Martha Mansfield: Ziegfeld Girl, 1889-1923
On November 30, 1923, while working on location in San Antonio, Texas on the film The Warrens of Virginia, Mansfield was severely burned when a match, tossed by a cast member, ignited her Civil War costume of hoopskirts and flimsy ruffles. Mansfield was playing the role of Agatha Warren and had just finished her scenes and retired to a car when her clothing burst into flames. Her neck and face were saved when leading man Wilfred Lytell threw his heavy overcoat over her. The chauffeur of Mansfield’s car was burned badly on his hands while trying to remove the burning clothing from the actress. The fire was put out, but she sustained substantial burns to her body.
She was rushed to a Physicians and Surgeons Hospital in San Antonio, where she died in less than twenty-four hours. Mansfield was 24 years old. Accompanied by actor Phillip Shorey, Mansfield’s body was flown to her home in New York City. Her mother resided there at 142 West Fifty-seventh Street. She was interred at the Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York. When the “Warrens of Virginia” was finally released in late 1924, Martha’s role had been edited down, and Rosemary Hill was promoted as the female lead. Wikipedia
A reminder that these sorts of terrible burn accidents also occured with some frequency in the crinoline age that she was recreating on screen. Wide, often highly inflammable skirts and naked flames, coupled with lack of antibiotic treatments for burn victims, took an awful toll.