In 1913, aged 16, she moved to San Francisco where she became an actress. She had a starring role in a Hollywood silent movie, The Tiger's Coat (1920), playing a Mexican servant who ended up heading a dance troupe.
Leaving aside this terrible episode (in which the extent of her complicity is a bone of contention), I think we can still appreciate her photography and wonder what it would have been like to have gone to one of her legendary parties. Just after the First World War she lived with her lover Ricardo Gomez Robelo in LA:
Living in Mexico City with Edward Weston, Modetti was once again at the centre of bohemian social life:
Virtually every well-known writer and artist in Mexico participated. Mexican-born, Texas-educated journalist Anita Brenner described how 'workers in paints drank tea and played the phonograph with union and non-union technical labour-scribes, musicians, architects, doctors, archaeologists, cabinet-ministers, generals, stenographers, deputies, and occasional sombreroed peasants."