Posts Tagged ‘silent film actress’
Anne Cornwall was an American actress who performed for forty years in many silent film productions starting in 1918 and later in talkies until 1959.
Cornwall was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 17, 1897. She made her film debut in 1918 with a bit role in the silent film “The Knife” and was one of the thirteen Wampas Baby Stars of 1925. The brunette actress went on to appear in fifty seven films during her career, alternating between dramatic performances (most often in westerns) and with turns as baby-faced, wide-eyed leading ladies in comedies. Her best remembered roles were opposite Buster Keaton in “College” (1927) and as one of the two flappers in Laurel & Hardy’s two-reeler “Men O’War” (1929). After 1930 most of her roles were minor and often uncredited. Cornwall briefly reappeared before the public eye in 1957, when she made the personal-appearance rounds with her old co-star Buster Keaton on the occasion of the Paramount biopic “The Buster Keaton Story” (1957).
Anne Cornwall was married twice. First to writer/director Charles Maigne, then later to Los Angeles engineer Ellis Wing Taylor, who fathered her only child, Peter Taylor.
Anne Cornwall died on March 2, 1980 in Van Nuys, California, USA.
Phyllis Haver (January 6, 1899 – November 19, 1960) was an American actress of the silent film era.
Haver was born January 6, 1899 in Douglass, Kansas. When she was a child her family moved to Los Angeles, California, then a city of less than half a million people. Haver attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High. After graduating, she played piano to accompany the new silent films in local theaters.
Producer Mack Sennett saw her and hired her to be one of his “Sennett Bathing Beauties”. Between 1916-20 she appeared in more than thirty five short films for Sennett Studios. With her curvy figure and blonde hair she quickly became one of the most popular of Sennett’s bathing beauties.
Haver appeared in “The Balloonatic” (1923) a short starring Buster Keaton. She co-starred with Olive Borden in “Fig Leaves” (1926) and with Victor McLaglen in “What Price Glory” (1926). Haver won rave reviews for her performances as Roxie Hart in Cecil B DeMille’s “Chicago” (1927) opposite Hungarian film actor Victor Varconi. One reviewer called her performance “astoundingly fine,” and added that Haver “makes this combination of tragedy and comedy a most entertaining piece of work.” She also performed in the comedy film “The Battle of the Sexes” (1928) and appeared with Lon Chaney in his last silent film, “Thunder” (1929).
In 1929, Haver married millionaire William Seeman with a service performed by New York Mayor James J. Walker at the home of Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist. They moved into a penthouse in New York City and Haver retired from acting. She said she loved being a wife and never wanted to return to Hollywood. Unfortunately after sixteen years of marriage Haver and Seeman divorced in 1945. The couple had no children.
When Haver married Seeman in 1929, she was still under contract to Cecil B. DeMille. Haver told DeMille she was ending her contract with him under the “Act of God” clause. Stunned, DeMille asked, “What Act of God?” Haver replied, “If marrying a millionaire isn’t an Act of God, I don’t know what is.” DeMille let her go.
Haver lived her later years in relative comfort in Sharon, Connecticut, but as she grew older she became more reclusive. She lived in a large house and rarely had visitors. Her only companion was her longtime housekeeper. Haver reportedly made several suicide attempts and was devastated when her former boss and good friend Mack Sennett died.
On November 19, 1960, just fourteen days after Sennetts death, 61-year-old Phyllis Haver died from an overdose of barbiturates, a suspected suicide. She was found by her housekeeper in her bed, fully dressed and wearing make-up. Haver was buried at Grassy Hills Cemetery in Falls Village, CT.
Lois Moran (March 1, 1909 – July 13, 1990) was an American film actress who appeared in over thirty motion pictures from 1924 to 1931, but her major claim to fame was probably as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s inspiration for the character of “Rosemary” in his classic novel ‘Tender Is the Night’ (1934).
