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.


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)