Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dorothy Mackaill

Dorothy Mackaill is an interesting one to me because she seems to fly under the radar of the big stars of the silent screen. However, looking at her pictures, she seems to be on a totally different level with her beauty. She had a classic look to her with just a touch of modern and that makes for a perfect look for a flapper!

I also have so many options on who to cover next. Is there anyone I haven't covered that you would like to know more about? Let me know in the comments below!

Dorothy Mackaill was born March 4, 1903 in Hull, Yorkshire, England. She was the only child born to Florence Wise and her husband, Mr. Mackaill. I honestly couldn't find a first name for him anywhere. He is just referred to as Mr. Mackaill. 

When Dorothy was eleven her parents separated. Dorothy lived with her father, but it wasn't exactly an idyllic situation. Mr. Mackaill seemed to have a Mrs. Doubtfire fetish because he employed one housekeeper after the other. He eventually married the NINTH housekeeper he hired, which upset Dorothy so much that she ran away to London. Florence Wise Mackaill was a big fan of the theater and had instilled this love in her daughter, so Dorothy wanted to head to the big city to become an actress. 

Like most people who run away with show business aspirations, Dorothy didn't achieve the big time right away. Instead, she found small spots in various shows to help scratch her acting bug itch. Showgirl numbers and sporadic extra parts isn't enough to support oneself, so Dorothy contacted her father asking for financial help. Mr. Mackaill was not thrilled about his daughter entering show business and at first would not help her. Once he saw how determined she was to succeed as a performer, however, he relented and agreed to pay for her room and board as well as acting lessons. Thanks, dad!

While performing in a Paris show, Dorothy was spotted by Broadway choreographer, Ned Wayburn. Wayburn told her that he could get her a gig as a Ziegfeld Follies girl, but he just needed to run it by Flo Ziegfeld first.

Now, I am not sure if it was because she was from England or because she was so naive, but Dorothy had never heard of this Flo Ziegfeld whose show she was going to be in. Her mother's name was Florence, but she was nicknamed 'Flo,' so she just assumed that this Flo Ziegfeld was a woman. She got quite a surprise when it was a man with who she met with.

Dorothy was advertised by Ziegfeld as being the picture perfect example of the All-American girl. That's all fine and dandy until you remember that Dorothy was in fact born in England. Oh well! I don't think the public cared one bit! Bring on the girls!

In 1920, she made her film debut in The Face in the Window, starring C. Aubrey Smith. The work proceeding this film consisted of shorts and uncredited roles and it wasn't until 1922 that she made her full length film debut in Isle of Doubt. 

Dorothy's star power was apparent to those in Hollywood because she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1924 along with Clara Bow, Blanche Mehaffey, and Lucille Ricksen, to name a few. 

The mid-1920's seems to have been the start of Dorothy's rise to stardom. She was the leading actress in many films during this period including: Joanna (1925, with Jack Mulhall), Chickie (1925, with John Bowers and Hobart Bosworth), Subway Sadie (1926, with Jack Mulhall), and Just Another Blonde (1926, again, with Jack Mulhall and Louise Brooks).

In 1928, she was making a film called The Barker. The film was originally shot as a silent, but right around that time the whispers for talking pictures became louder and louder. So, the film was re-shot to include talking portions and it ended up being a great success. 

Dorothy continued to appear in starring film roles, but they were mostly B-films, save for an appearance in the 1932 Gable/Lombard film, No Man of Her Own. She also co-starred with a young actor named Humphrey Bogart in HIS first starring role in 1932's Love Affair

In 1937, she made her final screen appearance in Bulldog Drummond at Bay. After retiring from films, Dorothy spent most of her time caring for her invalid mother. She would later tell an interviewer that all of her professional achievements were done in order to win her mother's approval. Mother and daughter lived together until Florence died in 1956. I hope Dorothy felt her approval. 

She may have stayed off the movie screen, but she did appear on the television screen some 30 years after her final film. Her friend, actor Jack Lord, asked Dorothy to come out of retirement and appear on his hit t.v. show, Hawaii Five-O. Dorothy agreed to her friend's request and appeared in two episodes, one in 1976 and one in 1980. 

Dorothy passed away on August 12, 1990 in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

She was cremated and her ashes were spread off the coast of Waikiki. 

