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Lesser Known Silent Stars


Burton83
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Rather depends on who you consider to be lesser known Stars? Also depends on if you are talking the 10's or the 20's? For instance, Norma and Constance Talmadge, Pola Negri, Corinne Griffith, and Colleen Moore are not all that well known today. Though they should be. In the 20's few names were bigger then these. In 1926 Colleen was the top Box-office Star male or female in the country.

 

Gloria Swanson is far more familiar a name than Negri today, but Pola was probably the queen of Paramount at the time, not Swanson. Bit of a toss up there from movie to movie. Betty Compson was also a major movie name for allot of years. Viola Dana was really big in the first half of the 20's. As was Betty Blythe. Jacqueline Logan was without a doubt one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood. She had a long productive carrer and a stong fan base. Yet she never became a Superstar.

 

Jackie Coogan is only remembered for Chaplin's THE KID. But he was a major, major name in his own right. As was fellow child Star Baby Peggy Montgomery. At last Baby Peggy is starting to be re-discovered after decades of neglect. And the lady herself Diana Sera Cary is still alive today. An unacknowledged national treasure.

 

 

Tom Mix was as big as anybody. I mean anybody. Consistently ranking near are at the very top in all the popularity polls year after year. Not just by the fans, but exhibitors alike. Richard Dix and Thomas Meighan are not exactly names that even people that consider themselves Silent film fans would automatically recognize now, but Meighan was arguably a bigger Star than Valentino. His films were consistent Money-Makers. Rudy's were not.

 

 

Milton Sills was a giant Matinee Idol during the 20's, and one of the great Hollywood heartthrobs amongst the ladies. Eugene O'Brien likewise was right up there with Rudy in the first half of the 20's. Of course Wallace Reid was a Superstar but died in 1923. Sticking with the guys, Richard Barthelmess was very big for a long time. Ben Lyon was became a big leading man by 1924 and another major heartthrob. So was Rod La Rocque. Antonio Moreno had a strong fan base and was a top leading man. Conrad Nagel was a durable name.

 

 

Florence Lawrence, and Marguerite Clark where huge Stars in the 1910's. Clark was probably Mary Pickford's number 1 rival in the Teen's. America's other Movie Sweetheart. She left Hollywood in 1920 and basically did not return. Olive Thomas of course also died under dubious circumstances in 1920. Roscoe Arbuckle was a true Mega-Star until the infamous Virginia Rapee' scandal derailed everything.

 

 

Francis X. Bushman was once known as the King Of Hollywood! Today we mostly know him only from the 1925 BEN HUR, which was actually a career comeback for him. Then there was Hobart Bosworth a grade A level Star in the teen's who settled into character rolls during the 20's, but still got the occasional top billing.

 

 

Comedian John Bunny when he died was described as the most famous man in the World! Like Bushman, not many of Bunny's. Lawrence, or Clark's films still exist and they are rather mysteries lost to time. Mae Marsh was another top Star of the Teen's.

 

 

Mary Miles Minter was for a time the highest paid actress in Hollywood, before the William Desmond Taylor murder and scandal that doomed her career. Similar deal with the effect it had on Mabel Normand's standing.

 

 

Blanche Sweet and Pauline Fredrick ranked right with Lillian Gish and Norma Talmadge as probably the most acclaimed actresses on the screen. Possibly Alice Joyce as well. Dorothy Gish is certainly far lesser known than her beloved Sister. Speaking of Sisters, how about the Novak's Jane and Eva? They were extremely popular and well known for a time.

 

 

William S. Hart was a gigantic Silent Star who should be much better remembered. Along with other Western Stars such as Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, and Ken Maynard.

 

 

Anna Q. Nillson, and Aileen Pringle were very well known and much loved Stars, that are all but unknown today. Mae Murray is largely forgotten as well. So to is Claire Windsor. Sadly, Marie Prevost and Phyllis Haver have pretty much faded into obscurity. Florence Vidor was no small movie name. Kansas City Kitty Laura La Plante had a nice run from 1924 to 1929. At least a couple of those years rating in the top 10 female draws box-office wise.

 

 

Bebe Daniels was certainly much beloved from the time she was Harold Lloyd's leading lady, to the De Mille Domestic Comedies in late 1919-20 though the rest of the decade.

 

 

Barbara La Marr was a Major Star who died suddenly in late 1925. Much the same with Martha Mansfield. Charles Ray was very big in the late Teen's, and early 20's.

 

 

Charley Chase was the number 1 Star of shorts or two-reel comedies from 1924 to into the early 30's. Not just in America, but World wide. Reginald Denny was widely popular in feature comedies.

 

 

Heck, Rin Tin Tin was receiving Twelve Thousand fan letters a week on average, and he was a German Shepard! I could go on and on.

 

 

As the Silent Era in Tinseltown grew to a close Charles Farrell, Ronald Colman, and William Haines were probably the top 3 Male Stars in Hollywood. Again, this is slightly subjective. As to who was number one? I gotta give the edge to Farrell based on his being in the largest number of high profile films that grossed the most money at the time. Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen may have been in there too. Not sure though. Most of there pictures are not around. If you look at the polls though even at this point Tom Mix still easily out-rated all of these guys. I guess they discount him because he was a Cowboy Star. Not fair, but that's the way it seems to be.

 

 

As for the ladies, if you go by the magazine survey's and also who was receiving the most fan mail in 1928. Clara Bow, was on Top, with Colleen Moore a distant but soild second, and Billie Dove a distant third. These three were far and away the biggest female Stars around. After them a bunch of other names in the mix. I don't care what you read now, Greta Garbo was never as big at this time as revisionst history paints her these days. Dolores Del Rio and Janet Gaynor both easily outrated her. So did Norma Shearer.

 

 

And this is just Hollywood Stars. We haven't ventured into Europe.

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I've said this before and people thought I was nuts, but Colleen Moore literally was the 1920's equivalent of Audrey Hepburn. Like Hepburn she was very thin, yet statuesque. Like Hepburn she was beautiful, but in a somewhat unconventional sense. Neither needed much make up to look good. Like Audrey, Colleen was extremely versatile and could excel in virtually any type of roll on screen. Just a great actress,and a gifted comedienne. An extremely engaging personalty who you can't help but love. She oozed so much charisma that you are literally left helpless to resist her.

 

In the context of her own time, she was also the Female Harold Lloyd. In deference to Mabel Normand being acknowledged as the Female Chaplin. And Normand's clear successor. Those claims alone which I feel are justified and can be established, ought to be enough to entice much renewed interest in her long overdue rediscovery.

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Hi, I added allot to my original post. So you might want to go back and read it again.

 

Some other names that I failed to mention most of these in the B list or Second-tier category are Bessie Love, Cullen Landis, Nita Naldi, May McAvoy, Virginia Valli, (Who became Mrs. Charles Farrell), Doris Kenyon (who was married to Milton Sills), Adolphe Menjou, Pauline Starke, Priscilla Dean, Bert Lytell, Mary Philbin, Lois Wilson, Lloyd Hughes, Lewis Stone, Alice Terry, Leatrice joy, Norma Kerry, Jetta Goudal, Madge Bellamy, Estelle Taylor, John Bowers, Margaret De La Motte, Elaine Hammerstine, Eleanor Boardman, Jobyna Ralston, Olive Borden, Greta Nissen, Percy Marmont, Dorothy Mackaill, Clive Brook, Conway Tearle, Edmund Lowe, Victor Varconi, Clyde Cook, Carmell Myers, and Frank Mayo. These are just random names, and I'm not attempting to list them in any sort of order here. Of course Jobyna was very popular, not just as Harold Lloyd's leading lady.

 

Harold Lockwood was a really big Star in the Teen's but died in the great Influenza epidemic of 1918. Robert Haron of course also a major Star who died in 1919 I think? Goudal was close to being an A-list Star for awhile. Evelyn Brent was a popular B-Star until the last years of the Silent Era. When she briefly hit the A-List. Not sure that Lew Cody was ever an A-List Star, but he had a good following of fans and was a well known performer.

 

 

My beloved Renee Adoree was not really a major name prior to THE BIG PARADE. Even though she had already been in the movies for 5 or 6 years. Enjoying some success, but she hadn't been a top-tier Star. After TBP, Renee had a soild run of hits, among some misses. Stayed an A-List Star till the end of the decade. Though still was stuck in a number of supporting rolls by MGM at the same time.

 

 

Just how big of a Star was Mary Astor in the 20's? Well, she generally received top or second billing, so she was no small Potatoes based on that. She was also well respected as an Actress, as well as for her great beauty.

 

 

Dolores Costello exploded on the seen in 1926 with MANNEQUIN and with future Hubby John Barrymore in THE SEA BEAST and almost overnight became the Talk of Hollywood.

 

 

Esther Ralston was clearly a popular leading lady, one of the most beautiful Women in Hollywood, and finally became a major Star in the late 20's.I have a real soft spot for her and Betty Bronson, Also Mary Brian. Of course all of those Girls along with Anna May Wong were in Herbert Brenon's PETER PAN (1924) together.

 

 

Pearl White was the undisputed queen of the Silent Serials during the Teen's, and Ruth Roland was the Serial Queen during the 20's. I've never seen any footage of Roland as far as I recall.Ernest Torrence or Tully Marshall, maybe Geroge Fawcett and Alec Francis are everyone's favorite charater actors.

 

 

Comedian's Larry Semon and Lloyd Hamilton. These two guys arguebly out-rate Harry Langdon. Raymond Griffith seems to have been another Flash in the Pan with a good three year run similar to Langdon. Although I personally like Griffith allot.Then there was Ben Turpin, and Max Davidson.

 

 

Talking about the biggest Stars at the end of the Era, I neglected to bring up William Boyd. He was iin the top 10 Stars in Hollywood as far as weekly Fan mail goes in Mid 1928.

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