Friday, June 11, 2010

Miss Madge Bellamy

Ah...another one with magnetic eyes that just pull you in. I had a chance to see Madge Bellamy in Lorna Doone and it was a beautiful adaptation. With her big, beautiful, brown eyes and the Mary Pickford like curls it made you feel like you were back in time watching the story unfold for real and not watching a movie.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, she seemed like the wide eyed, cutesy flapper girl. And of course, like most of our favorite silent film stars, she didn't turn into a talkies film star. We remember her though and that is something. Cuz we know and love her! (I do at least) Even if she was rumored to have been somewhat of a bitch...

Madge Bellamy was born Margaret Derden Philpotts in June 30, 1899 in Hillsboro, Texas. Her parents were Annie and William, who was a professor. During her childhood her family moved around Texas and then ended up in Colorado. It was here where she began acting in plays and really wanting to embrace a career as an actress.

When she was 17, she ran away from home and went all the way to New York City. She appeared in productions on Broadway as both a dancer and as an actress.

She signed a contract with the Triangle film company Company and made her first screen appearance in 1921. She then went to Famous Players and then to Fox.

Although Madge made the transition to sound smoothly, her career did not keep the momentum she was accustomed to during her silent days. Her attitude seemed to be the problem, not her talent. A dispute with Fox pictures caused a hault in her career that last for about 3 years and only resumed with appearances in B movies.

The film people seem to recognize her for the most isn't a silent film, but a horror flick with Bela Lugosi called White Zombie made in 1932.

She made her last appearance in film in 1945.

Madge Bellamy passed away on January 24, 1990 of heart failure. For some reason, I can't seem to find any information on where she is buried, or even if she was cremated. Bummer.

In 1943, Madge...well, apparently lost her damn mind. She was charged with shooting her then lover, Stanwood Murphy. The case (like many back then and even today) is muddled by different facts from different parties. For instance, Madge claimed that she only meant to scare him, maybe just graze him a little. She said that if she had meant to kill him, she would have, because she was an great shot. God love her! Some of her movie industry friends believed that she definitely shot him and meant to do it. Apparently her reputation for being difficult was working against her at the worst possible moment. She had to ruin her reputation even further by admitting that she was having an affair with Murphy. Her attorney played her up as the wronged woman, and the case was eventually dropped. The bad news was that she was a ruined woman in the public's eye.

Because of the scandal, she couldn't find work in Hollywood. She tried to write and publish books, but to no success. She lived in poverty until later in her life when she got into real estate and could really support herself. Unfortunately, her autobiography, A Darling of the Twenties, wasn't published until after she died.

She only married once, to a stockbroker named Logan Metcalf. They married in 1928, and filed for divorce three days later!

"I've avoided all my life the romantic stuff which novels and movies are about. Never went in for that mush." ~ Madge Bellamy

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Miss Anita Page

Oh Miss Anita Page! She was such a cutie. And she was so recognizable, even in older pictures. Colleen Moore and Louise Brooks had the hairstyles...Anita had the eyebrows. I don't know why, but that is the one thing that really stands out about her for me. They were just unique!

Anyways, God bless her for staying around so long. She was one of the last silent film stars still living until her death recently. Actually, I don't think any are left, with an exception for maybe some of the child actors. She was a fun blonde flapper who starred along some big names in her time and was a lovely lady.

Anita Page was born Anita Evelyn Pomares on August 4, 1910 in Flushing, Queens, New York. Her mother Helen was a secretary and her father John was a chauffeur. She had one brother, Marino.

Her introduction into films was kinda like that of Lillian and Dorothy Gish...through a friend who had already made it in the business. In Anita's case, it was through her friend Betty Bronson. An agent spotted her picture in Betty's room and was intrigued by the beautiful girl. With her mom's urging, Anita called up the agent.

She was offered a contract from both Paramount and MGM. Anita chose MGM. Her second film was alongside Dorothy Sebastian and Joan Crawford in Our Dancing Daughters in 1928. She was a lucky one, because she became quite famous rather quickly. A year later she had a starring role alongside Bessie Love in the film The Broadway Melody, which was a huge success at the time. It was also her first talkie, a smooth transition for her.

During the 1930s she was a busy lady! She appeared with Buster Keaton, Clark Gable, Lon Chaney on screen...lucky girl! She also at one point was receiving more mail than any other actress at the time.

Her contract with MGM expired in 1933, and at age 23, Anita shocked everyone by announcing her retirement from film.