Dorothy was married three times. Her first husband was actor Lothar Mendes, who she met on the set of the 1926 film, Prince of Tempters. The couple married that same year and ended up divorcing just two years later. Her second marriage was to a singer named Neil Albert. They married in 1931, but would divorce three years later. Her final marriage was to an orchid grower named Harold Patterson, but it only lasted one year (1947-48). None of her marriages produced children.

While working as a Follies girl, she became friends with two of her fellow dancers, Marion Davies and Nita Naldi (who may have been appearing under her real name of Dooley). The three remained friends after the Follies and while they all had their time as stars of the silent screens. In fact, it was due to her friendship with Davies that Dorothy always had a high social standing in Hollywood, even when she was still working in small parts. She was a frequent guest at San Simeon, the giant estate owned by Davies's lover, William Randolph Hearst. 

"Dorothy is going right ahead and proving that all the extravagant things said about her screen presence and her acting ability are the truth...the whole truth...and nothing but the truth. She is, without any doubt, one of the most interesting personalities that has come to the screen in many a month." -- Motion Picture Magazine, May 1924

"Dorothy Mackaill, after only a few leading roles is already a firmly established favorite." -- Picture-Play Magazine, May 1924

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Betty Compson

Well, another one of those instances when I think I covered someone and I find out that I have not. Case in point: Betty Compson. I have always loved Betty, she had the face and the attitude of a true flapper. So, I am gonna give her the recognition she deserves on here...for real this time! 

Betty Compson was born Eleanor Luicime Compson on March 19, 1897 in Beaver, Utah. She was the only child born to Virgil Compson, a miner, and his wife, Mary Rauscher. 

When Betty was only a few months old, Virgil Compson left his family to seek his fortune during the gold rush happening in the Klondike. He eventually returned to his family a much richer man. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1912 after a long illness.

Mary and Betty Compson

During the years of her father's absence, Betty helped supported herself and her mother by playing violin at the local vaudeville house. When she was asked to put together a solo act, she and her mother were a  bit nervous since they couldn't afford a lavish outfit for her solo debut. Mary Compson eventually came up with the idea that she would dress her daughter in rags and that would be her act. And so, this is how Betty became known as the 'Vagabond Violinist.' 

Soon after her solo debut Betty and her mother began traveling up and down the West coast performing in various vaudeville houses and theaters. To make extra money, mother and daughter also worked as domestics. 

In 1915, Betty was spotted on stage at the Pantages theater in Los Angeles by director, Al Christie. It was he who told the young starlet to begin using the name Betty Compson as her stage name. Later that year she made her film debut in the short, Wanted: A Leading Lady.

After three years with Christie, he fired her after she refused to make a personal appearance. Her career didn't end there, however. She continued to appear in a number of films, the best known being The Enemy Sex and White Shadows (both in 1924) and The Great Gabbo (1929) which was directed by and starred Erich von Stroheim. 

During the 1920s, Betty worked with an up and coming writer and director named Alfred Hitchcock. She appeared in his early films, Woman to Woman (1923), Dangerous Virtue (1924), and White Shadows (1924). Here's a fun fact! Alfred met his wife, Alma while making the film, Dangerous Virtue.

In 1929, Betty was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film The Docks of New York. Unfortunately, she lost the award to Mary Pickford. Tough competition. 

Like many silent film stars at the dawn of the talkies, meaty film roles weren't really flooding in. Her career continued with small pictures, but she did have an uncredited appearance in the 1940 Joan Crawford/Clark Gable feature, Strange Cargo. Betty also made a color screen test for the role of Belle Watling in the 1939 epic, Gone with the Wind, but the part went to Ona Munson. 

Her final film appearance was in 1948 in Here Comes Trouble. After retiring from the screen, Betty worked selling cosmetics and also as a salesgirl at a women's clothing boutique in Beverly Hills.

Betty Compson passed away on April 18, 1974 in Glendale, California. 

She was buried with her mother at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

Betty was married three times. Her first husband was actor/director, James Cruze who she married in 1925. They lived in a lavish home called Flintridge and often threw spectacular parties for their glitterati friends. However, the party atmosphere didn't last long due to Cruze's alcoholism. In fact, before he married Betty, he was married to another actress, Marguerite Snow who he once beat so hard he knocked her teeth out! Betty and Cruze separated numerous times before finally divorcing in 1930. 

