May McAvoy was an American actress, who worked mainly during the silent film era. She starred in Hollywood’s revolutionary part talking film: The Jazz Singer.
McAvoy made her film debut in 1917. After appearing in more than three dozen films, she co-starred with Ram%C3%B3n Novarro and Francis X. Bushman in director Fred Niblo’s 1925 production of Ben-Hur released by MGM. The feature length film was one of the most lavish and spectacular productions of the silent movie era. She later starred with Al Jolson in the first sound film, The Jazz Singer. Although her voice was not heard in that film, she did speak in several other films, including the second “all-talkie” released by Warner Brothers, The Terror, directed by Roy Del Ruth and co-starring Conrad Nagel.
For years, a false rumor circulated that she retired from the screen at the transition to sound films due to a lisp or speech impediment. In truth, she married the treasurer of United Artists, who asked her not to work. Later, she returned to films and played small roles during the 1940s and 1950s, making her final film appearance in 1957.
She died in of a heart attack in 1984, and is interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.