She made a few films years and years later but they weren't anything stellar. The one thing she did enjoy was being known as one of the last silent film stars. She loved answering fan mail and talking about her career with various reporters, biographers, and fans.

Anita Page passed away on September 6, 2008 of natural causes. She was 98 years old.

She was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego, California.

She was married twice. First was to composer Nacio Herb Brown in 1934, but it was annulled a year later because Brown's previous divorce had yet to be finalized. Her second marriage was to Hershel House, a Lieutenant in the Navy in 1937. They stayed married until his death in 1991. The couple had two daughters, Linda and Sandra. Her daughter Sandra actually passed away before her she did.

Benito Mussolini used to write to Anita constantly and asked her to marry him numerous times.

Her best friend was Marion Davies. The two lived together for a time after Anita's marriage to Brown ended.

Dorothy Sebastian, Joan Crawford, and Anita

She claimed years later that one of the reasons that she left the film industry was because of repeated sexual advances of Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer. Here's the thing...Mayer, I might believe because I think I have heard a few snippets of this kind of rumor before. I know he had a huge crush on Greer Garson for one. But, Thalberg...I don't think so. He had Norma Shearer as a wife and she was enough for him to handle. And with his weak heart, I don't think he was the kind of guy who leeched onto starlets.

Even as she got older, she would still wear the dresses she wore in the 1920s. How cute is that?!

She said that her favorite costar was Ramon Novarro, because he was so nice to her. I can believe it, he seemed like he was a real sweetheart. Good looking and nice?! Of course he was gay! *sigh*

She had a brief relationship with Clark Gable after they appeared together in a film. But didn't everyone? I would have! (If it weren't for Buster of course...)

Anita almost had a relationship with none other than Harry Thaw, famous murderer of Stanford White in the Nesbit/Thaw/White love triangle. She didn't know anything about his past, but thank goodness her mother did and forbade her daughter from associating with him. Thank you Mrs. Pomares!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Miss Renee Adoree

You know, for the past two years when I visited California, I visited Renee Adoree at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I kinda knew who she was a year ago. I mean, I knew she was a silent film star who was in the film The Big Parade with John Gilbert, and I also knew that she died fairly young. It's sad because from what I have seen, it is pretty apparent that she would have gone on to lead a pretty substantial career.

Also...and maybe it's just me, but Renee reminds me a bit of Pola Negri. They both had really big faces! I don't know if that is mean to say, but it's true. She also bears resemblance to Marie Prevost in some pictures.

Renee Adoree was born Jeanne de La Fonte on September 30, 1898 in Lille, Nord, France.

When she was 5 years old, she began performing in the circus alongside her parents (which is pretty cool). As she grew older, she began to also appear on stage and toured with various theater troupes throughout Europe.

She eventually made her way to the States and moved to New York City to continue working on the stage. Then one day, she grabbed hold of a chance to start working in the motion picture business. The studio decided to change her name to the more exotic sounding Renee Adoree (pronounced Ren-ee Add-o-ray). She appeared in her first film in 1920.

Renee and John Gilbert

In 1925, she appeared in the film that was to be her most famous and also one of MGM's biggest hits, The Big Parade. The film thankfully is available to view, but I know a lot of us are waiting for it to be released on DVD.

In 1928, she appeared in the Howard Hughes film The Mating Call. She had a scene where she was seen skinny dipping and this caused a big to-do at the time.

Even though Renee did have a French accent, she made the transition to sound without a hitch. She had the chance to appear in talkies with some of the times greatest leading men, including Ramon Novarro, John Gilbert (her co-star from The Big Parade), and Lon Chaney.

Just as her career was growing with the talkies, she was stricken with tuberculosis. She went against doctor's advice of taking it easy. Instead, she continued to make pictures until she was too sick to continue and she was admitted to a sanitarium. There, she had to remain flat on her back for 2 years in order to help her condition and eventually was deemed healthy enough to be released in 1933. Unfortunately, she just got worse as the days passed.

Renee Adoree passed away on October 5, 1933 in Tujunga, California. She had just turned 35.

She is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. For anyone who is wanting to go visit her grave, she is quite easy to find. As soon as you walk into the Abbey of the Psalms, she is directly in front of you...a little to the left. She is usually the first one I visit, and I always love that when I do, she has flowers on her grave. She hasn't been forgotten :)

Renee was married twice. First to one of the famous Moore brothers, Tom Moore, in 1921. They divorced three years later. Her second marriage was to William Sherman Gill in 1927, but they divorced in 1929.

During her teen years she also appeared in the French version of the Ziegfeld Follies, the Folies-Bergeres.