100 Silent Queens

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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 companies...
 
2.
Gloria Swanson
Actress, Sunset Blvd.
Gloria Swanson was born Gloria May Josephine Svensson in Chicago, Illinois. She was destined to be perhaps one of the biggest stars of the silent movie era. Her personality and antics in private definitely made her a favorite with America's movie-going public. Gloria certainly didn't intend on going into show business...
 
3.
Lillian Gish
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 a.k.a...
 
4.
Marion Davies
Actress, Show People
Marion Davies, born Marion Cecilea Douras on January 3, 1897, was one of the great comedic actresses of the silent era and into the 30's. She began as a chorus girl in New York, first in the pony follies and later in the Ziegfield Follies. Her stage name came when she and her family passed the Davies Insurance Building...
 
5.
Clara Bow
Actress, Wings
Clara Bow was born in a run-down tenement in old Brooklyn, to a schizophrenic Mother and a chronically destitute, physically abusive father. As a child, she was a tomboy and played games in the streets with the boys; since her clothes were so ragged and dirty other girl children wouldn't play with her...
 
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 go to work in a department store...
 
7.
Mae Murray
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 joined the "Ziegfeld Follies" chorus line and moved up to headliner status by 1915...
 
8.
Dorothy Gish
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 part of the act...
 
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 by Hal Roach to star as Harold Lloyd's leading lady in his "Lonesome Luke" shorts...
 
10.
Colleen Moore
Actress, Ella Cinders
Her father was an irrigation engineer. She was convent-educated and studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory. D.W. Griffith brought her to Hollywood in 1917, returning a favor to her uncle, 'Walter C. Howey , the Chicago Examiner editor who helped him clear The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages through the censors...
 
11.
Corinne Griffith
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 was one of her most popular films...
 
12.
Blanche Sweet
Blanche Sweet was born Sarah Blanche Sweet on June 18, 1896 in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were vaudeville actors and she began performing at the age of four. In 1909 she signed a contract with Biograph studios. She made dozens of films and became known as "The Biograph Blonde". Blanche had a highly publicized affair with director Marshall Neilan...
 
13.
Betty Compson
Betty Compson was born Eleanor Luicime Compson on March 19, 1897, in Beaver, Utah. After her father's death she dropped out of school to help her family. She began her show business career as a violinist and toured with her mother in vaudeville. Betty was offered a contract with Al Christie in 1915...
 
14.
Dorothy Mackaill
Actress, Safe in Hell
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 traveled to Paris...
 
15.
Betty Bronson
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. She was hand-selected by author J.M. Barrie and beat several Hollywood superstars to the part, most notably Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford...
 
16.
Joan Crawford
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; Crawford worked a variety of menial jobs...
 
17.
Mabel Normand
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 "Fatty" Arbuckle in a series of shorts...
 
18.
Marie Dressler
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 the vaudeville circuit...
 
19.
Norma Shearer
Actress, The Women
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 correct her cross-eyed stare caused by a muscle weakness...
 
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 the Apocalypse (1921)'...
 
21.
Renée Adorée
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 acting surfaced during her teen years with minor stage productions in France...
 
22.
Vilma Bánky
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, especially playing with Ronald Colman...
 
23.
Pola Negri
Actress, The Wildcat
Barbara Apollina Chalupiec (aka Pola Negri) was born in Janowa, Poland on January 3, 1897. Pola was born into a comfortable lifestyle until her father was arrested by the Russians and sent to a Siberian prison camp. Moving to Warsaw in 1902, she was to spend her formative years in dire poverty. As a teenager...
 
24.
Dolores Costello
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 his day...
 
25.
Mary Astor
Her German immigrant father pushed her into a beauty contest at 14 and her first movie Sentimental Tommy at 15. After a number of minor parts she starred in John Barrymore's Beau Brummel. She had a lively affair with Barrymore, over with before she starred a second time with him, in Don Juan...
 
