Anita Page

 

Anita Evelyn Pomares better known as Anita Page, was a Salvadoran-American film actress who reached stardom in the last years of the silent film era. She became a highly popular young star, reportedly at one point receiving the most fan mail of anyone on the MGM lot. When Page died in 2008 at age 98, she was the last surviving “famous” film star of the silent era except for child actresses such as Baby Peggy and Baby Marie. She was referred to as “a blond, blue-eyed Latin” and “the girl with the most beautiful face in Hollywood” in the 1920s.

 

Anita Page

Anita Page was born August 4, 1910 in Flushing, Queens to Helen and John Pomares. She had one brother, Marino, who later worked for her as a gym instructor while her mother worked as her secretary and her father as her chauffeur. Of Salvadoran and Spanish ancestry, Page’s grandfather was a consul from El Salvador. Page entered films with the help of friend, actress Betty Bronson. Page’s picture was spotted by a man who handled Bronson’s fan mail who was also interested in representing actors. With the encouragement of her mother, Page telephoned the man who arranged a meeting for her with a casting director at Paramount Studios. After screentesting for Paramount, Page also tested for MGM. After being offered a contract for both studios, she chose MGM. Page’s first film for MGM was the 1928 comedy-drama “Telling the World”, opposite William Haines. Her performances in her second MGM film, “Our Dancing Daughters” (1928) opposite Joan Crawford and “The Broadway Melody” (1929) opposite Bessie Love were her greatest successes of the period, and her popularity allowed her to make a smooth transition into talking pictures. During the early 1930s, she was one of Hollywood’s busiest actresses, starring with Robert Montgomery in “War Nurse” (1930), John Gilbert in “Gentlemen’s Fate” (1931), Lon Chaney Jr. in “While The City Sleeps” (1931), Buster Keaton in “Sidewalks of New York” (1931), and Clark Gable in “The Easiest Way” (1931),  among others . At the height of her popularity, she was receiving more fan mail than any other female star, with the exception of Greta Garbo, and received multiple marriage proposals from Benito Mussolini in the mail. When her contract expired in 1933, she surprised Hollywood by announcing her retirement at the age of 23. She made one more movie, “Hitch Hike to Heaven”, in 1936, and then left the screen, virtually disappearing from Hollywood circles for sixty years.

 

Anita Page

 

In the 1990s the recently widowed star was rediscovered by the media, which enjoyed her light-humored journeys down memory lane about her career, MGM, the silent and early talkie eras and the stars she knew, earning the actress a devoted cult of young fans and a few brief appearances in ultra-low-budget films of the 1990s. She relished her status as “last star of the silents” and frequently gave interviews and appeared in documentaries about the era. Although ill health prevented her from making public appearances in her final years, her reputation for answering letters from fans never diminished.

 

Anita Page in “Our Modern Maidens” (1929)

 

She married composer Nacio Herb Brown in 1934, but the marriage was annulled a year later because Brown’s previous divorce had not been finalized at the time they were married. She then married Lieutenant Hershel A. House, a Navy pilot, in 1937 and they moved to Coronado, California and lived there until his death in 1991. They had two daughters together, Linda (now Linda Sterne) and Sandra .

 

Anita Page and Clark Gable in “The Easiest Way” (1931)

 

Anita Page died on September 6, 2008 at her Los Angeles home, at the age of 98. She is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego. At the time of her death she was among the last to have acted as an adult in silent films to live into the 21st century. She was also the last living attendee of the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Anita Page has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6116 Hollywood Boulevard.

 

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2 Responses to “Anita Page”

  1. […] Love and Anita Page in “Broadway Melody” […]

  2. Kym

    I am the daughter of Marino Pomares, Anita’s brother. I like what you have written, but I think there are several itms that are not accurate.
    1. You mentioned that my father coached Anita; if he was her “coach” it is more likely she told him that to make him feel important. Anita was 13 years my father’s senior. My father was still a preschooler when she started in films. By the time Anita was 23 my father was only ten, a tad young to be coaching!
    2. I don’t know who Fred and Helen Pomares are, but they are not my grandparents. My grandparents were Marino Sr. And Maude Mullane.
    3. To the best of my knowledge my family is not Salvadoran. We are, however Spanish, Cuban,and Venezuelan (amongst other nationalities).

    Regardless , your write up is very nice.

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