Monday, June 20, 2011

Miss Barbara Kent

Let's start with the fact that this woman is still alive. Seriously. Barbara Kent is the last surviving star of the silent era. How cool is that? The sad/kinda understandable part is that she does not talk about her film past and doesn't grant interviews. It is sad because she has so much history in her to speak about, but the woman is 104, so we can grant her some peace.

Thinking of Barbara makes me sad that I never had a chance to meet Doris Eaton. She lives in Michigan, where I live, and she only just died a year ago. I didn't even realize that I could have gone to her funeral until I went to the cemetery to visit her and the woman working in the office told me about the beautiful memorial service. Grrr! Oh well. I tell you what, when I get to heaven, I will be talking to every one of my idols....if I can pull myself off Buster that is.

Barbara Kent was born Barbara Cloutman on December 16, 1906 in Gadsby, Alberta, Canada. Her parents were Jullion and Lily Cloutman.

She won a Miss Hollywood contest when she was 21, and made her film debut that same year (1925) in a small role. She got her first billing in 1926's The Flesh and the Devil.

Because of her small height (she was shorter than 5 feet), she was mainly cast in light comedy roles, but could hold her own against screen dynamos like Greta Garbo.

She stirred some scandal when she appeared in the 1927 film No Man's Law because it contained a "nude" scene. In fact, Barbara was wearing a flesh colored bathing suit to simulate nudity. But even the simulation that she was naked caused quite a stir. It worked out in her favor though because later that year she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star.

Unlike some of her screen co-stars, Barbara made a smooth transition to the talkies, appearing with another silent film veteran, Harold Lloyd.

She made her last film in 1935. She had previously taken a break from working and it caused the public to pretty much forget about her and move on to new talking stars. She tried to jump start her career again, but it sadly did not work out.

Barbara has only been married once, to agent and producer Harry Edington in 1932. The marriage lasted until his death in 1949. It was after his death that she faded completely from the public eye and chose to live a quiet life in Idaho (I thought I heard a rumor that she married again, but I don't have any information on that).

Barbara and Gloria Swanson

Her fellow 1927 WAMPAS Baby Stars included Helene Costello, Ada Mae Vaughn, Sally Rand, Martha Sleeper, Natalie Kingston, and Gladys McConnell.

We all still love you Barbara. You are a beautiful lil lady and I hope you are enjoying your 104 years. Quite the accomplishment! You will live forever in the hearts and minds of the silent movie lovers out there.


  1. Wowzers...except for a very few baby stars she is the last one! What a shame she won't talk about her would be so cool to hear some tales from the set of "Flesh and The Devil":) Another great Canuck too:))

  2. I agree. I am sure there is some reason behind it, besides her being 104. But, what a piece of history she is!

  3. Barbara Kent did marry again, some years after her first husband, Harry Edington, died. Her second (and last) husband was Jack Monroe, who was a few years younger than her, and he died in 1998. They had homes in Sequim, Washington; Sun Valley, Idaho; and Palm Desert, California.
    There is word now that she died in early October, but no death notice or obit has been found yet.

  4. I'm glad that I read this lovely tribute to her about a month ago, when she was still with us. I mourn her passing and the void that it leaves saddens me. It's even more incumbent upon us to share our love of these films with others. Thank you for your wonderful site, and what you wrote about Ms. Kent.

  5. Thank you for info Bill! It just seemed when she disappeared from the screen, she disappeared in general...which is what she kinda wanted.

    Thank you for stopping by Jon! It is sad to think that one of the lasts has passed away. She, and others along with her will live on forever in the beautiful silver screen.

  6. In 1954 Barbara married Jack Monroe, who left her a widow for the second time in 1998. Sadly, she died on October 13, 2011, the cause of death not being specified but due to her age, possibly natural causes. Goodbye to another great star of classic Hollywood.

  7. Well said Alberto. And thank you for the extra info! :)

  8. Hi Jessica ,

    Here is article about her death: