EVE- I need your help !!!!! ( Silent Film Star Emergency )

Eve- this one’s for you, although of course I’d welcome submissions from all Dopers.

This will sound insane, but I am gathering the names of silent film stars- FEMALE ONLY. I need 8 good names, with some recognition to them. I’m naming each of my new Steadicam batteries after one.

So far, I have these names:

Jean Harlow ( was she a silent star??)
Mary Pickford
Lillian Gish
Mae West
Zazu Pitts
Clara Bow

I need at least 8, and am not sure of Harlow. Any thoughts???


Well, since Eve posts only from work because, closet-Amish that she is, her home computer is steam-powered, you won’t get any answers from her until Monday. I’ll offer Colleen Moore, silent comedienne, cutie, and prominent doll house owner.

Eve’s been AWOL for a couple of weeks at least.

Try this for starters: http://www.silentera.com/ or just type in “silent movies” on Google. There’s lotsa sites available.

Jean Harlow certainly MADE silent films, mostly in bit parts (she had her skirt memorably ripped off, memorably appearing in memorably seamed stockings, in Laurel & Hardy’s DOUBLE WHOOPEE, 1929). But she made her name and fame in the classic THE PUBLIC ENEMY and PLATINUM BLONDE (both 1931, both talkies), plus DINNER AT EIGHT (1933).

Mae West didn’t make a movie until 1932, being previously engaged in naughty stage productions in New York.

A search of IMDb shows that Harlow did make silent films, although judging from the number of uncredited and bit parts, it doesn’t look like she was a ‘star’ until talkies.

I also found Ella Hall, but I’m not sure how big a star she was.

And there’s Audrey Munson, who is credited as being “the first nude star, in that her roles in ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Purity’ both had her performing nude scenes as a leading lady.”

I fI find anymore, I’ll get back to you.

And I’ll offer Brigitte Helm, portrayer of the sexiest Robot in film history. (see link above.)

Dorothy Gish
Mabel Normand
Greta Garbo
Theda Bara

(Some of them made sound films also-do you want silent only?)

In addition to the ones already listed maybe,

Mary Astor
Ethel Barrymore
Louise Brooks
Marion Davies
Greta Garbo
Edna Purviance
Gloria Swanson
Fay Wray

Josephine Baker

Marlene Dietrich

If you have a perverse sense of humor, drop in Mary Miles Minter or Mabel Normand, both very popular stars of the silent era who were entangled up in the murder of director William Desmond Taylor.

Norma Shearer

Youse guys is da best. Alla youse gets a free egg cream on me!!!

This is GREAT- I admit, I was in the middle of talking to the in-laws, and started making a list. My FIL is sharp as a tack and 82, so he tossed out Zazu Pitts to me, the rest I remembered from Film School. I know I should have done a Web Search, but figured I’d appeal to youse instead :smiley:

What a great list. Dietrich did silents? Awesome, she’s in. I want name recognition. Hey, if I had a REALLY perverse sense of humor I’d include Virginia Rappe, who supposedly died at the hands of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. But, I don’t wanna go there.

Thanks again, keep em comin’


Of course, I’d have to nominate Virginia Davis who starred in some of Disney’s first animated shorts.

Janet Gaynor (star of Sunrise and winner of first Best Actress Oscar)
Maria Falconetti (who possibly gave the greatest performance of the silent film era)
Musidora (who played the notorioius Irma Vep in Feuillade’s classic Les Vampires)
Vera Baranovskaya (title role of Pudovkin’s Mother)
Greta Schröder (star of Murnau’s Nosferatu)
Betty Balfour (star of the British Squibs series)
Lil Dagover (Caligari plus several silent Fritz Langs)
Myrna Loy & Joan Crawford (both better choices than Dietrich or Harlow, IMHO)
Georgia Hale (The Gold Rush)
Marion Mack, Natalie Talmadge, Kathryn McGuire, Sybil Seely (Buster Keaton’s co-stars, especially Seely–a major cutie)

and because she’s only been mentioned once: LOUISE BROOKS, LOUISE BROOKS, LOUISE BROOKS!!!

Bits of fascinating trivia about two of the above-mentioned babes:

Georgia Hale replaced Chaplin’s child-bride, Lita Grey Chaplin, as the love interest in THE GOLD RUSH when Lita became obviously pregnant during the shoot. She was immortalized in the great 1927 Memphis Jug Band tune, “Everybody’s Talking 'Bout Sadie Green,” in the line “Legs lookin’ nice as Geogia Hale’s.”

Zasu Pitts (get that spelling right, although for some films she was credited as ZaSu) is best remembered for her lead role as the miserly abused wife Trina Sieppe in Erich von Stroheim’s Great Lost Picture, GREED (1925), but she probably made a better salary for the series of early 1930s comedy shorts where she teamed up with blonde bombshell Thelma Todd, best known as the female foil in the two early Margaret Dumontless Marx Bros. films MONKEY BUSINESS (1931) and HORSE FEATHERS (1932). She later appeared as Charles Laughton’s love interest (derisive snicker…he wouldn’t even kiss her onscreen) in RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1934). One of her last roles was as Gertie the police switchboard operator in IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1964).

I love how she portrays the very delicate flower of femininity yet there was PLENTY of Edna. No Kate Moss there!

Pola Negri is another silent actress.

You can do it the brute force way and browse the IMDb by year. There are 7 entries for 1891! Very short films, I would think. You can also browse for people born in a given year.

Youse are da best. Okay, several things are clear to me now.

  1. I will have to purchase something like 27 batteries :smiley:

  2. I will have to credit ALL of you on shoots.

  3. Eve will just scream when she comes in late on this one.

Thanks again, all- this is awesome. I’m set. I debated " B- rated actresses from the 70’s ", but could NOT stomache the idea of walking onto a set with the name Adrienne Barbeau on my rig for all to see :wink:


May I add, Helen Hays (she did one or maybe two) and of course Clara Bow–The “It” Girl.

Helen Twelvetrees
No joke. Look her up on the IMDB.

Bessie Love (The Lost World)

Julanna Johnson and Anna May Wong (Thief of Bagdad)

Mary Philbin (Phantom of the Opera)

Patsy Ruth Miller (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Of course, if you’re calling on Eve, he’ll have to say Theda Bara and Anna Held and all the Actresses in her other book.9which I don’t have yet)