Entering films in 1914, American actress Mary Alden was almost immediately swept into a momentous chapter of screen history. D. W. Griffith cast Mary as Lydia Brown, the mulatto housekeeper/mistress of reconstructionist senator Austin Stoneman, in the Civil War epic The Birth of a Nation (1915). Mary's big scene, which was often removed in reissue prints due to its racist/erotic content, has Lydia insisting that white senator Sumner treat her as an equal; when the senator refuses, she tears her blouse, falls to the floor, and pretends she's been sexually assaulted! Most of Mary Alden's subsequent film roles weren't quite as showy; she remained in films as a character actress into the talking era, bowing out after 1932's Strange Interlude.
by Hal Erickson biography