100 Silent Queens

by drednm | last updated - 26 Apr 2011 | Public

1. Mary Pickford

Actress | Coquette

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Elsie Charlotte (Hennessy) and John Charles Smith. She was of English and Irish descent. Pickford began in the theater at age seven. Then known as "Baby Gladys Smith", she toured with her family in a number of theater ...

2. Gloria Swanson

Actress | Sunset Blvd.

Gloria Swanson went to public schools in Chicago; Key West, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her film debut was as an extra in The Fable of Elvira and Farina and the Meal Ticket (1915). From the following year on, she had leading roles in pictures for Keystone, then a year with Triangle, and, in...

3. Lillian Gish

Actress | The Night of the Hunter

Lillian Diana Gish was born on October 14, 1893 in Springfield, Ohio. Her father James Lee Gish was an alcoholic who caroused around, was rarely at home and left the family to more or less to fend for themselves. To help make ends meet, Lillian, her sister Dorothy Gish and their mother Mary Gish ...

4. Marion Davies

Actress | The Patsy

Marion Cecelia Douras was born in the borough of Brooklyn, New York on January 3, 1897. She had been bitten by the show biz bug early as she watched her sisters perform in local stage productions. She wanted to do the same. As Marion got older, she tried out for various school plays and did fairly ...

5. Clara Bow

Actress | Wings

Clara Gordon Bow, destined to become THE flapper of the 1920's, was born on July 29, 1905 and raised in poverty and violence in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother tried to slit Clara's throat when she attempted to enter the film industry. She won a photo beauty contest which launched her movie career ...

6. Greta Garbo

Actress | Ninotchka

Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden, to Anna Lovisa (Johansdotter), who worked at a jam factory, and Karl Alfred Gustafsson, a laborer. She was fourteen when her father died, which left the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and ...

7. Mae Murray

Actress | Peacock Alley

Dubbed "The Girl with the Bee Stung Lips", silent-era screen star Mae Murray began her career on stage partnered with ballroom dancing extraordinaire Vernon Castle in the 1906 Broadway show "About Town." Born the daughter of émigrés, she began studying dance at a young age. Two years later she ...

8. Dorothy Gish

Actress | Orphans of the Storm

Dorothy Gish was born into a broken family where her restless father James Lee Gish was frequently absent. Mary Robinson McConnell a.k.a. Mary Gish, her mother, had entered into acting to make money to support the family. As soon as Dorothy and her sister Lillian Gish were old enough, they became ...

9. Bebe Daniels

Actress | 42nd Street

Bebe Daniels already had toured as an actor by the age of four in a stage production of "Richard III". She had her first leading role at the age of seven and started her film career shortly after this in movies for Imperial, Pathe and others. At 14 she was already a film veteran, and was enlisted ...

10. Colleen Moore

Actress | Lilac Time

Colleen Moore was born Kathleen Morrison in Port Huron, Michigan. Her father was an irrigation engineer and his job was good enough to provide the family a middle-class environment. She was educated in parochial schools and studied at the famed Detroit Conservatory. Colleen's family moved to ...

11. Corinne Griffith

Actress | The Divine Lady

Corinne Griffith was a popular star of the silent movies. She started her film career at Vitagraph in 1916 and later moved to First National, where she became one of that studio's biggest stars. At the height of her popularity she was known as the "Orchid Lady of the Screen." Black Oxen (1923) was ...

12. Blanche Sweet

Actress | The Unpardonable Sin

Born into a family of show people, Blanche first appeared on the stage when she was 18 months old. Blanche was a dancer by the time she was four and a talented actress by 1909 when she started work at Biograph with D.W. Griffith. At 14, she was two years younger than Mary Pickford, but her maturity...

13. Betty Compson

Actress | Mr. & Mrs. Smith

A mining engineer's daughter, blond, blue-eyed Betty Compson began in show business playing violin in a Salt Lake City vaudeville establishment for $15 a week. Following that, she went on tour, accompanied by her mother, with an act called 'the Vagabond Violinist'. Aged eighteen, she appeared on ...

