When it comes to knowing fame, everyone wants to stake a claim, even if it is a little shaky. Park City, it seems, is no exception. Silent film actress Marguerite Clayton, “is a Park City girl,” the Park Record told Parkites on August 1, 1924. But taking a closer look, Park City was not the only one claiming Marguerite Clayton as their girl.
Clayton was born in Utah in 1891, one of four children to Irish immigrant Michael Fitzgerald and his English wife Belle. Fitzgerald was a Utah pioneer, arriving from Cork, Ireland as a young man. He fought against Native Americans all over the mountain west in the numerous wars that were so common in the area in the nineteenth century. He worked in the mining industry throughout Utah and Nevada, and, according to the Park Record, during his time in Park City “became a close personal friend of…Senator Thomas Kearns and David Keith.” In 1895, he moved with his family to Salt Lake City, where he “engaged in various business enterprises and was for five years a member of the local police department.”
Marguerite spent most of her childhood in Salt Lake and was schooled at Bryant Junior High, East High, and St. Mary’s Academy. The Salt Lake Telegram, in 1920, jovially reported that the “youngsters” at the schools Clayton had attended were “stepping quite high these days,” for the connection they could own to “the incomparable Marguerite.”
Clayton’s entrance into the entertainment world came with a hopeful correspondence she sent in response to a newspaper advertisement. “My ambition was to appear on the stage,” Clayton wrote in the Salt Lake Telegram in 1916. “I was casting about for something to do…then one day I found an advertisement in which G.M. Anderson of the Essanay Company…wanted girls for [photography] work,” she recalled. She mailed a letter and a picture and was hired on probationary status in California just four days later.
Her “big break” came with the movie “Broncho Billy,” a lead she had received based on several small trial roles she’d successfully performed. Her part “was an emotional one,” and she credited worry as the reason for success. Her fear that her performance would not be satisfactory read on camera as “fear for my lover,” and the rest was history. Marguerite Clayton did live in Park City, though only for about one year after graduating high school. She frequently came back for visits and her family maintained their close connection to the area. Any time she was in Utah, local newspapers would report on the event with pride, welcoming their girl home for however long she stayed. Audiences loved the blond-haired beauty and took in her performances with gusto. She graced the screen in over 150 films, most of them Westerns. She died from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1968 at the age of 77.
 “Park City Girl in Movies,” Park Record, August 1, 1924.
 “Michael Fitzgeral, Pioneer, Is Dead After Short Illness,” Salt Lake Herald, March 7, 1920.
 “City Claims Another Star,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 10, 1920.
 “How An Advertisement [Led] Marguerite Clayton to Fame,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 16, 1916.
 Marguerite F. Bertrandias, findagrave.com