Filled Under: Blanche Sweet
Blanche Sweet was an American silent film actress who began her career in the earliest days of the Hollywood motion picture film industry.
Blanche Sweet was born Sarah Blanche Sweet on June 18, 1896 in Chicago, Illinois. Her family was theater and vaudeville performers and she entered the entertainment industry at an early age. At age four Sweet toured in a play called “The Battle of the Strong” whose star was stage legend Maurice Barrymore. In 1909, Sweet started work at Biograph Studios under contract to director D. W. Griffith. By 1910 Sweet’s maturity and appearance soon lead to leading roles and at the age of fourteen had become a rival to Mary Pickford, who had also started for Griffith the year before. Throughout the 1910s, Sweet appeared in a number of highly prominent roles in films and remained a popular leading lady starring in such films as “The Lonedale Operator” (1911), “Judith of Bethulia” (1914) and Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Warrens of Virginia” (1915). Sweet’s career continued to prosper into the early 1920s, starring in movies such as the first film version of “Anna Christie” (1923), “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” (1924), “Those Who Dance” (1924), and “The Sporting Venus” (1925). In the late 1920s Sweet’s career began to decline and with the advent of sound she would only make three talkies including her critically acclaimed performance in “Show Girl in Hollywood” (1930). Sweet retired from film in 1930 and spent the remainder of her performing career in radio and in secondary Broadway stage roles before her career in both of these fields eventually petered out. In the late 1960s, her acting legacy was resurrected when film scholars invited her to Europe to receive recognition for her work. On September 24, 1984, a tribute to Blanche Sweet was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City where Miss Sweet introduced her 1925 film, “The Sporting Venus”.
Blanche Sweet was married twice. Her first marriage was in 1922 to film director/producer Marshall Neilan. The union ended in divorce in 1929 with Sweet charging that Neilan was a persistent adulterer. Sweet’s second marriage was to stage actor Raymond Hackett in 1935. The marriage lasted until Hackett’s death in 1958.
Blanche Sweet died in New York City of a stroke, on September 6, 1986, just weeks after her 90th birthday. Her ashes were later scattered at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Sweet’s friend and caregiver Martin Sopocy had arranged her ashes to be secretly cultivated into the floral soil where Lilies still bloom today.