14. Dorothy Mackaill

Actress | Kept Husbands

Dorothy Mackaill was 11 when her parents separated; she then lived with her father. A rebellious teenager, Dorothy -- who had long wanted a career in the theater -- ran away to London and finally persuaded her father to pay for her board and lessons. Her first job was in the chorus; she then ...

15. Betty Bronson

Actress | Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Betty Bronson's discovery reads like a Hollywood dream. As a New Jersey teenage bit-player, she was rocketed from obscurity when she was chosen to play the part of Peter Pan in 1924's Peter Pan (1924). She was hand-selected by author J.M. Barrie and beat several Hollywood superstars to the part, ...

16. Joan Crawford

Actress | What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23, 1905, in San Antonio, Texas, to Anna Belle (Johnson) and Thomas E. LeSueur, a laundry laborer. By the time she was born, her parents had separated, and by the time she was a teenager, she'd had three stepfathers. It wasn't an easy life; ...

17. Mabel Normand

Actress | Mickey

Mabel Normand was one of the comedy greats of early film. In an era when women are deemed 'not funny enough' it seems film history has forgotten her contributions. Her films debuted the Keystone Cops, Charlie Chaplin's tramp and the pie in the face gag. She co-starred with both Chaplin and Roscoe "...

18. Marie Dressler

Actress | Min and Bill

Once you saw her, you would not forget her. Despite her age and weight, she became one of the top box office draws of the sound era. She was 14 when she joined a theater group and she went on to work on stage and in light opera. By 1892, she was on Broadway and she later became a star comedienne on...

19. Norma Shearer

Actress | The Divorcee

She won a beauty contest at age fourteen. In 1920 her mother, Edith Shearer, took Norma and her sister Athole Shearer (Mrs. Howard Hawks) to New York. Ziegfeld rejected her for his "Follies," but she got work as an extra in several movies. She spent much money on eye doctor's services trying to ...

20. Alice Terry

Actress | The Magician

Alice started as an extra in films at age 15. She worked in "Inceville" and would appear as several characters in 'Civilization (1916)'. In 1917, she would meet director Rex Ingram and they would marry in 1921. It was also in 1921 that Alice would gain acclaim as Marguerite in 'The Four Horsemen of...

21. Renée Adorée

Actress | The Big Parade

Renee Adoree was born Jeanne de la Fontein in Lille in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, on September 30, 1898. She had what one could call a normal childhood. Her background is, perhaps, one of the most difficult to find information on any actress in existence. What we do know that her interest in ...

22. Vilma Bánky

Actress | The Son of the Sheik

Vilma Bánky appeared in Hungarian, Austrian and French movies between 1920 and 1925, the year in which Samuel Goldwyn signed her, in Budapest, to a Hollywood contract. In Hollywood she was billed as the "The Hungarian Rhapsody". In the mid and late 1920s she was Goldwyn's biggest money maker, ...

23. Pola Negri

Actress | Die Bergkatze

Pola Negri was born in Lipno, Poland, and moved to Warsaw as a child. Living in poverty with her mother, a teenage Pola auditioned and was accepted to the Imperial Ballet. Due to an illness that ended her dancing career, she soon switched to the Warsaw Imperial Academy of Dramatic Arts and became ...

24. Dolores Costello

Actress | Old San Francisco

Dolores Costello was once known as the Goddess of the Silent Screen but is probably best remembered today as Drew Barrymore's grandmother. She was born in 1905 to actors Maurice Costello and Mae Costello. Her father began his film career in 1908. He would soon become the most popular matinée idol of...

25. Mary Astor

Actress | The Maltese Falcon

Mary Astor was born, Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke, on May 3, 1906 in Quincy, Illinois to a German immigrant father, Otto Ludwig Langhanke, and an American mother from Illinois, Helen Marie Vasconcellos, of Portuguese and Irish ancestry. Her parents were very ambitious for her as they recognized ...

