Truly Shattuck, born Clarice Etrulia de Burchards (or Burcharde) on July 27, 1875, in San Miguel, San Luis Obispo County, California, led a life that unfolded from tragedy to vaudeville stardom and, eventually, to relative obscurity.
Her birthplace was an adobe house adjoining the historic Mission San Miguel Arcángel, and she took on the surname Shattuck from her stepfather, while her mother was Jane Shattuck.
The dramatic turn in Shattuck’s life occurred in 1893 when her mother, Jane Shattuck, murdered Harry Poole, Truly’s boyfriend at the time. The motive behind the crime was Poole’s refusal to commit to marriage after spending the night together. Jane Shattuck was initially convicted of first-degree murder, but a temporary insanity appeal led to her release. This tragic incident brought national attention to Truly Shattuck, who was working as a chorus girl at the Tivoli Opera House in San Francisco.
The notoriety stemming from the murder played a paradoxical role in Shattuck’s career. Instead of hindering her prospects, it catalyzed her rise in the entertainment world. She began to gain recognition, and her career as a soubrette star took root. The Tivoli Opera House became a stepping stone for her, marking the beginning of a journey that led her to vaudeville, music halls, and ultimately Broadway.
One of Truly Shattuck’s roles in the realm of silent cinema was as Mrs. Garrison in “ Beauty’s Worth.” Despite the challenges and controversies that marked her early life, Shattuck’s resilience and talent propelled her into a successful career on the stage.
Truly Shattuck passed away on December 6, 1954, leaving behind a story that weaves together tragedy, triumph, and the transformative power of performing arts in the face of adversity.