Monday, September 5, 2011

Miss Lina Basquette

Lina Basquette is one of those stars that is just too adorable to not be mentioned when talking about silent film actresses. She was an actress starting as a child until she was an adult and was also a dancer. She, like Clara Bow and Alice White is one of those girls that you look at and see the embodiment of the 1920s flapper.

Lina Basquette was born Lena Copeland Baskette on April 19, 1907 in San Mateo, California. Her father Frank died when she was still a child, and her mother Gladys married a dance director named Ernest Belcher. It was during her childhood that she and her half sister Marge got into the dancing and acting business.

When she was nine years old, she was signed to Universal Studios and made a series of films called the Lena Baskette Featurettes (they really went crazy with the title, eh?).

In 1923, she joined the Ziegfeld Follies and was dubbed by them as "America's Prima Ballerina." And five years later, she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star alongside Sue Carol, Ruth Taylor, and Lupe Velez. This of course led to more film roles, including a role in a Frank Capra film in 1929.

Her most famous film appearance was in 1929's Godless Girl. A movie I would love to get a hold of! She was mostly known for this appearance, hence why she named her autobiography: DeMille's Godless Girl.

She appeared in more movies throughout the 1930s and 40s but nothing that helped to bring her to stardom. Her last screen appearance was in 1991 in the film Paradise Park.

Lina Basquette passed away on September 30, 1994 from cancer at her home in Wheeling, West Virginia. She was cremated.

Now this could be another entry in itself, the many marriages of Lena Basquette. I have seen some places that she was only married twice, others say seven, but it seems the agreed number is nine! Her first husband was one of the Warner Brothers, Sam, in 1925. She was only 18, he was in his late thirties. The couple was only married for two years when Sam died of a cerebral hemorrhage. They had a daughter named Lita who was born in 1926.

Her second marriage was to cinematographer J. Peverell Marley (who later married actress Linda Darnell) in 1929. They were only married for about a year. Third was actor Ray Hallam in 1931, but he also left her a widow when he died later that year. I don't know how he died or even what kind of actor he was. I am thinking he was a stage actor because he isn't listed on imdb.

Her next two marriages were to the same person. She had to re-marry Theodore Hayes after their first marriage was annulled due to his divorce from his first wife not being complete. Their marriage only lasted another year after the second marriage. They had a son together named Edwin. Her next husband was another actor named Henry Mollison and I have read that they were also married twice, but I don't know the circumstances of this.

Lina's last two marriages to Warner Gilmore and Frank Mancuso also ended in divorce.

She also had affairs with Nelson Eddy, opera singer Lawrence Tibbett, and fighter Jack Dempsey. Her fourth/fifth husband, Theodore Hayes was Dempsey's trainer. Lina and Dempsey actually had their affair after Lina found out that Theodore was still considered married.

In 1930, Lina attempted suicide. She was feeling stressed and depressed following the death of her first husband, Sam Warner, and the legal troubles that followed. When it seemed that Lina was not being the best parent to her daughter, Sam Warner's older brother, Harry filed for custody of Lita. And since Lina was not financially or emotionally capable of caring for her, Harry won. It would be almost 30 years before mother and daughter saw each other again. And after that, they only saw each other one more time. Lita eventually married a doctor in the late 1940s and I am not sure if she is still alive or has passed away. Same goes for her son, Edwin.

Another low point for Lina was in 1943 when she was raped by an AWOL soldier who had trespassed on her property. There was another big trial that Lina had to endure but she got justice this time. The a-hole who raped her got 20 years in prison. I am not sure what the Army soldier's name was, I can't seem to find it anywhere.

Lita found an outlet later in life in breeding Great Danes and also becoming a rather famous dog show judge.

She was Adolph Hitler's favorite actress, and was even invited to come to Germany and make movies for the Third Reich. Lina declined the offer.

She was good friends with Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, and Clara Bow and was frequently seen out and about partying with them. Now that is a party that I would want to be a part of! A night out on the town with four fabulous flappers! Oh man oh man, too much fun.


  1. I love LINA BASQUETTE....I was named after her (....YES, my real name is LINA also).

    Anyhow, txs for creating this BLOG.
    I love the Stars of the Silent Movie age.


  2. How cool to be named after a silent star! And thank you so much for stopping by :)


  4. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading. It means the world to me. Enjoy Lina's biography!

  5. Dearest:

    Hey Up! Long live Judo. She was in love with disciplined men!

    Santa Monica, CA

  6. Great find for me as I am Lina';s son Eddie Hayes. Good Job. You are pretty much on the money.
    Lina would have approved

    1. Eddie, you have made my day/week/month/year just by coming by here. Thank you so much and I'm glad you (and Lina) approve.