Gladys Walton; Starred in Silent Films

Gladys Walton, a silent screen star once dubbed the darling of five-reelers, died Monday in Morro Bay, where she had lived for many years. She was 90.

Miss Walton made 38 films during what she described as the “movie phase” of her life, from 1919 to 1925.

Those Universal Studio silents included “Secondhand Rose,” “Rich Girl Poor Girl,” “Pink Tights,” “Risky Business” and “Playing With Fire.”

But after “Little Girl in a Big City” and “The Sky Raider” in 1925, Miss Walton disappeared from the screen.

“I ran off and married and moved to Chicago and had six kids,” she told The Times in 1981.


Subsequent phases in her life included stints as an aviator, a breeder of championship horses and French poodles, a sculptor and--for more than 20 years--a builder of what she carefully labeled “Gladys’ Castle” in Morro Bay to distinguish it from the more imposing Hearst Castle down the road. When she was 76, she built a lighthouse in the back yard with an elevator to take her to the top “to toast the sunsets.”

Even as an octogenarian, Miss Walton continued to receive fan mail, musing to The Times: “Die-hard fans have a way of tracking you down. It’s amazing someone would write years later to tell you how much they loved you in a picture.”

Miss Walton is survived by her six children--Mary Jane Williamson of Costa Mesa, Janice Meyers of Morro Bay, Gloria Eberhardt of Idaho, John Herbel of Fallbrook, Calif., Robert Herbel of Garden Grove and Edward Herbel of New York--20 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

The family has asked that any memorial contributions be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, Woodland Hills.