1920s acting scene

by animefan-08335 | created - 9 months ago | updated - 9 months ago | Public

1. Clara Bow

Actress | Wings

Clara Gordon Bow, destined to become "The It Girl", was born on July 29, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in poverty and violence. Her often absentee and brutish father could not or did not provide and her schizophrenic mother tried to slit Clara's throat when the girl spoke of becoming ...

2. Greta Garbo

Actress | Ninotchka

Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden, to Anna Lovisa (Johansdotter), who worked at a jam factory, and Karl Alfred Gustafsson, a laborer. She was fourteen when her father died, which left the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and ...

3. Mary Astor

Actress | The Maltese Falcon

Mary Astor was born, Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke, on May 3, 1906 in Quincy, Illinois to a German immigrant father, Otto Ludwig Langhanke, and an American mother from Illinois, Helen Marie Vasconcellos, of Portuguese and Irish ancestry. Her parents were very ambitious for her as they recognized ...

4. Dolores del Rio

Actress | Las abandonadas

Dolores del Rio was the one of the first Mexican movie stars with international appeal and who had meteoric career in the 1920s/1930s Hollywood. Del Rio came from an aristocratic family in Durango. In the Mexican revolution of 1916, however, the family lost everything and emigrated to Mexico City, ...

5. Aileen Pringle

Actress | The Last of Mrs. Cheyney

Aileen Pringle's favorite film was a mid-1920s silent based on a book by Elinor Glyn: Three Weeks (1924), sort of a "Lady Chatterly's Lover". She recalled in a 1980 telephone conversation: "The film was in good taste; some people thought the book was trashy". Anita Loos wrote in "A Girl Like I", the...

6. Betty Balfour

Actress | Champagne

Betty Balfour was born on March 27, 1903 in London, England. She was an actress, known for Champagne (1928), Squibs (1935) and Squibs' Honeymoon (1923). She was married to Jimmy Campbell. She died on November 4, 1977 in Weybridge, Surrey, England.

7. Betty Bronson

Actress | Peter Pan

Betty Bronson's discovery reads like a Hollywood dream. As a New Jersey teenage bit-player, she was rocketed from obscurity when she was chosen to play the part of Peter Pan in 1924's Peter Pan (1924). She was hand-selected by author J.M. Barrie and beat several Hollywood superstars to the part, ...

8. Myrna Loy

Actress | The Best Years of Our Lives

Myrna Loy was born Myrna Adele Williams on August 2, 1905 in Helena, Montana, to Adelle Mae (Johnson) and David Franklin Williams. Her paternal grandparents were Welsh, and her mother was of Scottish and Swedish descent. Myrna was raised in Helena and nearby Radersburg. Her father, a rancher, was ...

9. Jean Arthur

Actress | Shane

This marvelous screen comedienne's best asset was only muffled during her seven years' stint in silent films. That asset? It was, of course, her squeaky, frog-like voice, which silent-era cinema audiences had simply no way of perceiving, much less appreciating. Jean Arthur, born Gladys Georgianna ...

10. Louise Dresser

Actress | The Scarlet Empress

This knowing, plump-framed, strong-willed actress went on to play the gamut of emotions, from downtrodden, drunken ex-stars to self-controlled dowager empresses, in both silent pictures and early talkies. Grandly supporting the huge stars of her day (including Rudolph Valentino and Will Rogers), ...

11. Janet Gaynor

Actress | A Star Is Born

Janet Gaynor was born Laura Gainor on October 6, 1906, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, she & her parents moved to San Francisco, California, where she graduated from high school in 1923. She then moved to Los Angeles where she enrolled in a secretarial school. She got a job at a shoe ...

12. Fay Wray

Actress | King Kong

Canadian-born Fay Wray was brought up in Los Angeles and entered films at an early age. She was barely in her teens when she started working as an extra. She began her career as a heroine in westerns at Universal during the silent era. In 1926 the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers ...

13. Brigitte Helm

Actress | Metropolis

After her role in Metropolis (1927) she made a string of movies in which she almost always had the starring role, easily making the transition to sound films. Her last film was An Ideal Spouse (1935) (An Ideal Spouse) in 1935.

14. Kathryn Carver

Actress | No Defense

Kathryn Carver was born on August 24, 1899 in New York City, New York, USA as Catherine Drum. She was an actress, known for No Defense (1929), Serenade (1927) and His Private Life (1928). She was married to Paul Vincent Hall, Adolphe Menjou and Ira L. Hill. She died on July 17, 1947 in Elmhurst, ...

15. Billie Dove

Actress | The Black Pirate

In her silent heyday, this ravishing and highly photogenic star, known for her voluptuous femininity on the silent screen, rivaled that of Mary Pickford, Marion Davies and Clara Bow in popularity. She retired after only a few years into the talking picture era, however, and is not as ...

16. Marian Nixon

Actress | Captain Calamity

Marian Nixon was born on October 20, 1904, in Superior, Wisconsin. Her career started in 1923 when she played Agnes Evans in Cupid's Fireman (1923). She was nineteen. Marian always gave a good account for herself when she appeared in films and was much in demand throughout the 1920s. Marian was one...

17. Barbara Bedford

Actress | The Last of the Mohicans

Barbara Bedford was born on July 19, 1903 in Eastman, Wisconsin, USA as Violet Rose. She was an actress, known for The Last of the Mohicans (1920), Smoke Bellew (1929) and Sunshine of Paradise Alley (1926). She was married to Terry Spencer, Alan Roscoe and Irvin Willat. She died on October 25, 1981...

18. Madge Bellamy

Actress | Black Paradise

Madge was born as Margaret Philpott in Texas. She got her start in theater working with a stock company in Denver. Put under a personal contract by a Broadway producer, Madge got her big break when she replaced Helen Hayes in the Broadway play "Dear Brutus". Her success as a stage actress led to ...

19. Sue Carol

Actress | The Lone Star Ranger

Sue Carol was born Evelyn Jean Lederer on October 30, 1906 in Chicago, Illinois, to Caroline (Schmidt) and Samuel Lederer. Her parents were Jewish immigrants (from Bohemia and Germany). She was 20 years old when she entered film work. Her first role was a bit part in Soft Cushions (1927) in 1927. ...

20. Marceline Day

Actress | Broadway to Cheyenne

The younger sister of actress Alice Day, Marceline Day achieved stardom in the mid-'20s, appearing opposite such stars as John Barrymore and Lon Chaney. Adept at comedy, she also starred with such top comics as Buster Keaton and Harry Langdon. Her career faltered in the early '30s, however, and she...

21. Mary Nolan

Actress | Desert Nights

Blonde and utterly beautiful, Mary Nolan had the requisite figure and prettiness to rise up fast in the Hollywood ranks. Her downfall, however, would be just as fast and not at all pretty. She was born Mary Imogene Robertson in 1905 and began her show-business career as a teenage model. Showman ...

22. Virginia Brown Faire

Actress | Trails of Danger

Virginia Brown Faire was born on June 26, 1904 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Virginia Cecelia Labuna. She was an actress, known for Trails of Danger (1930), Breed of the West (1930) and Monte Cristo (1922). She was married to William Bayer, Duke Worne, Jack Dougherty and Dick Durham....

23. Barbara La Marr

Actress | The Three Musketeers

Reatha Watson (Barbara La Marr) is possibly most famous as supposedly being one of the first drug-related deaths in Hollywood, but while she had a serious drinking problem she in fact died of tuberculosis with complications of nephritis. She is notable for other reasons, among them her successes as...

24. Joan Crawford

Actress | What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23, 1905, in San Antonio, Texas, to Anna Belle (Johnson) and Thomas E. LeSueur, a laundry laborer. By the time she was born, her parents had separated, and by the time she was a teenager, she'd had three stepfathers. It wasn't an easy life; ...

25. Dorothy Mackaill

Actress | Bulldog Drummond at Bay

Dorothy Mackaill was 11 when her parents separated; she then lived with her father. A rebellious teenager, Dorothy -- who had long wanted a career in the theater -- ran away to London and finally persuaded her father to pay for her board and lessons. Her first job was in the chorus; she then ...

26. Nita Naldi

Actress | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Nonna Dooley, the future silent screen star, began her career as a showgirl in a Shubert revue in the Winter Garden, later went on to the famed Ziegfeld Follies.

After a successful career on the stage with the Follies, Nita decided to try her hand with films in Hollywood. Her rise to fame was very ...

27. Gertrude Olmstead

Actress | The Monster

Gertrude Olmstead was born in Chicago, IL, on Nov. 13, 1897. She entered the film business early, making her film debut in The Fox (1921) at 17 years of age. The next year she appeared in the hit The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1922). She stayed busy throughout the 1920s, appearing in a total of...

28. Mary Philbin

Actress | The Man Who Laughs

Mary Philbin's life should be a lesson to domineering parents. Mary was born on July 16, 1903, in Chicago, Illinois, to John Philbin and his first wife and namesake, Mary. The child was regarded as a little beauty from an early age and her mother was exceedingly proud of her and loved to show her ...

29. Leni Riefenstahl

Producer | Das blaue Licht - Eine Berglegende aus den Dolomiten

Leni Riefenstahl's show-biz experience began with an experiment: she wanted to know what it felt like to dance on the stage. Success as a dancer gave way to film acting when she attracted the attention of film director Arnold Fanck, subsequently starring in some of his mountaineering pictures. With...

30. Lilyan Tashman

Actress | The Matrimonial Bed

Lilyan Tashman was born on October 23, 1896, in Brooklyn, New York, to Rose (Cook) and Morris Tashman. Her parents were Jewish immigrants, her father from Bialystok, Poland, and her mother from Germany. After toying with some stage work, she made her film debut with Experience (1921). That was her ...

31. Olive Borden

Actress | Half Marriage

Considered one of the most beautiful actresses of the silent era, Borden was a 'Mack Sennet' bathing beauty at 15 and reached the peak of her career in 1926 when she made 11 films for Fox Studios and was earning $1,500 a week. Refusing to take a salary cut, Borden abruptly left Fox in 1928 and made...

