Friday, March 2, 2012

Miss Naomi Childers

Another venture into the world of the lesser known silent film stars. AKA my favorites. I am still kind of in a fog since the bad news on Wednesday, but I am slowly becoming less and less like a zombie. I have some lovely Monkees fans friends who are great, so that always helps. And talking/blogging about my other passion helps as well.

Naomi had one of those pictures that when I first looked at it, I thought, "Wow!" She looked so perfect and beautiful and goddess-like. The silent film stars always seem a little mythical to me anyway, but she really looked like a Greek statue. I am not the only who thinks so either, because she was nicknamed, "The Girl with the Grecian Face." Great minds think alike, eh?

Naomi Weston Childers was born on November 15, 1892 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. According to a 1900 Census record, she is listed as "Narma" or "Nanna" Childers. Not sure if this is just misspelling, bad handwriting, her real name, or a deaf Census worker.  She was the only child, and adopted daughter of John, a clerk for a railroad company, and Nora Childers. In the 1910 Census, Naomi is listed as their niece, so I am not completely sure what the relationship exacts were. What I do know is that Naomi was quite proud of her British roots.

She was educated in a convent, and became interested in acting when she was still a child. She was also a pianist.

In 1913, she made her film debut in a short called "Panic Days in Wall Street." 

Her early film years were mostly spent with the Vitagraph studios. And her most famous role there was a portrayal of Joan of Arc.

Naomi was doing pretty well in pictures, but the problem was she liked doing comedies, and she was good at the them! The studios however wanted her in more serious, dramatic roles. Kinda sounds like Marion Davies's situation, doesn't it?

As the 1910s and 20s came to an end, so did silent pictures. Naomi wasn't able to find much work in the talkies, and eventually fell on hard times. She was saved by none other than MGM head, Louis B. Mayer, who signed her to a lifetime contract. She played bit roles well into the 1950s. Kinda surprising to see Mayer be so generous.

Naomi Childers passed away on May 9, 1964 in Hollywood.

She was buried at the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery.

Naomi was married...well, I think twice? Maybe once? I read that she was engaged to the head of a candy company (yummy!) named Harold Darling Shattuck, but that she postponed the wedding. Not sure if it actually went through. I do know that she did eventually marry again, but I don't know when. Her second husband was Luther Reed, who worked behind in the scenes in the film industry. She divorced him in 1929 citing desertion. She had one son...and I am not sure who the father was or his name. Sorry!

She was voted the most beautiful woman in Japan and was often compared to Sarah Bernhardt (I GUESS I can see that. Sarah to me has always had this weird intense look about her). 

I read that she was a member of the Ziegfeld Follies...but I don't think she ever was. She did appear in the movie though, as a dancer.

I found her in a 1920 Census Record, where is listed as living in Los Angeles. Some of her neighbors are listed as being actors or actresses, but I have never heard of them. See if you know them: Virginia Brown (first thought that came to mind was Virginia Brown Faire...maybe), Robert/Eva/Ella/Ida McKenzie, Wilbur Higby, Rita Huston, Frank Elliott, and Carl and Ethel Gerard. Anyone...? Anyone?

Who I did recognize was Anna Q. Nilsson and Lew Cody!

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