26. Bessie Love

Actress | The Broadway Melody

Bessie Love was born in Texas. Her cowboy father moved the family to Hollywood, where he became a chiropractor. As the family needed money, Bessie's mother sent her to Biograph Studios, hoping she would become an actress. D.W. Griffith saw she was pretty and had some acting talent, and put her in ...

27. Norma Talmadge

Actress | Smilin' Through

Norma Talmadge was born on May 26, 1895, in Jersey City, New Jersey. The daughter of an unemployed alcoholic and his wife, Norma did not have the idyllic childhood that most of us yearn for. Her father left the family on Christmas Day and his wife and three daughters had to fend for themselves. Her...

28. Constance Talmadge

Actress | Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages

She was blonde; star sister Norma Talmadge was brunette. She was buoyant and a comedienne; Norma was introspective and a tragedienne. Nicknamed "Dutch" by her stage mother Peg as she looked like a cherubic Little Dutch Boy, silver screen star Constance Talmadge was one of silent pictures' most ...

29. Pauline Starke

Actress | Captain Salvation

Pauline Starke was born on January 10, 1901 in Joplin, Missouri, USA. She was an actress, known for Captain Salvation (1927), The Viking (1928) and Love's Blindness (1926). She was married to George Sherwood and Jack White. She died on February 3, 1977 in Santa Monica, California, USA.

30. Eleanor Boardman

Actress | The Crowd

Philadelphia-born Eleanor Boardman had always wanted to be an actress, and as soon as she graduated high school she headed for New York to conquer Broadway. When Broadway proved not quite ready to be conquered yet, she took whatever jobs she could find, including one as an artist's model. In that ...

31. Anna Q. Nilsson

Actress | Sunset Blvd.

Anna Quirentia Nilsson, popularly known as "Anna Q", who was born on March 30th, 1888, in Ystad, Sweden, emigrated to the United States in 1905. The 5'7" Nilsson used her blonde beauty to become a famous model for well-known fashion photographers and fine artists. In 1907 she was chosen the most ...

32. Leatrice Joy

Actress | The Ace of Hearts

Making her film debut as an extra in 1917, Leatrice Joy soon graduated to playing opposite comics Billy West and Oliver Hardy. Director Cecil B. DeMille took her under his wing and starred her in several of his films. Often playing career girls dressed in mannish suits, or sophisticated society ...

33. Dolores del Rio

Actress | Las abandonadas

Dolores del Rio was the first Mexican movie star with international appeal and had a meteoric career in 1920s Hollywood (an extraordinary accomplishment for an Hispanic female on those years). She came from an aristocratic family in Durango. In the Mexican revolution of 1916, however, the family ...

34. Carol Dempster

Actress | Isn't Life Wonderful

Carol Dempster was born on December 9, 1901 in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. She was an actress, known for Isn't Life Wonderful (1924), One Exciting Night (1922) and The White Rose (1923). She was married to Edwin S Larsen. She died on February 1, 1991 in La Jolla, California, USA.

35. Constance Bennett

Actress | Topper

Independent, outspoken Constance Bennett, the first of the Bennett sisters to enter films, appeared in New York-produced silents before a chance meeting with Samuel Goldwyn led to her Hollywood debut in Cytherea (1924). She abandoned a burgeoning career in silents for marriage to Philip Plant in ...

36. Edna Purviance

Actress | A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate

Edna Purviance began working as a stenographer in San Francisco. Charles Chaplin invited her to join him at Essanay Studio in 1915, the year of her film debut in Chaplin's His Night Out. Over the next seven years she appeared as his leading lady in over 20 Chaplin films made by Essanay, Mutual, and...

37. Clara Kimball Young

Actress | The Common Law

Clara Kimball Young was born Clarisa Kimball on September 6, 1890, to Edward Kimball and the former Mrs. E.M. Kimball, traveling stock company actors with the Holden Co. Though she claimed Chicago as her birthplace, there are no records of her being born in Cook County--which includes Chicago--and ...

38. Theda Bara

Actress | A Fool There Was

Theda Bara was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, as Theodosia Goodman, on July 29, 1885. She was the daughter of a local tailor and his wife. As a teenager Theda was interested in the theatrical arts and once she finished high school, she dyed her blond hair black and went in pursuit of her dream. By 1908 ...

39. Mae Marsh

Actress | Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages

Mae Marsh's father was an auditor for the railroad who died when she was four. Her family moved to San Francisco, where her stepfather was killed in the 1906 earthquake. Her great-aunt then took Mae and her sister to Los Angeles. With her show business background, Mae's aunt took them to the ...

40. Anita Page

Actress | The Broadway Melody

Beautiful Anita Page was one of the most famous and popular leading ladies during the last years of the silent screen and the first years of the talkie era. She was best known for starring in The Broadway Melody (1929), the first sound film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Her leading men...

41. Alice White

Actress | Show Girl in Hollywood

This Hollywood High graduate began her career as a secretary and script girl, working for Josef von Sternberg and Charles Chaplin. A sexy and bubbly player, she was repeatedly miscast as a singer-dancer. She toured the vaudeville circuit after her career spluttered, returning to Hollywood only to ...

42. Jobyna Ralston

Actress | Lightning

Curly-locked, cherubic knockabout comedienne of the silent cinema. Her mother, portrait photographer Mrs. Kemp Raulston, named her after her favorite actress, Jobyna Howland. She harbored ambitions for her daughter to achieve similar fame and trained her to that end. After a failed teenage marriage...

43. Tallulah Bankhead

Actress | Lifeboat

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was born on January 31, 1902 in Huntsville, Alabama. Her father was a mover and shaker in the Democratic Party who served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from June 4, 1936, to September 16, 1940. Tallulah had been interested in acting and, at age ...

44. Billie Dove

Actress | The Black Pirate

In her silent heyday, this ravishing and highly photogenic star, known for her voluptuous femininity on the silent screen, rivaled that of Mary Pickford, Marion Davies and Clara Bow in popularity. She retired after only a few years into the talking picture era, however, and is not as ...

45. Lupe Velez

Actress | The Girl from Mexico

Lupe Velez was born on July 18, 1908, in San Luis de Potosi, Mexico, as Maria Guadalupe Villalobos Velez. She was sent to Texas at the age of 13 to live in a convent. She later admitted that she wasn't much of a student because she was so rambunctious. She had planned to become a champion ...

46. Marie Prevost

Actress | The Racket

Marie Prevost was born Mary Bickford Dunn in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, on November 8, 1898. She broke into films when she was 18 years old in Unto Those Who Sin (1916). Finding work in films was difficult in the early days, just as it is today. Marie found herself doing odd jobs until 1917, when she...

47. Annette Kellerman

Actress | Venus of the South Seas

Annette Kellerman was born on July 6, 1887 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia as Annette Marie Sarah Kellerman. She is known for her work on Venus of the South Seas (1924), Jephtah's Daughter: A Biblical Tragedy (1909) and What Women Love (1920). She was married to James R. Sullivan. She died on...

48. Betty Blythe

Actress | She

Brunette, buxom matinee idol Betty Blythe capitalised on the 'roaring 20's' infatuation with exotic screen sirens to achieve a brief period of stardom. She was notoriously one of the first actresses to ever appear nude (or in various stages of undress) on screen. It wasn't that Betty couldn't act, ...

49. Jetta Goudal

Actress | Fighting Love

Although Dutch-born silent screen femme fatale Jetta Goudal (pronounced Zhett-eh Goo-doll) may be pretty much forgotten today, she was, in her glorious Hollywood heyday, a star rivaling that of Gloria Swanson and fellow vamps Barbara La Marr and Nita Naldi. The daughter of a Jewish orthodox diamond...

50. May Allison

Actress | Fair and Warmer

Born in Rising Fawn, GA (youngest of 5 children) Parents: Dr. John S. Allison and Nannie Virginia Wise Sisters: Maude, Verda, Zetta Brother: Herschel Mother Lived with her in California until her death. After Quirk's death, she met C. N. Osborne in NYC, they were married for over 40 years until his...

