Thursday, July 28, 2011

Loving the past, living the now

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks

My friend and I were talking the other day, and I told her how foolish I felt for loving things/people/movies/whatever from the past so much. I mean, why can't I be like a "normal" girl who loves stuff from this time period? It seems like it would be so much easier. But, then I think, I don't want to be that "normal" person because then I wouldn't be me. I love the glamour and the beauty and emotions in silent film. And I love the history behind them, love how old they are.

I love Buster Keaton. Duh. But, sadly, I was born at least 20 years after he died. Not after he was born, but died. Yeah, wayyyyy before my time. But, he still had an impact on my life. When I visited his grave the last time in May, sat there and talked to him (like I had done before) and told him how much he inspired me. Inspired me how? I mean, I don't want to be a slapstick comedian who never smiles. But, he inspires me not to give up on what I love. I want to be a star, and I want him to look down at me and be proud. I wanna make him proud by being a wonderful actress and be able to join the ranks of my favorite stars of the past. I think he would be proud that I am not gonna let anything stand in front of my dreams and just keep on going forward. I don't talk about my dreams with, well, anyone really but it does feel good to write about it and get it out of my head. And this is why blogging about silent films helps because I don't have anyone in my life that I can gush about them too and have a conversation about them with. I can let people know I love them by them asking about the silent film title card tattoo on my arm though :) But, I must say, thanks again guys for reading my blog. Means a lot.

And here is some more insight that I told my friend Val I would write about. We were having discussions about perfect guys and again I brought up how I felt stupid for loving Peter Tork and The Monkees and how I would get mad at myself for getting upset for not being around during the 1960s when they were younger. I grew up loving them, but it was 20 or 30 years after their heyday. I see them now and love them still, but it doesn't feel the same because they look so much different than they do when I would watch them on tv. But, then I had a thought about the situation while driving in the car. And I am sure this may sound stupid and that's fine, because I don't really give a shit anymore. But, even if I never had the chance to meet the guys when they were younger, I can live my life fully like they did and like I saw them do. Peter inspires me to do whatever it is I want to do and be proud of who I am. I am very smart, I love singing, I love acting, I love thinking like a flapper from the 1920s or a flower child hippie from the 1960s and just loving who I am. I am unique and that is pretty damn groovy. I hope I get a chance to tell him that one day if I can get the words out because when I have met him, I was in shock.

Dorothy Janis and Ramon Novarro

So, there you have it. Thanks again for reading. Love everyone who reads and comments on my page. :) You really make my day.

Miss Evelyn Brent

It has always puzzled me how certain movie stars who I think are just drop dead gorgeous, never really reached the stardom that I think they deserved. Or more recognition rather. But, who I am to say? Just a lil blogger. Carole Landis. Olive Borden. My beloved Sharon Tate. These women were just perfection and they aren't really remembered today (except of course for Sharon who is more remembered for her murder). And, of course, case in point...Evelyn Brent. She has that smoldering look in her eye, and just the face of perfection. But, aside from us silent movie loving fans, she is all but forgotten. She was a beautiful, hard working lady who should be admired by all actors and actresses who follow after her.

Evelyn Brent was born Mary Elizabeth Riggs on October 20, 1899 in Tampa, Florida. She was known as Betty for most of her life, which is kinda hard to picture because we know her as sexy Evelyn Brent...not "Betty." But, there ya have it.

Her mother died when she was a child, so she was left in the care of her father up until she became a teenager. When she was old enough, she moved to New York City and found work as a model and eventually making her way into the movies. It's always the same ole story isn't it?

When she began working as an extra in movies, she was only making $3.00 a day! But, she enjoyed it, and kept at it, making films for a studio in New Jersey. She final made her big debut in 1915. It was after this film that she began going by her stage name of Evelyn Brent.

In 1922, she moved to Hollywood and the next year got nominated for a big honor at the time...WAMPAS Baby Star! She was in good company with Eleanor Boardman, Jobyna Ralston, and Kathleen Key (one of Buster's ladies who trashed his dressing room after he dumped her).  It was after she became a Baby Star that she was signed by Douglas Fairbanks. Unfortunately, no good roles came up, so she left and joined another studio.

She ended up making quite a few films before she made her first talkie in 1928, starring alongside William Powell. The film didn't do very well, but Evelyn was a strong willed woman because it did not slow her down. She kept on making films! She just kept working, whether or not it was in small, secondary roles or on the vaudeville stage. Eventually she ended up making poverty row pictures.

She finally retired from acting in films in 1950, but stayed in the business working as an agent for up and coming actors. She came out of her retirement in the 1960s to appear in an episode of Wagon Train.

Evelyn Brent passed away on June 4, 1975 of a heart attack in Los Angeles.

She was cremated and interred at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

Evelyn was married three times. Her first husband was Bernard Fineman in 1922. They divorced in 1927. Her second husband was producer Harry Edwards. They were married from 1928 until 1948. Her last husband was actor Harry Fox, who she stayed married to until he died in 1959. She never had children.

Was Evelyn gay? Was she bi? Who knows? She never came out (pun intended) and confirmed anything but she was a frequent visitor of the Hollywood lesbian scene. It wasn't the most ideal time to come out as gay, so hey, if she was...she was! And she was in great company with other supposed lesbians Garbo, Nazimova...

She also supposedly had a fling with Gary Cooper. Who can blame her?

Her most memorable role was as Feathers McCoy in the 1927 gangster film, Underworld alongside Clive Brook and Larry Semon. Apparently the film was thought to be a flop, and was shelved for a few years before being released. It did way better than expected and actually won an Academy Award.

Interesting note, one of Evelyn's hobbies was creating hand carved furniture.