silent film star

American silent film actress Jetta Goudal, 1910s.

Jetta Goudal (1891-1985) was a Dutch-born American actress, successful in Hollywood films of the silent film era.

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Clara Bow, the “It” girl. 1927

(Clara with William Austin, Clara with Antonio Moreno, Clara with Elinor Glyn, and Clara on her own).

~ photos from Modern Screen, Screenland and (top)J.Willis Sayre Collection

Italian silent film star and diva Pina Menichelli, 1910s.

Giuseppa Iolanda Menichelli (1890-1984), known as Pina Menichelli, was an Italian actress and silent film star. After a career in theatre and a series of small film roles, Menichelli was launched as a film star when Giovanni Pastrone gave her the lead role in The Fire (1916). Over the next nine years, Menichelli made a series of films, often trading on her image as a diva and on her passionate, decadent eroticism. Menichelli became a global star, and one of the most appreciated actresses in Italian cinema, before her retirement in 1924, aged 34.

The Artist is a French romantic comedy-drama in the style of a black-and-white silent film starring Jean Dujardin as George Valentin, and Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller.

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius. Costume design by Mark Bridges.

A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions.

“A woman in the wardrobe department asked rather casually as if to make conversation, whether I could dance and I told her I could and loved to. She explained that James Ryan, a casting director, was looking for a certain type of girl and had made screen tests of more than 100, without finding  the one he wanted. She suggested that I call on Ryan, which I did, and he told me to see Lambert Hillyer, the director, and tell him I had been sent.

“Hillyer looked at me and asked if I thought I could play the lead in a picture. I told him sure, I could. He gave me a screen test and had a man make me up – the first experience of the kind I ever had. The test was to be made at 1 p.m. and word passed around the studio that a girl who had never even seen a motion picture camera was to be tried out for a leading part. As a result, a great crowd gathered to see me make a fool of myself.

“I wasn’t afraid. Scores of people watched me as I attempted to register love, hate, fear and a lot of other things. At 2 p.m. Mr. Hillyer informed me I could have the role!

“I would have played the part for nothing, but they paid me $75 a week.”Dorothy Janis, discussing how she went from an extra and bit player to her first starring role in Fleetwing (1928).

Source: Harry T. Brundidge (1929)

Photo: Ruth Harriet Louise (1929)