51. Barbara La Marr

Actress | The Three Musketeers

Reatha Watson (Barbara La Marr) is most famous as one of the first drug-related deaths in Hollywood, but she is notable for many other reasons. Born in Yakima, Washington, her parents moved to the Imperial Valley in California, where Reatha began her explorations of Los Angeles as a teenager. After...

52. Marguerite De La Motte

Actress | The Mark of Zorro

Marguerite de la Motte was trained as a dancer, reputedly by the great ballerina Anna Pavlova, and entered films in 1918. She played opposite Douglas Fairbanks in many of his productions. Like many performers of the silent era, however, she was not able to sustain her career with the coming of ...

53. Sally O'Neil

Actress | Girl of the Port

Cute-as-a-button and diminutive in size, Sally O'Neil (sometimes billed as Sally O'Neill), was one of 11 children born to a judge in 1908 in Bayonne, New Jersey. Another sister would also become a well-known actress, Molly O'Day. Sally was educated in a convent and started in vaudeville where she ...

54. Mary Nolan

Actress | Desert Nights

Blonde and utterly beautiful, Mary Nolan had the requisite figure and prettiness to rise up fast in the Hollywood ranks. Her downfall, however, would be just as fast and not at all pretty. She was born Mary Imogene Robertson in 1905 and began her show-business career as a teenage model. Showman ...

55. Janet Gaynor

Actress | Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Janet Gaynor was born Laura Gainor on October 6, 1906, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, she & her parents moved to San Francisco, California, where she graduated from high school in 1923. She then moved to Los Angeles where she enrolled in a secretarial school. She got a job at a shoe ...

56. Mary Brian

Actress | Charlie Chan in Paris

Dubbed "The Sweetest Girl in Pictures", Mary Brian started life as Louise Byrdie Datzler. She was born in Corsicana, Texas, and went to high school in Dallas. Her widowed mother had big plans for young Louise and took her to California in 1923, with the intention of getting her into the film ...

57. Pauline Frederick

Actress | Bonds of Love

Pauline Frederick was born Pauline Beatrice Libby in Boston, Massachusetts on August 12, 1883. She was fascinated with show business from an early age and throughout her childhood, she was bred for a career in music. It has been said she had a terrific soprano voice, but Pauline also dabbled a bit ...

58. Joan Bennett

Actress | Suspiria

Joan Geraldine Bennett was born on February 27, 1910, in Palisades, New Jersey. Her parents were both successful stage actors, especially her father, Richard Bennett, and often toured the country for weeks at a time. In fact, Joan came from a long line of actors, dating back to the 18th century. ...

59. Loretta Young

Actress | The Farmer's Daughter

Sweet, sweeter, sweetest. No combination of terms better describes the screen persona of lovely Loretta Young. A&E's Biography (1987) has stated that Young "remains a symbol of beauty, serenity, and grace. But behind the glamor and stardom is a woman of substance whose true beauty lies in her ...

60. Marlene Dietrich

Soundtrack | Witness for the Prosecution

Her father was a police lieutenant and imbued in her a military attitude to life. Marlene was known in school for her "bedroom eyes" and her first affairs were at this stage in her life - a professor at the school was terminated. She entered the cabaret scene in 1920s Germany, first as a spectator ...

61. Greta Nissen

Actress | The Unwritten Law

Greta Ruzt-Nissen was born in Oslo, Norway, on January 30, 1905. As a young girl she studied dance and had intended to make a career out of it. For a while she did, but when she was 19 she appeared in her first big-screen production, The Wanderer (1925). Afterwards she made several more films, but ...

62. May McAvoy

Actress | Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Silent-screen star May McAvoy was born in an upscale area of New York City. Her well-to-do family owned and operated a large livery stable situated where the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel now stands. She initially wanted to be a teacher but became intrigued with show business after watching a friend ...

63. Alice Joyce

Actress | The Third Degree

Having worked as a telephone operator at age 13 and a fashion model afterwards, Alice Joyce joined the Kalem film company at 20, making her debut in The Deacon's Daughter (1910), and achieved popularity as a charming, proper leading lady in many shorts. After Vitagraph bought out Kalem, Joyce began ...

