Theda Bara, Cleopatra, 1917
Renée Adorée was born into a family of circus performers in Lille, France in 1898. She eventually became involved in theater, ending up in New York City where she began work in motion pictures. With her role as Melisande opposite John Gilbert in The Big Parade (1925), she shot to stardom, and had roles throughout the silent era with stars like Lon Chaney, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies and Ramon Novarro. It was while filming the talkie Call of the Flesh with Novarro in 1930 that she became so ill with tuberculosis she was forced to retire to a sanitarium for two years. After a brief attempt at resuming her career, she grew more ill and finally died from tuberculosis in 1933.
I’m especially partial to Renée - her presence always uplifts the films in which she appears. Happy birthday, Renée Adorée.
Poster and publicity photo of Gloria Swanson in Madame Sans-Gêne, 1924
This film is now considered lost, and Swanson wanted very much to see it again before she died. Toward the end of her autobiography, published in 1980, she said in regard to her lost films:
“I would love to see them again and know they’re not lost forever. That, after all, was supposed to be the great virtue of pictures - that they would last forever. Alas, thousands upon thousands of early films, in the years when they were not being shown because they were not considered fashionable, or old enough to be museum pieces, crumbled in their cans. The celluloid disintegrated with age.”
One of Swanson’s lost films, Beyond the Rocks, was located in 2003. Sadly, she did not live to see it again, as she died in 1983.
A double image of Gloria Swanson
(resulting from photographing magazine images against the light)
Dorothy Sebastian, Joan Crawford and Anita Page
“Our Dancing Daughters”, 1928
The Great Gatsby (1926) trailer | The only known surviving footage of the film starring Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson, Neil Hamilton, Georgia Hale, and William Powell.
I would so love to see this (even if the Fitzgeralds didn’t think too much of it) - it’s on the long list of silents I wish could be rediscovered. Love Daisy’s outfit in the Plaza scene, and Jordan looks just right in the tiny glimpse we see of her (I love that she’s the last to rise to her feet, and does so with more control than anyone). And who wouldn’t want to see the 1920s version of a Gatsby Party? Lots of girls in it running around in swimsuits, it seems.