Dot's Biography
A very big "THANK YOU" goes out to Delane Darby Moore and Susan Henry Darby for sharing some great pictures
and information on the relative they affectionately call "Big Dot"
Another very big "THANK YOU" goes out to Susie Hatch for sharing more wonderful information about Dorothy's
genealogy and family history!
In one magazine article interview she is quoted as saying "When, as, and if you write me up tell the truth. From what I can gather through extensive
reading, all movie stars are beautiful or handsome, strong and noble, talented, artistic, and addicted to their hearths and firesides. Let's make this
different from the usual thing. I was not reared in a dressing room, with Modjeska as a godmother. When I was 6 years old I did not run away from
home. I haven't nursed a lifelong ambition to act ever since reciting 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' at a church bazaar, and I've never spent months and
months, nor even a month, waiting on the extra bench. I wasn't discovered by D.W. Griffith, and I was never so much a runner-up in a beauty contest."

It was written that when she spoke she was open and honest (maybe to a fault sometimes) but none-the-less a seemingly real person. The fast life with
dinners, parties and drinking with a crowd that included Joan Crawford and Renee Adoree among others, was where Dorothy liked to spend her free
time. She was popular with friends and even many in the press. "A good scout" as they would say back then. Nice clothes, furs, perfume and jewelery
were also a few of her favorite things!
According to articles from the 20's and 30's, Dorothy was described as
being 5' 3" tall, weighing between 105 and 117 pounds, having brown
curly hair and depending on which magazine you read either deep hazel
eyes or brown eyes. Some favorite hobbies of hers were history,
painting, music and interior decorating.
On August 27, 1946 Dorothy Sebastian became Dorothy Sebastian Shapiro after she
Herman Shapiro. They remained together until her death from colon
cancer in 1957.
Dorothy with Herman, getting a kiss from her dog ca
late 1940's/50's)
Dorothy's maternal grandparents had been missionaries in China, Turkey, Persia and Korea. Her grandfather founded
the first Presbyterian church in Alabama.
"Religion is closely related to the drama. And preaching is related to acting.
They both require the same flair. My grandfather and grandmother were missionaries in China. When I was a kid,
collecting gold stars for regular attendance in Sunday School, I couldn't make up my mind whether I wanted to be a
missionary or an actress. The line between them was so fine that I couldn't make up my mind."

When she was finally allowed to go the theatre she decided then and there she would be an actress. Something she
would keep to herself as she knew the family would not approve.

The Sabiston's had four children:  Elizabeth (Bessie) Christine was the oldest, then
Robert James, third was Stella
Dorothy and the youngest was
Mary Helen. Sadly two of the four Sabiston children would die very tragically.
Her second marriage was to fellow actor William Boyd. As they do today, the press kept an eye on the couple to see when and if
they would marry. They met while filming
His First Command in 1929 and then immediately worked together again in Officer
. This movie turned out to be somewhat of a flop, and as the magazine story goes, they fell in love while consoling each
other. Not to mention Boyd's marriage to actress Elinor Fair was ending and Dorothy's engagement to Clarence Brown was over,
as was her affair with Buster Keaton. The last movie they worked together in was
The Big Gamble and by that point they were man
and wife.
Wedding day December 19, 1930 with studio
photographer Al 'Whitey' Schaffer and his wife.
circa 1924
Stella Dorothy Sabiston was born on April 26, 1903 in the Woodlawn area of Birmingham Alabama. She grew up in what seems to have been a very normal upbringing. She was a
typical girl who liked to dance and took pride in doing well in school. Of her first crush she commented
: "When I was 15 I thought boys were bores. I tried to be very highbrow and
read books I couldn't understand. An old bachlor friend of the family was the only one who pretended to take me seriously, and I'm sure he deserved a medal when I remember
what a pest I must have been. I used to tell my schoolmates that my best beau was a 'Man who understood me."
Alabama was home until she headed up north to New York City to try and make it
as a dancer. Something she had wanted to do for a very long time. In order to prove
to her parents she could support herself, thus making her case to go to NYC,
Dorothy would do portrait sketches, parchment lamp shades and sew cushion
covers, even going as far as opening her own little shop in an apartment in
"It was the best looking place. I got old rugs and had them dyed
black. Then I did the place in robin's egg blue with touches of orange. I couldn't
take care of all the orders I had at the studio. But all the time in the back of my
mind was the idea of being an actress. I used to spend my lunch money on
pictures- it was always pictures more than the stage that interested me."
Dorothy has her own star on Hollywood's
famous "Walk of Fame". It can be found at
6655 Hollywood Blvd.
Dorothy was married three times. Her first marriage was November 9, 1920 when she married Al Stafford in Birmingham, Alabama. Their
marriage ended in divorce in February 1924.
Dorothy's parents were Lycurgus (Lawrence) Robert Sabiston and
Stella Armstrong Sabiston. Her mother was a "
really fine painter. She
used oils and her portraits and landscapes were far from amateur. I
have always regretted that she gave it up. Whatever little knack I have
for sketching comes from her, but in  a very modified form."
After the divorce, Dorothy made her way to NYC and then to Hollywood. After getting a taste of the movie star life, Dorothy decided not to marry
again until she felt she had succeeded in her acting career.
"I'm sure that I could never do two things well. I could not have a career and
marriage both and I would not stop now to marry. It would be a great injustice to a man, because I would always think, 'Now if I had not
married I might be at the top of my profession'. I would only marry after I have gotten where I want to be and am ready to retire permantly
from the screen"
. Another philosophy of hers was much more simple: "I don't want to get married. Why spoil a good friend by making a bad
husband out of him?
Bill and Dorothy eloped to Las Vegas, Nevada on December 19, 1930. One interview has her saying: "Sit steady" she warned
hysterically. "Hold onto something tight. In ten minutes Bill and I are flying off to Arizona or New Mexico or some funny place to
get married. I told him he'd have to make it snappy before I changed my mind.
" It was such a rush affair that they didn't even stop
to buy rings, they used one with a star sapphire that one had given to the other as a gift:
"It was sweet wasn't it? Somehow it seemed lovelier than using any other sort of ring. And Bill is everything to me - everything
that lover and husband should be."
Early on the sympathetic relationship was a happy one, but since it was more a friendship than
a love match it slowly unraveled due to incompatibility and pressure to keep up appearances of a press covered 'perfect marriage'.
They divorced in May 1936.
During her career, Dorothy worked with many famous actors and actresses and
others that were up and coming. Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Tom Mix, Anita
Page, Alice Terry, Nils Asther, Anna Q. Nilsson, Viola Dana, John Gilbert, Renee
Adoree, Lionel Barrymore, Norma Shearer, Lew Cody, Aileen Pringle,  Tim
McCoy, Roy Rogers, Johnny Mack Brown, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Jack Benny,
Jack Holt, Ralph Graves,
Bill Boyd, Robert Montgomery, Zazu Pitts, Regis
Toomey, Lon Chaney Jr and of course
Buster Keaton.
According to Dorothy: