Philpott, Margaret (1903–1990)

By: John H. Slate

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: August 5, 2020

Margaret Philpott [pseud. Madge Bellamy], motion picture and stage actress, was born in Hillsboro, Texas, on June 30, 1903, to Annie Derden and William Bledsoe Philpott. After her stage debut at age five, her family moved to Denver, and then to San Antonio, where she was educated at St. Mary's Hall. She subsequently pursued an acting career, appeared in New York productions, and attracted national attention in the title role in the road show Pollyanna. She made her screen debut in The Riddle: Woman for Pathé in 1920. In a motion-picture career spanning twenty-six years, she performed in some sixty features and one serial. Though primarily a lead in light drama and comedies, she was no stranger to horror and western films. Among the titles most associated with her are King Vidor's Love Never Dies (1921), Lorna Doone (1922), John Ford's western The Iron Horse (1924), and the horror classic White Zombie (1932). Although Madge Bellamy's successes were mostly in the silent era of the 1920s, she proved able to continue into the early sound period, as evidenced in Tonight at Twelve (1929) and White Zombie. After partially retiring in 1935, she appeared in several small roles. She was married in 1928 in Tijuana, Baja California, to bond broker Logan Metcalf, but filed for divorce four days later. In 1943 she was convicted of firearms violations after taking three failed shots at an alleged lover, lumberman Albert Stanwood Murphy. The following year, in a court case over a contested "mutual agreement" with Murphy, Bellamy received a multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlement. She spent her later years as a recluse in several residences in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where she worked on an unfinished autobiography, I Was Madge Bellamy. She made her last public appearance in November 1989 at a screening of The Iron Horse at the Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles. After several weeks' hospitalization for cardiac problems, Madge Bellamy died on January 24, 1990, in Upland, California.

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Charles D. Fox, Famous Film Folk (New York: Doran, 1925). Motion Picture Almanac, 1933 (New York: Quigley, 1933). Variety, January 31, 1990.


  • Women
  • Performing Arts

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

John H. Slate, “Philpott, Margaret,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995
August 5, 2020

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