Sunday, October 03, 2010

Asides - Seen, But Not Heard, Second of Two.

The previous post presented "Seen, But Not Heard" actresses from the first half of the alphabet as they appeared in the 1924 Stars Of The Photoplay publication. This post gives us the balance of those actresses, stars in the silent era, that didn't make make the transition to sound, and sadly in some cases, though still young, didn't live to see the sound era.

I've also posted the complete list of actresses and actors that were profiled in the book. There should be quite a few names you recognize and many more that have been forgotten.

Double click on the images for a larger view.

Anita Stewart appeared in 99 films between 1911 and 1928.
She was also a producer on 17 films.

Constance Talmadge made 83 films, all silent. Her sister Norma appeared in 160, but her last was a talkie, so Constance gets the coverage here. Both retired knowing their Brooklyn accents didn't translate well to sound.

Talmadge Street in Hollywood, California, is named for the sisters. It ran along the west side of Vitagraph's West coast studio where the Talmadges made some of their movies in the 1910's. The studio is now the ABC Television Center.

Edna Purviance appeared in 40 films, almost all with Charlie Chaplin as director, or director/actor. Edna actually retired from film in 1926, but appeared in two non-speaking extra parts in two of Chaplin's later films, Monsieur Verdoux (1947) and Limelight (1952).

Ethel Shannon appeared in 34 films between 1919 and 1927. She was a WAMPAS Baby Star of 1923.

Gertrude Olmstead appeared in 58 films and was married to director Robert Z. Leonard from 1926 until his death in 1968.

Alice Terry's first of 39 films was made when she was 15, though she was uncredited in it and several of her early films. In 1921 she married director Rex Ingram, who featured Alice in many of his subsequent films, including The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), and Scaramouche (1923).

Gladys Walton made 36 films between 1920 and 1928, and one in 1908! The bulk of her films were made by 1923, when she married and began a family that eventually included 6 children. Gladys lived to age 90.

Katherine MacDonald , who appeared in 35 films, was one of the most highly paid actresses in the 1920's, earning about $50,000 per picture from her contract with First National. She also became one of the first female film producers, with 5 films to her credit.

Kathleen Key appeared in 30 films between 1920 and 1930. She was uncredited in a couple of early 30's films with non-speaking roles. Her claim to fame (infamy) was her romantic affair with Buster Keaton. Like Ethel Shannon, Kathleen was a WAMPAS Baby Star of 1923.

Alma Rubens , who appeared in 58 films from 1913 to 1929, led a troubled life due to her heroin habit and other addictions. She died in 1931, not of a drug overdose, but of pneumonia due to the ravaged state of her body and health. She was married to Ricardo Cortez at the time of her death.

Laurette Taylor only appeared in four films, the last in 1924, but is considered one of the most influential stage actresses of all time. She was a model and inspiration for Katherine Hepburn, Uta Hagen, who praises her in her book "A Challenge for the Actor", Martin Landau, Maureen Stapleton, and Spencer Tracy, among others.

Lucille Ricksen was a child and teenage star at the top of her game when she died at age 15 in 1925 after appearing in 36 films. After her death from tuberculosis, the media charged her illness was caused by working non-stop for twelve years under poor conditions. Her death was used as an example for parents not to exploit their talented children.

Mabel Normand is well known to early film buffs, having appeared in 221 films from 1910 to 1927. She helped make Keystone successful. She also directed 15 films and wrote several of her films. Unfortunately, she may be best remembered for her off-screen life of partying and cocaine and alcohol use. Those behaviors were coupled with her being a suspect in the William Desmond Taylor murder. Mabel died of tuberculosis in 1930.

Mary Miles Minter, very popular from 1912 to 1923, appeared in 54 films. However, when she was 20 and reportedly romantically involved with director William Desmond Taylor, he was murdered in his home. She wasn't considered a suspect by any means, but because of a young woman involved with a man who was old enough to be her father caused the audience to shun her. After filming Drums Of Fate in 1923, Mary never returned to the silver screen.

To learn more about the William Desmond Taylor still unsolved murder, click here.

Mary Philbin made 31 films from 1921 to 1929, but is best remembered for her lead role in 1925's The Phantom of the Opera opposite Lon Chaney. She was an actress favored by Eric Von Stroheim, and credited him with furthering her career. Her personal life, particularly the strict control exercised by her parents, made it difficult for Mary to make her own way in Hollywood. She was named a WAMPAS baby star of 1922, the first year of the organization's existence. Mary live long enough to attend the Los Angeles premiere of the musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera starring Michael Crawford.

Mimi Palmeri, her real name, became Mona Palma by her fourth of seven films. There is not much information about Mimi, but I do know that at least one Cuban tobacco card, featuring her image, was published. She died at age 92.

Mary Thurman, born Mary Christiansen, appeared in nearly 59 films from 1915 up until her death in 1925 from bronchopneumonia. Mary's movie career began with roles in the comedies of Mack Sennett, as did so many actresses of the day.

Nita Naldi, after a successful stage run with the Ziegfeld Follies, landed in Hollywood. In 1920, at the age of 25, she starred in her first film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, along side John Barrymore. In 1921, she appeared in Experience, as Tempation. She was the vamp of the moment.

However, it was 1922's Blood and Sand that was to set her apart from others. Nita starred opposite Rudolph Valentino in one of the silent era's epic last truly great productions. Nita would go on to be Valentino's most frequent co-star.

However, while still a box office draw, in 1926 she eloped and relocated to Paris. She made three more films and retired from the screen. Nita did continue to perform in the theater.

Shirley Mason made 119 films, 61 of them before age 20. As a child and young actress, she was in small and uncredited roles. However, as she matured, more substantial parts came her way and by the mid 1920's until her final film in 1929, a part talkie, Shirley had the female lead in most of her films. She was the sister of silent film actress Viola Dana.

Pearl White left the screen in 1924 after 217 films! If you know the name, it is undoubtedly because of her roles as Pauline, in 1914's serial, The Perils of Pauline. This however, was just the first of 11 serials in which she starred. Flying airplanes, racing cars, swimming across rivers, and doing other similar feats, she did much of her own stunt work and suffered injuries that would force her to use a stunt double in her later films. Pearl left film and the U.S. in 1923, moving to Paris and living there until her death in 1938.


The Silent Stars of 1924.