64. Laura La Plante

Actress | The Cat and the Canary

Laura La Plante was 15 years old when she entered films as a Christie Comedy Bathing Beauty. By 1921, she had played a number of roles including a Tom Mix Western called The Big Town Round-Up (1921) for Fox and The Old Swimmin' Hole (1921) for First National. Laura, now 17, next signed with ...

65. Dorothy Sebastian

Actress | Ship of Wanted Men

The daughter of a clergyman and a mother, who was an accomplished painter of portraits and landscapes, Stella Dorothy Sabiston spent her formative years in her home state of Alabama. She had three siblings, all of whom died relatively young. She attended the University of Alabama, but always ...

66. Gwen Lee

Actress | Laugh, Clown, Laugh

She was one of the archetypal flappers of the Jazz Age. Blonde, blue-eyed and impeccably coiffured, we recall Gwen Lee as tall, blonde flibbertigibbets and gold-digging vamps in films of the late 1920's and early 30's. Gwen was born in Nebraska and attended school in Omaha. Having suitably ...

67. Louise Dresser

Actress | The Scarlet Empress

This knowing, plump-framed, strong-willed actress went on to play the gamut of emotions, from downtrodden, drunken ex-stars to self-controlled dowager empresses, in both silent pictures and early talkies. Grandly supporting the huge stars of her day (including Rudolph Valentino and Will Rogers), ...

68. Olive Thomas

Actress | Beatrice Fairfax

Oliveretta Elaine Duffy was born on October 20, 1894, in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. Olive, as she was known to family and friends, did not have much of a childhood. Life in industrial Pittsburgh was depressing and grim with its smoky factories and hard living. She married Bernard Krug Thomas at the ...

69. Carmel Myers

Actress | Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Though she is little remembered today, silent screen star Carmel Myers had a high-flying career in her heyday and was ranked among the screen's most glamorous and enticing vamps. She was born at the turn of the century in San Francisco, the daughter of immigrant parents. Her father, a rabbi, ...

70. Nita Naldi

Actress | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Nonna Dooley, the future silent screen star, began her career as a showgirl in a Shubert revue in the Winter Garden, later went on to the famed Ziegfeld Follies.

After a successful career on the stage with the Follies, Nita decided to try her hand with films in Hollywood. Her rise to fame was very ...

71. Fay Wray

Actress | King Kong

Canadian-born Fay Wray was brought up in Los Angeles and entered films at an early age. She was barely in her teens when she started working as an extra. She began her career as a heroine in westerns at Universal during the silent era. In 1926 the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers ...

72. Jean Harlow

Actress | Bombshell

Harlean Carpenter, who later became Jean Harlow, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 3, 1911. She was the daughter of a successful dentist and his wife. In 1927, at the age of 16, she ran away from home to marry a young businessman named Charles McGrew, who was 23. The couple pulled up ...

73. Madge Bellamy

Actress | White Zombie

Madge got her start in theater working with a stock company in Denver. Put under a personal contract by a Broadway producer, Madge got her big break when she replaced Helen Hayes in the Broadway play "Dear Brutus". Her success as a stage actress led to her being signed by Fox Pictures. After ...

74. Myrna Loy

Actress | The Best Years of Our Lives

Myrna Loy was born Myrna Adele Williams on August 2, 1905 in Helena, Montana, to Adelle Mae (Johnson) and David Franklin Williams. Her paternal grandparents were Welsh, and her mother was of Scottish and Swedish descent. Myrna was raised in Helena and nearby Radersburg. Her father, a rancher, was ...

75. Carole Lombard

Actress | My Man Godfrey

Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on October 6, 1908. Her parents divorced in 1916 and her mother took the family on a trip out West. While there they decided to settle down in the Los Angeles area. After being spotted playing baseball in the street with the ...

