The Nell Shipman Exhibit
Doctors House - Master Bedroom
Nell, or Helen Barham, as was her given name, writes lovingly of her parents, and
this was their bedroom. Tragically both of them died while residents in the house.
When Nell came out of her influenza-induced coma, she learned that her 55-year-old
mother had contracted the illness and died from it. Three months later her father
suffered a fatal stroke. At the time, Nell was near the Arctic Circle filming
Back to God's Country. The Los Angeles Daily Times reported
on the death of the famous movie star's father, noting, "there is no way of carrying
the sad message to Miss Shipman except by dog train and across more than 400 miles
of snow and ice."
Nell was not able to be with her parents at their deaths or at their funerals at
Forest Lawn, a tragedy which she refers to in The Silent Screen as
creating, "a tidal wave of sorrow [that] lasts for decades."
She attributes to her father her love of storytelling, skills in outdoors survival,
and swimming abilities. She writes with gratitude towards her mother for supporting
her early ambition to act. When she left home at the age of 13 to join a traveling
theatrical company, her mother went along to sew and cook for her.
Early Years on Stage
Collage of Shipman in vaudeville and in stock companies, where she acted, sang,
and played the piano. Nell Shipman Archives, Boise State University.
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Last modified: Tuesday, June 05, 2012 2:50:36 PM