26.
Bessie Love
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 several of his films...
 
27.
Norma Talmadge
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 mother...
 
28.
Constance Talmadge
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 popular and enduring stars of romantic comedy...
 
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 capacity she heard that the Selwyn Organization...
 
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 beautiful girl in the US and in 1911 made her film debut in Molly Pitcher...
 
32.
Leatrice Joy
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 girls...
 
33.
Dolores del Rio
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 lost everything they had and emigrated to Mexico City...
 
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. She abandoned a burgeoning career in silents for marriage to Philip Plant in 1925; after they divorced...
 
36.
Edna Purviance
Actress, The Kid
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 First National...
 
37.
Clara Kimball Young
Actress, Eyes of Youth
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 she may have been born on one of her parents' tours...
 
38.
Theda Bara
Actress, Cleopatra
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 she was in New York in search of roles...
 
39.
Mae Marsh
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 various movie studios for work as extras...
 
40.
Anita Page
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, the first sound film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Her leading men included the likes of John Gilbert, Clark Gable, Buster Keaton and Robert Montgomery...
 
41.
Alice White
Alice White was born Alva Violet White on August 24, 1904 in Paterson, New Jersey. Her mother, a former chorus girl, died when she was just three years old. She was raised by her Italian grandparents in New Haven, Connecticut. When Alice was a teenager they moved to California where she attended Hollywood high school...
 
42.
Jobyna Ralston
Actress, Wings
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 to a local farmer...
 
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 15...
 
44.
Billie Dove
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 well-remembered in today's film circles as the aforementioned...
 
45.
Lupe Velez
Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, Lupe Velez and José Mojica as among the few Mexican people who made history in the early years of Hollywood. Vélez career began in Mexico City, where she lived with her mother and sisters. In 1925, while working in a clothes store, Vélez caught the attention of three theatrical managers who were impressed by her beauty and grace...
 
46.
Marie Prevost
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. 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 made another film...
 
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, as well - in fact...
 
49.
Jetta Goudal
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 cutter in Amsterdam...
 
50.
May Allison
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 death in '82 and lived in Cleveland Ohio...
 
51.
Barbara La Marr
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
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 talkies, and was soon relegated to smaller roles in minor productions.
 
53.
Sally O'Neil
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 was billed as "Chotsie Noonan" (her real name was Virginia Louise Concepta Noonan)...
 
54.
Mary Nolan
Actress, Desert Nights
Mary Nolan was born Mary Imogene Robertson on December 18, 1905 in Louisville, Kentucky. When she was a child her mother died from cancer and Mary's father placed her in a foster home. Eventually she moved to New York City and began working as a nude model. Producer Florenz Ziegfeld discovered her and gave her a featured role in the Ziegfeld Follies...
 
55.
Janet Gaynor
Actress, Sunrise
After graduating from high school in San Francisco, Janet moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at a Hollywood secretarial college. Eager to get into movies, she started working as an extra in comedy shorts. In 1925, she was hired by Fox and was cast in The Johnstown Flood. In 1927 she appeared in 7th Heaven as Diane and Sunrise as the wife in danger...
 
56.
Mary Brian
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 business...
 
57.
Pauline Frederick
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 in acting...
 
58.
Joan Bennett
Actress, Dark Shadows
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. Often...
 
59.
Loretta Young
Sweet, sweeter, sweetest. No combination of terms better describes the screen persona of lovely Loretta Young. A&E's Biography 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 dedication to her family...
 
60.
Marlene Dietrich
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 then as a cabaret singer...
 
61.
Greta Nissen
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. Afterwards she made several more films, but she was one of those who lost much work due to the advent of sound films...
 
62.
May McAvoy
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 rehearse a show at a nearby vaudeville theater...
 
63.
Alice Joyce
Alice Joyce, the film actress whose career stretched from the nickelodeon days into the sound era, was a natural actress, a true original. In an era that rewarded the unnatural in performance, Alice Joyce, with her understated performances, proved to be quite unlike most other silent-screen divas. She was born in Kansas City...
 