76. Jean Arthur

Actress | The More the Merrier

This marvelous screen comedienne's best asset was only muffled during her seven years' stint in silent films. That asset? It was, of course, her squeaky, frog-like voice, which silent-era cinema audiences had simply no way of perceiving, much less appreciating. Jean Arthur, born Gladys Georgianna ...

77. Phyllis Haver

Actress | The Midnight Express

Phyllis Haver was born Phyllis O'Haver on January 6, 1899, in Douglas, KS. When she was a child her family moved to California. Young Phyllis got a job playing piano at a local movie theater. Producer Mack Sennett saw her and hired her to be one of his "Sennett Bathing Beauties". Between 1916-20 ...

78. Viola Dana

Actress | Two Sisters

Viola Dana (real name Virginia Flugrath) was born in Brooklyn, NY, on June 26, 1897. She was the middle sister of three sisters (the other two were Edna Flugrath and Shirley Mason). She made her film debut in 1914 in Molly the Drummer Boy (1914). The following year she received top billing playing ...

79. Shirley Mason

Actress | Sweet Rosie O'Grady

Shirley Mason was born Leonie Flugrath on June 6, 1900, in Brooklyn, NY. The youngest of three acting sisters (the others were Edna Flugrath and Viola Dana), Shirley made her debut in At the Threshold of Life (1911) at age 11. As a child actress she wasn't in much demand until she grew older, then ...

80. Evelyn Brent

Actress | The Silver Horde

Petite, sultry leading lady of the 1920's and 30's, who was born and schooled in Tampa, Florida, until the age of ten when she lost her mother. She moved to New York with her dad and started modelling while still in her teens. Her original intention was to go into the teaching profession. Instead, ...

81. Lila Lee

Actress | The Unholy Three

A performer since childhood (she was widely known then as "Cuddles"), pert and pretty, raven-haired Lila Lee was brought to Hollywood by Paramount mogul Jesse L. Lasky and debuted in a starring role with The Cruise of the Make-Believes (1918) as a poor girl supported by a rich admirer. Following ...

82. Mary Miles Minter

Actress | Anne of Green Gables

Little Mary Miles Minter was a child star who was dominated by her mother. At the age of 5 she first appeared on the stage in the play "Cameo Kirby". From that time on she worked steadily without a single vacation. Her greatest stage success was in "The Littlest Rebel", with William Farnum and ...

83. Marguerite Clark

Actress | Scrambled Wives

In the 1910s, waifs and child-women like Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish and Mary Miles Minter were dominant forces at America's box offices. Audiences welcomed Marguerite Clark into this group, especially those who preferred her dark brown hair and large brown eyes to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed ...

84. Florence Lawrence

Actress | Not Like Other Girls

Florence Lawrence was the first film player whose name was used to promote her films and the studio (Independent Moving Pictures Company [IMP]) for which she worked. Before her, actors and actresses worked anonymously, partly out of fear that stage managers would refuse to hire them if they were ...

85. Pearl White

Actress | The Perils of Pauline

Born on her father's farm in Green Ridge, Missouri, the youngest of five children. Moved with her family to Springfield, Missouri, where she grew up. Joined the Diemer Theatre Company during her second year of high school, and went on the road with a touring stock company at age 18, in 1907. Signed...

86. Lois Wilson

Actress | Miss Lulu Bett

A schoolteacher who became a stage actress (briefly), Lois Wilson entered films in 1916 at Paramount (her sisters, Diana Kane and Connie Lewis, also worked as actresses). Wilson played leading roles well into the sound era, and after she retired from the screen she worked sporadically in television...

87. Belle Bennett

Actress | Flesh and Spirit

Belle Bennett was born on April 22, 1891 in Milaca, Minnesota, USA. She was an actress, known for Flesh and Spirit (1922), The Iron Mask (1929) and Courage (1930). She was married to Jack Oaker and William Macy . She died on November 4, 1932 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

88. Claire Windsor

Actress | Grand Larceny

Silent-era star Claire Windsor was born Clara Viola Cronk in Cawker City, Kansas, the daughter of Ella and G.E. Cronk. She was educated at Broadway High School in Seattle, Washington, and Washburn Preperatory Academy in Topeka, Kansas. She studied voice and piano at Cohn's Conservatory of Music in ...

