Arthur Edmund Carewe (Hovsep Hovsepyan) was born on December 30, 1884, in the city of Trabzon. The Hovsepyan family was the backbone of the Armenian aristocracy. Hovsep’s father Garo was the most influential banker in the Ottoman Empire.
Unfortunately, his father did not see the birth of his son as he was killed during the massacre of the Armenian population of Trabzon. At the age of 7, Hovsep’s mother sent him to study in an Armenian church.
At the same time, the boy studied law. In 1896, the elder brother of Hovsep Artashes decided to move his family to the United States and start his own business. The Hovsepyan family settled in New York. Hovsep’s older brothers, Artashes and Armen, got a job in a weaving factory while the fourteen-year-old Hovsep continued to study.
It was at school when he was first enrolled in a theater group. The young Armenian showed his abilities both in law and on the stage. Patience and hard work were fruitful. Artashes and Armen were able to establish their own business, which was highly profitable.
After school, Hovsep firmly decided that theatrical art was his vocation and entered the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. In 1904, Hovsep Hovsepyan graduated from the academy with a gold medal. Out of 356 students, only Hovsep Hovsepyan and David Belasco managed to get the highest award of the academy.
After graduating, Hovsep received an invitation to play at the Chicago Theater. However, the owner of the theater gently hinted that for a successful career, it would be better for Hovsep to take an American surname.
Hovsep did not agree to officially renounce the Armenian name. The unpleasant conversation ended by Hovsep eventually acting under the Arthur Edmond Carewe pseudonym. Between 1910 and 1915, Carewe has played the main roles in more than one hundred performances.
In 1915, the Young Turk government began the implementation of the Armenian Genocide, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1.5 million Armenians. Surviving Armenians tried to find refuge in various countries, including the United States.
The Hovsepyan family made an invaluable contribution to the assistance of Armenian refugees. The company of Hovsepyans hired a huge number of Armenians. For two years, Hovsep, who was greatly shocked by the stories of his compatriots, could not play.
Soon, the support of his family, friends, and the entire Armenian community of New York brought him to the stage again. In 1918, Carewe became the first Armenian to be invited to Broadway. The success was stunning and the rise of the young Armenian was lightning fast.
In the same year, he married a friend of his childhood, actress Irene Levy, who was from a noble Jewish family.
In 1921, he was invited to play in the film adaptation of “Monna Vanna”, where Arthur Carewe portrayed Guido. For this role, Carewe received the prize of the American Film Academy of the first degree. After “Monna Vanna”, he again returned to theater. For the role of Hamlet in the play of the same name, Carewe received the highest award of the National Theater Academy of the United States.
1925 was the most successful year in the career of the great Armenian. Director Rupert Julian invited Carewe for the role of Perse Leda in the silent film “The Phantom of the Opera.” After the release of the film, the influential Times wrote: “Arthur Carewe and Lon Chaney are geniuses of world cinema.”
In 1931, Carewe was offered the lead role in one of the first adaptations of the work of Bram Stoker “Dracula”, but in the same year, he fell seriously ill, which ended his career.
The legend of the American theater and cinema committed suicide on April 22, 1937. According to the official version, Carewe decided to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.
In his honor, streets and parks were named in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles. In 1996, the name of Arthur Edmond Carewe was included in the list of the 10 greatest actors of silent movies of all time.
Arthur Edmund Carewe