64.
Laura La Plante
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 for Fox and The Old Swimmin' Hole for First National. Laura, now 17, next signed with Universal, where she appeared in shorts...
 
65.
Dorothy Sebastian
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 harbored ambitions of becoming an actress...
 
66.
Gwen Lee
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 shortened her name from 'Gwendolyn LePinski' to 'Gwen Lee'...
 
67.
Louise Dresser
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), she...
 
68.
Olive Thomas
Actress, The Flapper
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 age of 16 (which wasn't uncommon at the time)...
 
69.
Carmel Myers
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, emigrated from Australia and her mother from Austria...
 
70.
Nita Naldi
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 quick...
 
71.
Fay Wray
Actress, King Kong
She was born Vina Fay Wray near Cardston, Alberta, Canada, on September 15, 1907. Fay was from a large family that included five siblings. She moved to Arizona when she was still small in order for her father to find better work than what was offered in Alberta. After moving again to California, her parents divorced...
 
72.
Jean Harlow
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 stakes and moved to Los Angeles...
 
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 appearing in a number of movies in the early 20's...
 
74.
Myrna Loy
Myrna Williams, later to become Myrna Loy, was born on August 2, 1905 in Radersburg, Montana. Her father was the youngest person ever elected to the Montana State legislature. Later on her family moved to Helena where she spent her youth. At the age of 13, Myrna's father died of influenza and the rest of the family moved to Los Angeles...
 
75.
Carole Lombard
Born in Indiana, she was eight years old when her parents divorced, and her mother took her and her two older brothers to L.A. to start a new life. At age twelve she was spotted playing baseball in the street by director Allan Dwan who cast her as a tom-boy in "A Perfect Crime". Bitten by the movie bug...
 
76.
Jean Arthur
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 Greene in upstate New York...
 
77.
Phyllis Haver
Actress, Chicago
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 she appeared in more than 35 short films...
 
78.
Viola Dana
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. The following year she received top billing playing "Gladiola Bain" in Gladiola...
 
79.
Shirley Mason
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 at age 11. As a child actress she wasn't in much demand until she grew older, then she began to take on more roles...
 
80.
Evelyn Brent
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, she...
 
81.
Lila Lee
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 as a poor girl supported by a rich admirer. Following her appearance as a servant wench in Cecil B. DeMille's Male and Female...
 
82.
Mary Miles Minter
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 Dustin Farnum...
 
83.
Marguerite Clark
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 looks of Pickford...
 
84.
Florence Lawrence
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 found...
 
85.
Pearl White
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 by the Powers Film Co...
 
86.
Lois Wilson
Actress, Guiding Light
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 and again appeared on stage.
 
87.
 
88.
Claire Windsor
Actress, The Blot
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 Seattle...
 
89.
Alla Nazimova
Actress, Salomé
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, Crimea...
 
90.
Alice Brady
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 first film was at the age of 22 when she starred in As Ye Sow...
 
91.
Esther Ralston
Actress, Peter Pan
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 same name (The American Venus). A decade later, the blonde beauty's career, however, had tapered off...
 
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 of the Metropolitan Opera in New York...
 
95.
Louise Brooks
Actress, Pandora's Box
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 before joining the Ziegfeld Follies...
 
96.
Ann Little
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 play in San Francisco...
 
97.
Lya De Putti
Actress, Variety
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, before going to Hollywood in 1926. While in America she starred in several movies, mostly in vamp roles.
 
98.
Asta Nielsen
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 the...
 
99.
Henny Porten
Actress, Anna Boleyn
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, making her one of the earliest film actresses anywhere in the world...
 
100.
Zasu Pitts
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 the family in Kansas by the time ZaSu was born but relocated to Santa Cruz...