Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Gloria Swanson Saga, Part One - The Hairpin
to sound included Vilma Banky, Mae Murray and Norma Talmadge. Murray's marriage to minor aristocrat David Mdivani, who had her. Swanson become synonymous with Norma Desmond, her character During this period, Swanson endured what can only be described as a horrible marriage to fellow . just happened to be married to Norma Talmadge (major silent star), On the advice of Schneck, Swanson returned to Hollywood, tail. Norma Talmadge.1 In , a Photoplay contest named marriage, family, and domestic submission. The New Woman .. In advice to the New. Woman.
More than any other 20's actress of comparable popularity, Talmadge exploited the silent cinema's capacity to maintain this level of fluidity. Her star image depended on maintaining these multiple positions, thus making her persona particuarly dependent on the silent cinema's potential.
Had Talmadge the individual persisted in making films, perhaps she might have created a new image. However, the star image she created in the 20's could not be maintained in the sound era.
Her fluid persona was made possible by the silent cinema and its unique capability for a persona to transcend an individual voice. The studios seemed to have learned a lesson from the commercial and critical failure of Talmadge's talkies. Not until after the decline of the Hollywood studio was another actor allowed to create a star persona straddling so many different class and ethnic positions.
Talmadge was silenced at least in part by the power of the versatile, melodramatic persona she created using the unique potential of the silent cinema.
39 best Family images on Pinterest in | Classic hollywood, Silent film and Vintage movies
His voice was too high -- not effeminate, but with a piping note which all the efforts of the voice instructors could not bring into line with his screen appearance. His failure upset him emotionally and doubtless had much to do with his early death.
Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain. Anita Loos tells the following anecdote: The critics can't knock those trust funds Mom set up for us. Talmadge had separated from her husband-producer, and any attempt at transacting business between them must have been very awkward. She was a savvy investor who had enough money from her successes to retire comfortably. Talmadge was 33 inand surely the traditional Hollywood pressures on "aging" actresses must have been applied. In addition, Talmadge, a screen actress from Brooklyn with no stage training, had a strong Brooklyn accent.
This alone cannot explain Talmadge's failure in the talkies, however, since there is virtually no trace of this accent in her sound films. Talmadge had to work very hard with a voice teacher to rework her voice.
Biery 80 Sound film acting added another level of difficulty to this Brooklyn actress's job. One must also remember the climate of fear in Hollywood's acting community in the late 's. Rumors abounded concerning whether or not stars would be able to make the transition to sound.
Certainly these are enough factors to provide a satisfactory causal explanation of why Talmadge the historical individual did not continue to make sound films into the 's. This article summarizes the philosophy of the New Woman in a extraordinary credo of contradictions: I believe in woman's rights; but I believe in woman's sacrifices also. I believe in woman's freedom; but I believe it should be within the restrictions of the Ten Commandments.
I believe in woman suffrage; but I believe many other things are vastly more important. I believe in woman's brains; but I believe still more in her emotions. I believe in woman's assertion of self; but I believe also in her obligation of service to her family, her neighbors, her nation and her God. Following that faith we have the most modern expression of feminism.
The newest new woman deifies not herself, but through her new freedom elects to serve others. Abbott The signifier "New Woman" keeps reappearing in American popular usage every few decades or so in the '40's and the '70's. Remarkably, these "new" New Women bear much resemblance to their predecessors, emphasizing a contradictory combination of business ambition and domestic fulfillment. Stanley Cavell suggests that screen actors do not create characters as much as they create social types.
This story of how Talmadge rose to leading player status in the 's is not addressed in this article. The focus here is on the 20's when Talmadge's star image is popular, well-established, and relatively stable across the period.
The clipping files at the WCFTR are based primarily on the donations of a single collector, who unfortunately was a fan and not an archivist. Therefore few of the clippings have appropriate bibliographic citations. I hope that the enormous value of these primary materials will outweigh the necessary lack of specificity of citation.
Whenever possible I will note the type of publication in which the quotation appeared fan magazine, publicity release, etc.
This paper acknowledges the differences between the melodrama and the woman's film. Here the woman's film is taken to be a historically specific term applied to an industrial Hollywood cycle of Hollywood films targeted specifically for a women's audience. Such films featured female protagonists and female points of view and often adapted material from other women's pop culture sources such as magazines and pulp novels.