Her second husband was agent/producer, Irving Weinberg. They were married from 1933 to  1937. Her third and final husband was a businessman named Silvius J. Gall. The couple were married from 1944 until his death in 1962. None of her marriages produced children. 

Betty was good friends with both Zasu Pitts and Alfred Hitchcock. And fellow silent film actress, Olive Borden once told a movie magazine that Betty was one of her favorite actresses!

"Betty Compson gives to the silver cloth a delicate poetry with which she endows her portrayals, whatever they may be. Perhaps it is the elusive quality which has placed her among the first in the ranks of the new stars." ~~ Motion Picture Magazine, June 1922

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fun Flappers

I did an entry like this years ago, but while doing research on Betty Compson I was reminded of how amazing the names of characters were during the silent film era. Most of the crazy names were given to flappers, because who doesn't love a story about a flapper named Snuggles or Bubbles?

I present to you another list of actual character names from silent films. Some are actually kinda cool (Lizzie Goodnite), some sound like strippers (Satan Syne) and some sound like characters from the board game, Candy Land (Princess Vanilla and Mademoiselle Snowflake).

Enjoy reading through and if you find any future baby names on the list please let me know!

(Disclaimer: Not all of the pictures move)


Tessibel Skinner
Unity Blake
Pearl Pepper
Jerusha Abbott
Swifty Forbes
Orchid Murphy

Gloria Swanson as Orchid Murphy in Fine Manners (1926)

Tamarind Brook
Panthea Romoff
Bonnie MacBelch
Kitty Laverne
Fox Trot
Snuggles Joy
Egypt Hagen

Billie Dove as Egypt Hagen in The Sensation Seekers (1927)

Teddy O'Day
Dorothy Dimples
Pussy Wimott
Babs Comet
Polka Dot
Truth Eldridge
Mugsy Mulane
Mae Day
Mizzi Stock

Marie Prevost as 'Mizzi Stock' in The Marriage Circle (1924)

Dallas O'Meara
Tulip Hellier
Cremo Panatella
Glory Quayle
Bee Chew
Australly Wiggs
Nita Nutti
Bubbles McCoy

Clara Bow as Bubbles McCoy in Red Hair (1928)
Connemara Moore
Giggles Dewberry
Idalene Nobbin
Mariam Finklebaum
Pearl Crumb
Orchid McGonigle
Kittens Westcourt
Mademoiselle Fashionsky
Dodo Baxter

Betty Compson as 'Dodo Baxter' in The Enemy Sex (1924)

Patsy Prim
Bumps Jackson
Dixie LaRose
Pepper Whipple
Bunny Stevens
Lillums Lovewell
Mrs. Younghubby
Maizie Nut
Angel Face

Norma Shearer in "A Lady of Chance" (1928)
Norma Shearer as Angel Face in A Lady of Chance (1928)

Miss Wiggle
Miss Flighty
Norah Collision
Pansy Buttermilk
Satan Syne
Remember Stedden
Arbutus Quilty
Pert Kelly

Colleen Moore as Pert Kelly in Why Be Good? (1929)
Miss Sniff
Hortense Troutt
Hula Kate
Toots Brooks
Birdie Puddleford
Weeping Wanda
Jewel Courage
Kitty Biddle

Olive Borden as Jewel Courage in The Joy Girl (1927)

Lillums Lovewell
Pansy Grundy
Fawn Deering
Miss Peanutty
Keyboard Annie
Faith Ebbing
Cutie Beautiful 
Mademoiselle Snowflake
Spangles DeLancy

Marian Nixon as Spangles DeLancy in Spangles (1926)

Lala De Breeze
Myone Madrigal
Tottie Coughdrop
Cherry O'Day
Apple Annie
Hepsabiah Hardlot
Miss Gingersnap
Rouletta Kirby
Feathers McCoy

Evelyn Brent as Feathers McCoy in Underworld (1927)
Dainty Dotty
Bambino Soupreeno
Happy O'Brien
Frisco Flora
Apple Pie Mary
Fifty-Fifty Mamie
Dolly Van Dream
Pert Barlow
Miss Goulash

