Viola Dana a successful film actress during the silent film era
Viola Dana was an American film actress who was successful during the era of silent movies.
Viola Dana was born Virginia Flugrath on June 26, 1897 in Brooklyn, New York. Dana became a child star, appearing on the stage at the age of three. She read Shakespeare and particularly identified with the teenage Juliet and enjoyed a long run at the Hudson Theater in New York City. At the age of sixteen Dana was a particular favorite of audiences with her performance in David Belasco’s “Poor Little Rich Girl”. She went into vaudeville with Dustin Farnum in “The Little Rebel” and played a bit part in “The Model” by Augustus Thomas. Dana made her film debut in 1914 in “Molly the Drummer Boy” (1914). The following year she received top billing playing Gladiola Bain in “Gladiola” (1915). Dana secured another lead in “The Innocence of Ruth” (1916) and then starred in “The Girl Without a Soul” and “Blue Jeans” (both in 1917) for Metro Pictures Corporation. She continued to act throughout the 1920s with her most notable role coming in 1926 as Katie O’Doone in “Bred in Old Kentucky”. In the late 1920’s Dana’s popularity began to wane and her final silver screen role was in “One Splendid Hour” (1929) after which Dana retired from films.
In 1915 Viola Dana married director John H. Collins. They remained married until his death during the influenza epidemic of 1918. In 1920 Dana had a romantic relationship with daredevil Hollywood pilot Ormer Locklear. Locklear was killed when his plane crashed during a nighttime film stunt that went wrong on August 2, 1920. Dana was present at the time of the incident and would not fly again herself for twenty-five years. Dana was later married to Yale football star and actor Maurice “Lefty” Flynn from 1925 to 1929 and to golfer Jimmy Thomson from 1930 to 1945. Both marriages ended in divorce.
Viola Dana died from heart failure at the age of 90 on July 3, 1987 in Woodland Hills, California. She is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery under her original name of Virginia Flugrath.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Viola Dana has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is located at 6541 Hollywood Boulevard.