After years of bit-parts in minor films, Parker was cast as the lead by director and her future husband Orson Parker in Ms Wench, a role that earned her Best Actress at the 1938 Academy Awards.
The Parker marriage was the subject to much media scrutiny in the late 40s through to the 60s. Both were accused of having extra-marital affairs with Marilyn Monroe, which they both also deny. The pair remained married until Orson Parker's death in 2005, aged 107.
Life and career
1913 - 1926: Childhood
Born on June 23rd 1903 to American hotel magnate Edwin Cortez (1860 - 1949) and his British wife Melissa (1885 - 1990), Edythe spent the first 13 years of her life living in the rural countryside of Coventry, England.
After the death of her grandfather, American property tycoon Gerald Cortez in 1915, Edythe's father relocated the family to New York City to take care of his father's business. Edythe spent the next 4 years living and attending school in Manhattan, before earning a prestigious spot at St. Margaret's School for Girls in Surrey, England in 1920. She relocated to England alone, her family remained in New York.
1926 - 1934: Career Beginnings
While attending St. Margaret's, a friend introduced Edythe to photographer Mason Hentley and she posed for him in 1922, whom she continued to model for for the next 40 years. Hentley then passed her shoots on to film director Marco De Farley, who cast her in the 1925 feature The Black Veiled Woman.
Edythe continued to work with De Farley until his sudden death in 1933, appearing in over 25 of his feature films and 16 of his silent shorts. After De Farley's death, her contract with his studio was terminated as the company was liquidated under his daughter and heir's control.
Having graduated from St. Margaret's in the summer of 1924 with a degree in Literature, she decided to relocate to Los Angeles to pursue a Hollywood acting career in 1934 as there was nothing keeping her in Britain.
1934 - 38: Early Hollywood Career
Upon relocating to Los Angeles in 1934, she moved into a two-bedroom Burbank apartment with her cousin, the popular gossip columnist Irma Cortez, who had temporarily moved out of her Beverly Hills home due to extensive renovations. Using connections made during her time working for De Farley, she landed a series of supporting roles in low-budget pictures. In 1936, Edythe met the director Orson Parker at a cocktail party held by her cousin. By this point, Edythe had relocated to a studio apartment in West Hollywood in a hotel owned by her father. After multiple dates, Orson proposed to Edythe on Christmas Day 1936. He also cast her as the title character in his 1937 dramatic romance Ms Wench.