Viola Porter

born: 30 May 1878
Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
died: 28 December 1942
Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
(pneumonia, age 64)

American actress who first began her career on the stage in 1898. Her parents were Philip Heyman (1853-1909), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to German Jews, and Ada (Aleniz, Alenise, Alanis, etc.) Heyman (1850-1929), born to Spanish parents in either California (census records) or Spain (death certificate, obituary, Viola's funeral record); Philip and Ada married in 1875 (per Find a Grave). By the 1900 Census, Ada had given birth to a whopping 12 children; by 1900, 7 were still living, of which Viola was the eldest (she was the only child in the 1880 Census 20 years earlier). One of Viola's paternal uncles was famed San Francisco violinist Sir Henry Heyman. Per some early San Francisco newspaper articles, it would appear Viola was raised Jewish; this would seem to be further backed by her funeral service record, which noted that a rabbi was to officiate the service.
On 5 June 1901, Viola married Missouri-born Guy McBride Porter (1881-1959), later a hardware salesman. They had three children: Duard Elkus Porter (1901-1983), Ruth Ivalu (Porter) Davis/Cassidy/Grossman (1902-1973), and Guy Alexander Porter (1907-1961, worked as a grip for Republic Studios). Viola and Guy divorced between 1910 and 1920. In the 1920 Census, Viola is a saleslady at a department store. In the 1940 Census, Viola claims to be widowed and is performing "extra work" in motion pictures; in 1939, she worked 8 weeks and earned $525 (equivalent to over $11,000 in 2023).
Viola Adele Porter, an actress in motion pictures, died at 6pm three days after Christmas Day, 1942 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (which later merged with Mount Sinai Hospital to become Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) in Los Angeles, having been there for the previous two-and-a-half months after a gallbladder operation on 11 October 1942 where she was found to have "acute gall bladder [sic] cholecystitis" (cholecystitis is gallbladder inflammation). She had been attended to by a physician since 20 August 1940. Cause of death was "pneumonia lobar bilateral" due to "left sub plereuic [sic] abscess." Three days later, on New Year's Eve, 1942, Viola was buried at Home of Peace Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
Her death certificate originally gave her date of birth as 30 May 1879, but on 8 January 1943, an affidavit for a correction to the record was issued that changed the year of birth to 1881 (which is the year also given in her Social Security Numident File); the source of the correction was son Duard. In reality, however, neither were correct, but the original, "uncorrected" date was closer; early census records point to her birth year actually being 1878.
Real name: Viola Adele Heyman
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.


Small Talk
Miss Eddy's friend

Acknowledgements: (1880 Census) (1900 Census) (1901 marriage) (1901 marriage) (1901 marriage) (1901 marriage) (1910 Census) (1920 Census) (1930 Census) (1940 Census) (CA Death Index) (death certificate) (death certificate affidavit/correction) (death/burial record) (funeral service record) (Social Security Numident File) (Find a Grave) (, search) (The Standard Casting Directory, Mar 1926) (The Standard Casting Directory, Feb-Mar 1933) (Los Angeles Times, 31 Dec 1942) (Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb 1929) (Jewish Museum of the American West)
Jesse Brisson (bio notes and research; identification in Small Talk)

This page was last updated on: 26 May 2023