Melodrama is defined as a narrative mode which can be seen in many different media and is itself a term which has undergone significant historical change.Norma Talmadge-This I Swear
The woman's film is not a subset of the melodrama. During this period, Swanson endured what can only be described as a horrible marriage to fellow Sennett star Wallace Beery.
They married on her 17th birthday, he forced himself on her the night of the wedding, and when she later became pregnant, he tricked her into drinking a mixture that would abort the baby.
Beery was a drunkard and an abuser, and while this all sounds like a bad Lifetime movie, Swanson knew what was what — she left him almost immediately after the abortion machinations, even though the divorce took three years to finalize.
But Swanson was undeterred in her professional life. She parlayed her popularity from the Sennett films into a contract with Paramount, where she made approximately a billion films, as all the silent stars did. She consistently worked with Cecil B.
DeMille remember that fact for later and made a slew of what can only be called silent rom-com-drams: These are also the films that made Swanson a tremendous star — along the lines of Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks.
Byshe was all of 23 years old. She had become so popular, and brought so much money to Paramount, that they essentially gave her everything she wanted — the biggest clothing budgets, the most extravagant salary demands. Her star image, both on the screen and off, was that of the clothes horse: Think Sarah Jessica Parker, only with more peacock feathers. The movies would, ostensibly, be less scandalous, titillating, and religiously offensive, and the stars themselves would have to agree to morality clauses as part of their studio contracts.
But then Momma Gloria apparently got busy: But long before Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie figured out that adopting an adorable girl from Somalia would help detract from the fact that they were totally crushing the American Dream Girl Next Door, Swanson, amidst the divorce proceedings, adopts a baby boy, Joseph. Nevermind that pesky lack-of-fortune business — it was time for some real Downton Abbey new-American-money European-title-hunting.
She was placed in a limousine with eight motorcycle police escorts preceding her up Sunset Boulevard. Thousands of school children lined the sidewalk and threw flowers at her. For a person dinner party, she gave favors of solid-gold compacts for women and solid-gold cigarette cases for men. Swanson doubtlessly loved clothes, but so much of these expenditures were performative — pure image-making.
Swanson redacted all records of the affair — save a few adorable thank you cards from little John F. She fell in with Kennedy somewhat innocently. But as anyone who works with artists understands, a modicum of oversight often encourages the best work. When Griffith left United Artists, everything could very well have gone to shit.
Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Gloria Swanson Saga, Part One
But the studio took on a veteran producer, Joseph Schneck, who just happened to be married to Norma Talmadge major silent starwho just happened to be the sister of Natalie Talmadge even more major silent starwho just happened to be married to Buster Keaton most major silent starwho he could rope into United Artists productions.
Her first independent production, The Love of Sunya, was a bit of a clusterfuck. The film was way over budget and performed way below expectations. She recruited Raoul Walsh, who would eventually become one of the most important directors of classic Hollywood, to direct her next picture. But when the rest of the studios hear about it, they get super pissed — everyone knew about the scandalous undertones of the play, and the studios and Hays send Walsh a furious TWO-PAGE telegraph.
They look like icicles, don't they? Dutch [Constance's nickname] agreed eagerly and purchased all he had of them.
The young man now ventured further. At which our benefactor produced a package of small deflated balloons, which he explained could be blown up and secured with dental floss. After which our young friend bethought himself of surgical cotton to serve as snow.
Then, in a parting gesture, he presented Dutch with the two strings of colored lights that were blinking above the cash register.
The drugstore clerk, utterly in love with Dutch at that point, carried the "decorations" back to the hotel suite where he, Anita and Talmadge girls decorated the tree. And it was agreed to risk Peg's fury. When she entered, wearing her nightie and sleepy-eyed, we waited breathlessly for her reaction.
Greg Smith, Greg M. Smith: Silencing the New Woman, Norma Talmadge
But she spoke a little too fondly, for Peg immediately began to assess the young man's attractions. As if he were not even present, she asked, "And where did you dig him up? Suspiciously, she turned to remove one of the icicles from the tree, examined it, and then in smoldering fury she addressed Lester. Lester blanched and looked flat enough to creep under the wall-to-wall carpet.