Bebe Daniels in "Are Crooks Dishonest?", 1918
Bebe Daniels as Miss Goulash in Are Crooks Dishonest? (1918)

Katty Drexel
Twinkletoes Minasi
Alma Matter
Honey Skinner
Mrs. P. Knockle
Princess Vanilla
Bubbles Revere
Ritzy Brown

Betty Bronson as Ritzy Brown in Ritzy (1927)
Limber Lucy
Toodles Haig
Pandora Golden
Lady Babbie
Heela Hula
Kitty Crockett
Norma Nurmi

Carole Lombard applies makeup on the sporting track in "Run Girl Run", 1928
Carole Lombard as Norma Nurmi in Run, Girl, Run (1928)
Mrs. Henpecko
Kedzie Thropp
Tiny Playfair
Pep O'Mally
Mops Collins
Sweetie Higgins
Bessie Broke
Hula Calhoun

Clara Bow as Hula Calhoun in Hula (1927)
Trixie Tremaine
Talitha Millicuddy
Tommie Lou Pember
Princess Vanilla
Miss Goldollar
Lizzie Goodnite
Delight Haverford
Clementia Fairwood
Pink Watson

Colleen Moore in Orchids and Ermine (1927)
Colleen Moore as Pink Watson in Orchids and Ermine (1927)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April Birthdays!

New month means new stars! April is my favorite month of the year. Mainly because it's my birth month. And look at all these stars! I'm in good company!

Lon Chaney ~ April 1, 1883

Laurette Taylor ~ April 1, 1884

Wallace Beery ~ April 1, 1885

Sally Rand ~ April 3, 1904

Agnes Ayres ~ April 4, 1895

Carmel Myers ~ April 4, 1899

Charlotte Merriam ~ April 5, 1903

Marion Aye ~ April 5, 1905

Helen Lynch ~ April 6, 1900

Gina Manes ~ April 7, 1893

Lily Elsie ~ April 8, 1886

Mary Pickford ~ April 8, 1892

Grace Cunard ~ April 8, 1893

Marion Mack ~ April 8, 1902

Yola d'Avril ~ April 8, 1907

Joyce Coad ~ April 8, 1917

Alma Bennett ~ April 9, 1904

Harold Lockwood ~ April 12, 1887

Marguerite Clayton ~ April 12, 1891

Robert Harron ~ April 12, 1893

Ellaline Terris ~ April 13, 1872

Gladys Walton ~ April 13, 1903

Claire Windsor ~ April 14, 1892

Ann Forrest ~ April 14, 1895

Wallace Reid ~ April 15, 1891

Lita Grey ~ April 15, 1908

Spottiswoode Aitken ~ April 16, 1867

Charlie Chaplin ~ April 16, 1889

Fay Tincher ~ April 17, 1884

Art Acord ~ April 17, 1890

Marguerite Marsh ~ April 18, 1888

Dorothy Revier ~ April 18, 1904

Vondell Darr ~ April 18, 1919

May Robson ~ April 19, 1858

Madge Kennedy ~ April 19, 1891

Ora Carew ~ April 19, 1893

Constance Talmadge ~ April 19, 1898

George O'Brien ~ April 19, 1899

Lina Basquette ~ April 19, 1907

Harold Lloyd ~ April 20, 1893

True Boardman ~ April 21, 1880

Lillian Walker ~ April 21, 1887

Kitty Gordon ~ April 22, 1878

Belle Bennett ~ April 22, 1891

Grace La Rue ~ April 23, 1880

Marceline Day ~ April 24, 1908

Mary Miles Minter ~ April 25, 1902

Camilla Horn ~ April 25, 1903

William Desmond Taylor ~ April 26, 1872

Eric Campbell ~ April 26, 1879

Dorothy Sebastian ~ April 26, 1903

Dorothy Dwan ~ April 26, 1906

Florence La Badie ~ April 27, 1888

Mary Thurman ~ April 27, 1895

Lionel Barrymore ~ April 28, 1878

Miss Dupont ~ April 28, 1894

Gertrude Messinger ~ April 28, 1911

Me! ~ April 28, 1985

Carol Holloway ~ April 30, 1892