Caroline Louise Dudley Biography

Caroline Louise Dudley (June 10, 1857 – November 13, 1937) was an American silent film and stage actress who used her married name, Mrs. Leslie Carter, as her stage name to spite her former husband. She was called "The American Sarah Bernhardt".

Caroline Dudley was born in Lexington, Kentucky. The exact date is not known but research points more accurately to the year 1857. Her father was Orson Dudley, a wholesale dry goods merchant of means, who gave to his daughter every advantage that money could bestow. Her mother was Catherine Dudley. Most of her childhood was spent in Dayton, Ohio. She aspired to the stage from childhood, but for family reasons she never appeared publicly, even at amateur entertainments.

At the time of her 1880 marriage in Dayton to lawyer Leslie Carter, a Chicago millionaire, she was considered a great belle, as she was a strikingly beautiful girl with great vivacity. They had one child, a son, Dudley Carter. In 1887 she filed for divorce on the grounds of physical assault and abandonment, but in 1889, Mr. Carter obtained the divorce naming actor, H. Kyrle Bellew, as correspondent. Son Dudley chose to live with his mother and was cut out of his father's will as a result. Press coverage of the trial was suppressed, but the filing and results were front page scandal.