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Adult Lecture Series: A Woman’s Ben-Hur: June Mathis

Dr. Thomas Slater of Indiana University of Pennsylvania spoke last night about June Mathis and her involvement with the 1925 silent film of Ben-Hur. Dr. Slater discussed June Mathis’ life and glass-ceiling-breaking career in Hollywood. In addition, he focused on Mathis’ script for Ben-Hur, which ultimately was not used.

Dr. Slater is a professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and one of the leading experts on legendary Hollywood scenario-writer June Mathis.

Mathis became one of the most influential women in Hollywood and was responsible for discovering Rudolph Valentino and making him a star. She married an Italian cinematographer and later worked for United Artists, a company co-founded by Mary Pickford. 

Mathis chose to film the silent version of Ben-Hur on site in Italy, but conflicts with director Charles Brabin created issues, as did labor issues. After the merger that created Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Mathis was removed from the film.

When she was 38, Mathis died suddenly of a heart attack while at the theater with her mother. She was buried next to Rudolph Valentino in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery.

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