89. Alla Nazimova

Actress | Eye for Eye

The grand, highly flamboyant Russian star Alla Nazimova of Hollywood silent films lived an equally grand, flamboyant life off-camera, though her legendary status has not held up as firmly as that of a Rudolph Valentino today.

Alla Nazimova was born Miriam Edez Adelaida Leventon in 1879, in Yalta, ...

90. Alice Brady

Actress | In Old Chicago

Alice Brady was born in New York City on November 2, 1892. She was interested in the stage from childhood, as her father was famed Broadway producer William A. Brady. After a few stage productions, Alice was discovered by movie producers in New York, since this was the film capital at the time. Her...

91. Esther Ralston

Actress | Shadows of the Orient

Projected as wholesome but fun-loving, Maine-born leading lady Esther Ralston enjoyed a prime silent age career and, at her peak, was packaged and publicized as "The American Venus" by none other than that of showman Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. after appearing as a dazzling beauty queen in the film of the...

92. Anita Stewart

Actress | A Midnight Romance

Anita Stewart was born on February 7, 1895 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Anna M. Stewart. She was an actress and producer, known for A Midnight Romance (1919), Her Kingdom of Dreams (1919) and The Great White Way (1924). She was married to George Peabody Converse and Rudolph Cameron....

93. Geraldine Farrar

Actress | Carmen

Famed singer and author Geraldine Farrar was educated in public schools and then became a music student of Mrs. J.H. Long, Trabadello, Emma Thursby, Lilli Lehman and Graziani. Her 1901 debut was at the Royal Opera House in Berlin, in the role of Marguerite in "Faust". From 1906-22 she was a member ...

94. Patsy Ruth Miller

Actress | The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Patsy Ruth Miller was born on January 17, 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA as Patricia Ruth Miller. She was an actress, known for The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), Broken Hearts of Hollywood (1926) and Beautiful But Dumb (1928). She was married to Effingham Smith Deans, John Lee Mahin and Tay ...

95. Louise Brooks

Actress | Die Büchse der Pandora

Mary Louise Brooks, also known by her childhood name of Brooksie, was born in the midwestern town of Cherryvale, Kansas, on November 14, 1906. She began dancing at an early age with the Denishawn Dancers (which was how she left Kansas and went to New York) and then with George White's Scandals ...

96. Ann Little

Actress | The Squaw Man

Unlike many serial heroines, Ann Little actually was a daughter of the West. Born in a small town near the foot of northern California's Mt. Shasta, she was raised on a ranch in the shadow of the great mountain. After graduating high school, she joined a traveling stock company, winding up in a ...

97. Lya De Putti

Actress | Manon Lescaut

The daughter of a Hungarian baron and countess, Lya De Putti went on to perform classical ballet in Berlin, Germany, after a brief stint in Hungarian vaudeville. She later made several films at the German UFA studios, most notably Variety (1925), before going to Hollywood in 1926. While in America ...

98. Asta Nielsen

Actress | Hamlet

Danish leading woman of German films who became one of the greatest stars of the silent era. A native of the Copenhagen suburb of Vesterbro, Nielsen was the daughter of a coppersmith and a washerwoman, both of whom died before Nielsen was fifteen. Her stage debut came as a child in the chorus of ...

99. Henny Porten

Actress | Hintertreppe

Henny Porten was born January 7, 1890, in Magdeburg, Germany. She had one of the longest careers of any German actress and was highly sought after because of her wonderful thespian skills. Henny's career would stretch over six decades, from 1906 to 1955. Her first film was in Apachentanz (1906), ...

100. Zasu Pitts

Actress | Greed

Classic comedienne Zasu Pitts, of the timid, forlorn blue eyes and trademark woebegone vocal pattern and fidgety hands, was born to Rulandus and Nellie (Shay) Pitts, the third of four children on January 3, 1894. Her aged New York-native father, who lost a leg back in the Civil War era, had settled...