edwin Carewe was also of American Indian heritage, a fact that few knew about during his golden era. Perhaps this information may not have been in his best interest to disclose. Edwin Carewe is listed in the 1898 and 1907 Dawes Chickasaw Rolls of the 5 Civilized Tribes. There are references in the Chickasaw archives related to Edwin's father, Franklin Marion Fox and his involvement with the Chickasaw Indian Nation in Ardmore, Oklahoma. His brother Finis Fox, at 20 Yrs of age, was elected to the Chickasaw legislature and served several terms. Edwin's Chickasaw blood comes from his mother, Sallie J. Priddy, the daughter of Col James P. Priddy and Elizabeth McLish.