August 23rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1934, silent film actress Ruth Clifford filed for divorce from her husband, restaurant and real estate investor, James A. Cornelius, after ten years of marriage. Clifford wanted custody of their four-year old son and temporary alimony of $500 a month.

Ruth in happier times

Ruth Clifford and James A. Cornelius in Happier Times

The complaint claimed that Cornelius had beaten Clifford several times and once it had been severe enough to require the care of a doctor. The suit also accused Cornelius of committing infidelity with with a Miss Marian Elder,  a pretty secretary at his beach home at 2304 Electric Avenue in Seal Beach on August 14, 1933. (Electric Avenue once extended across Anaheim Bay and the beach house was probably destroyed when the Navy dredged Alamitos Bay and removed all the beach cottages along its shore. 

Ruth Clifford copyRuth Clifford had been a big star in the silent era, but her full credit list ranges from 1916 to 1977, including providing the voices for Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck in some Disney cartoons from the late forties and fifties. So Cornelius cheated on both Minnie and Daisy from a certain perspective. What a bum.

The divorce was finalized in 1938, Ruth Clifford would live for another sixty years.

– Michael Dobkins


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