“I’ve tormented myself long enough, and now I am going to let avoirdupois take its course, and be natural. I’ve been beaten and starved for my art, and have wept many bitter tears, so now I’m going to luxuriate and eat my three squares a day and be happy.” – Estelle Clarke
Estelle Clarke, (IMDb says her real name was Stasia Zwolinska. However, her death record states that her name was Estelle Hedwig Zwolinski) was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1898.
Clarke was not a Hollywood discovery. Instead, she immigrated to New York City around 1922. Shortly, after her mother’s death, Clarke began looking for work as a silent film actress because she felt her voice was too poor for the stage.
After a few small roles, she signed with MGM in 1926. She had a rocky start, with newspapers reporting that she had missed quite a bit of work, thanks to a bad case of the flu. She later complained of having her scenes cut out of several films and that the studio had forced her to diet because she was considered too chubby for leading roles.
Clarke did, however, appear in a dozen or so films, sometimes as an extra, or a bit player (such as a telephone operator or house servant). In 1927, Clarke finally got a break, appearing in a supporting role in King Vidor’s The Crowd, her best part to date. Around this time, she announced that she would no longer diet.
Despite the film’s success, her career abruptly came to an end following the film’s release, as the silents began to be replaced by talkies.
It is not terribly clear what happened to Estelle Clarke between 1928 and 1936, but around 1937, she married MGM lyricist Leo Robin. The Robins lived in a sprawling mansion at 221 Conway in Holmby Hills. While there, Leo Robin wrote “Thanks for the Memories,” and “We Can’t Get Along.” However, by 1944, Estelle Robins filed for a divorce around the time her husband’s latest song, “No Love – No Nothing,” was a chart hit.
Estelle helped her soon-to-be-ex-husband find a new apartment. Judging from newspaper articles, the Robin’s divorce was amicable. Estelle Clarke Robins then dropped from the limelight, and passed away in Ventura, California, in 1982.