Lois Moran was born Lois Darlington Dowlin on March 1, 1909 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She trained in dance as a child and in 1919 at the age of ten, Moran moved to Paris with her mother to study seriously. She danced and sang for several years at the Paris National Opera and appeared in two silents in the early 1920s while still in France. Moran returned to America where she made a highly successful screen debut as the daughter of Stella Dallas (played by Belle Bennett) in the classic silent “Stella Dallas” (1925). Lois Moran went on to appear in over thirty movies and shorts during her career appearing with such actors as Lon Chaney, Al Jolson, Ronald Colman, John Gilbert, Richard Barthelmess, Warner Baxter, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Moran’s credits include the silent hit “The Road to Mandalay” (1926) and early sound movies such as “Behind That Curtain” (1929) and early musicals such as “A Song of Kentucky” (1929), “Words and Music” (1929), and “Mammy” (1930). Like many actors and actresses from the silent film era, Lois Moran did not make a successful transition from silents to talkies. In 1931 Moran left movies and turned to Broadway with lead singing roles in the highly successful George and Ira Gershwin musical satire “Of Thee I Sing” and its somewhat less popular sequel “Let ‘Em Eat Cake.”
Lois Moran reportedly had a brief affair with writer F. Scott Fitzgerald while he was a screenwriter in Hollywood and was an inspiration for the character of Rosemary Hoyt in Fitzgerald’s novel ‘Tender is the Night’ (1934). Fitzgerald once remarked that Moran was “The most beautiful girl in Hollywood”.
In 1935, Lois Moran married Clarence M. Young, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, retiring from Hollywood and Broadway. Moran came back briefly in a role in the short-lived TV series “Waterfront” (1954–1955). The show starred Preston Foster as Capt. John Herrick and Lois Moran as his wife May Herrick. In her later years Moran settled in Sedona, Arizona with her husband (he died in 1972) where she ran a weekly local column for a time.
Lois Moran died of cancer on July 13, 1990 in Sedona at age 81.
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.
Ruth Clifford was a silent film leading lady in Hollywood during the 1920’s and later a character actress in occasional talkies. Her career lasted over six decades, well into the television era.
Ruth Clifford was born February 17, 1900 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Narragansett, Rhode Island. After her mother died in 1911, Clifford moved to Los Angeles to live with her actress aunt. She got work as an extra and began her career at age fifteen at Universal with a substantial role in “Behind the Lines” (1916). Clifford had roles in several shorts the next couple years with her only lead role in a full length feature coming in 1917 in “Polly Put the Kettle On”. Clifford went on to play leads and second leads in over forty silents the next dozen years including the role of Abraham Lincoln’s lost love, Ann Rutledge, in “The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln” (1924). Other Clifford movies of note are; “The Savage” (1917) with Colleen Moore, “The Cabaret Girl” (1918), “Tropical Love” (1921), “The Dangerous Age” (1923), “Hell’s Hole” (1923), “Her Husband’s Secret” (1925), “Lew Tyler’s Wives” (1926) with Frank Mayo and Hedda Hopper, “The Thrill Seekers” (1927), and “The Eternal Woman” (1929) with Olive Borden.
With the advent of talkies, Ruth Clifford found her roles diminishing, and throughout the next three decades she played smaller and smaller parts, many of the uncredited. Clifford was a favorite of director John Ford (they played bridge together), who used her in eight films, but rarely in substantial roles. She was also, for a time, the voice of Walt Disney’s Minnie Mouse. During the 1950’s and 60’s Clifford turned to television with appearances in many programs including several appearances in “Fireside Theatre”, “Playhouse 90”, “Highway Patrol”, and “Dr. Kildare” to name a few. Her last appearance was in 1977 in an episode of “Police Story”. Late in life Clifford found herself in demand for documentary interviews on the subject of early Hollywood. All told, Clifford was able to sustain an acting career that lasted for sixty years with over 150 credits in silent film, talkies, and television.
Ruth Clifford was married to Beverly Hills real-estate developer James Cornelius in 1924. The couple had one child, a son. The marriage ended in divorce in 1938.
Ruth Clifford died November 30, 1998, age 98, in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California. She was interred in Culver City’s Holy Cross Cemetery.