Long thick tresses, pouty lips, heavy mascara--Mary Pickford is HOT!

Is there a name for the kind of look that most or all of the silent film starlets seemed to have? As mentioned in the thread title, many seemed to have long heavy tresses, pale faces, heavy mascara, and a cute little cupid’s bow mouth. Did women really make themselves up to look that way back then, or does this just reflect the needs of filming back in the early days (it seems like the male stars wore some kind of mascara to make their eyes stand out as well).

Here’s Mary Pickford as an example, though what really brought this topic to mind for me was Mary Philbin–ROWR!

The style seems geisha-like, almost over-the-top in its femininity. Maybe it was a reaction against the bobbed and boyish flappers?

Mary Philbin as a geisha . . . now there’s an idea . . . that would be sort two fetishes for the price of one, I suppose.

Or is it just me?

Hmm… uhh… I find your taste in women… interesting. I’m not sure it was that late, but for a long time the pale look was a popular one - lots of bad makeups to make you paler were created.

I don’t know-call Eve here, perhaps?


My guess is that the dramatic make up for film stars helped in those days-it was all black and white and not very clear, and this helped them to stand out.

i find lillian gish to be a hot bag of hormones, myself.


NO IT WAS NOT. Pickford and her ilk were around before flappers and all that stuff. Check out the biography on the IMDB and for Lillian Gish. I dunno about Mary Philbin, sadly, but she does seem to have worn that style in the '20s (when flappers were the rage).

HOWEVER, Mary Philbin notwithstanding, the style definitely originated before the 1920s and the flappers. In fact, Mary Pickford was probably the inspiration for the style. Look at some of the photos on the IMDB website of Pickford and you’ll see that she eventually cut her hair short. I believe that it was for her first talkie that she cut her hair short flapper-style (modern you know).

How early? Mary Pickford’s style seems a bit similar to the Gibson Girl popular before the Great War, but a bit more unkempt, a bit more forward and saucy, maybe like the Gibson Girl coming back home at 10 in the morning, hair mussed up and maybe a something of a little knowing glint in her eye. A political metaphor?

Ah, a thread I can get my choppers into! Mary Pickford, by the way, was not only a hot little number, but a terrifically talented actress (both in comedy and drama), and one of the great businesswomen of her day.

As far as movie makeup, in the early days (pre-1915), low-quality film stock and still-experimental lighting required heavy makeup for both men and women; when you see performers wearing no makeup, they look aged and washed-out. It was hit-or-miss, as everyone did their own hair, makeup and costuming till well into the 1920s. Offscreen, Nice Girls didn’t wear any makeup till the 1920s (though of course, they did anyway and just tried to make it look “natural”). Bad Girls and Vamps, like Theda Bara and Pola Negri, of course, tarted themselves up like French whores. Big eyes and tiny cupid’s-bow lips were the style from 1900 right up till the 1930s, with variations.

Hair. Mary Pickford popularized the sausage-curl look, though she certainly didn’t originate it. Irene Castle was actually the first celeb to bob her hair, in 1912, but the short-hair look didn’t really catch on till about 1923. I might add it looked severe and awful on the average woman: it only looked good if you had a perfect face, like Clara Bow or Louise Brooks . . .

Now, class, next week there will be a quiz on the shoulder pads and platinum hair of the 1930s . . .

Eve-didn’t Castle cut her hair after she accidentally caught it on fire?

Nope. Irene Castle was a competitive swimmer before she became a dancer, and chopped off her hair to give herself more speed. After she and Vernon became popular around 1914, people ADMIRED her bobbed hair, but very few women imitated it till the mid-1920s (by which time Irene was a has-been). If you look at person-on-the-street photos, most women still had long, pinned-up hair until about 1926.

It was really Colleen Moore, Louise Brooks, Clara Bow and a few others who really got the bobbed-hair look rolling.

I knew Eve would be drawn to this like a needle to magnetic north. Superb commentary, as expected.

And essvee beat me to it. While I think Mary Pickford is beautiful, of all the silent actresses I’ve seen, Lillian Gish just knocks me out.

And while Pickford was all the things Eve said she was, Lillian Gish was also extremely talented, and gave more than a couple of very touching performances.

Mmmmm…Mary Pickford…[drool…]

And here’s a nice photo gallery of America’s Sweetheart, for those who don’t know what the hell we’re talking about (click on images for enlargements): http://silentladies.com/PPickford5.html

And for essvee: knock yerself out.

Ah, for the days when women were women and men hung for dear life from the hands of giant clocks . . .

Ah, the Misses Gish and Pickford. Talent, brains and faces to die for.

Here’s another two beauts, Olive Thomas (1894–1920) and Florence LaBadie (1888–1917), less known but worth a look-see:



I’ve always been a Colleen Moore man, myself. :slight_smile:

Well, Necros, no sooner asked than granted: http://silentladies.com/PMoore3.html

Wow, check out those eyebrows.

Woohoo! Thanks, Eve!