32. Alberta Vaughn

Actress | The Live Wire

Alberta Vaughn was born on June 27, 1904 in Ashland, Kentucky, USA as Alberta F. Vaughn. She was an actress, known for The Live Wire (1935), The Laramie Kid (1935) and The Adorable Deceiver (1926). She was married to John R. Thomas (contractor) and Joseph Ellsworth Egli (ass't casting director). ...

Skyscraper The Drop Kick The Romantic Age

33. Lupe Velez

Actress | The Girl from Mexico

Lupe Velez was born on July 18, 1908, in San Luis de Potosi, Mexico, as Maria Guadalupe Villalobos Velez. She was sent to Texas at the age of 13 to live in a convent. She later admitted that she wasn't much of a student because she was so rambunctious. She had planned to become a champion ...

34. Alice White

Actress | Broadway Babies

This Hollywood High graduate began her career as a secretary and script girl, working for Josef von Sternberg and Charles Chaplin. A sexy and bubbly player, she was repeatedly miscast as a singer-dancer. She toured the vaudeville circuit after her career spluttered, returning to Hollywood only to ...

35. Jacqueline Logan

Actress | The King of Kings

Beautiful auburn-haired, green-eyed leading lady of the silent screen, a "hand-picked" (by the great Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. himself) Ziegfeld Follies girl of 1920. "Jackie" was the daughter of architect Charles A. Logan and the Boston Conservatory opera singer and music teacher Marion Logan. She had ...

36. Jane Winton

Actress | Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Statuesque, gorgeous Jane Winton was billed as the "Green-eyed Goddess of Hollywood". The former Ziegfeld Follies dancer appeared in a good number of films from 1925--if not as the nominal star then, at least, very high up the list of credits. Her aloof beauty was tailor-made for playing patrician ...

37. Natalie Kingston

Actress | Tarzan the Tiger

She traced her lineage back to the first Spanish governor of California. Her great-grandfather on her mother's side was Hungarian-born Agoston Haraszthy, dubbed the father of Californian viticulture. Leggy, olive-complexioned Natalia Ringstrom grew up and was educated in the San Francisco Bay area....

38. Carmelita Geraghty

Actress | The Great Gatsby

The daughter of screenwriter Tom Geraghty and sister of writers Maurice Geraghty and Gerald Geraghty, Carmelita Geraghty was a graduate of Hollywood High School, where she was in charge of the school calendar. Voted a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1924, she spent most of her career as a leading lady, playing ...

39. Dorothy Sebastian

Actress | A Woman of Affairs

The daughter of a clergyman and a mother, who was an accomplished painter of portraits and landscapes, Stella Dorothy Sabiston spent her formative years in her home state of Alabama. She had three siblings, all of whom died relatively young. She attended the University of Alabama, but always ...

40. June Marlowe

Actress | Below the Line

June Marlowe was born on November 6, 1903 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA as Gisela Valaria Goetten. She was an actress, known for Below the Line (1925), Pardon Us (1931) and Code of the Air (1928). She was married to Rodney Sprigg. She died on March 10, 1984 in Burbank, California, USA.

41. Molly O'Day

Actress | The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come

Molly O'Day was born on October 16, 1911 in Bayonne, New Jersey, USA as Suzanne Dobson Noonan. She was an actress, known for The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1928), The Patent Leather Kid (1927) and Bars of Hate (1935). She was married to James Kenaston and Jack Durant. She died on October 22, ...

42. Sally O'Neil

Actress | Girl of the Port

Cute-as-a-button and diminutive in size, Sally O'Neil (sometimes billed as Sally O'Neill), was one of 11 children born to a judge in 1908 in Bayonne, New Jersey. Another sister would also become a well-known actress, Molly O'Day. Sally was educated in a convent and started in vaudeville where she ...

43. Mary Brian

Actress | Charlie Chan in Paris

Dubbed "The Sweetest Girl in Pictures", Mary Brian started life as Louise Byrdie Datzler. She was born in Corsicana, Texas, and went to high school in Dallas. Her widowed mother had big plans for young Louise and took her to California in 1923, with the intention of getting her into the film ...

44. Estelle Brody

Actress | Hindle Wakes

Estelle Brody was born on August 15, 1900 in New York City, New York, USA. She was an actress, known for Fanny Hawthorne (1927), Anne of Green Gables (1952) and Kitty (1929). She died on June 3, 1995 in La Vallette, Malta.

45. Leila Hyams

Actress | Freaks

Leila Hyams was one of the top leading ladies of the early talkie pre-code years. She was a likable, pleasing actress with a charming presence. She had much spark, personality and charisma, and a touch of down-to-earthiness and naturalness that won over movie fans; they could relate to her. A ...

46. Patsy Ruth Miller

Actress | Fools in the Dark

Patsy Ruth Miller was born on January 17, 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA as Patricia Ruth Miller. She was an actress, known for Fools in the Dark (1924), Hell-Bent for Heaven (1926) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). She was married to Effingham Smith Deans, John Lee Mahin and Tay Garnett. ...

47. Nancy Carroll

Actress | There Goes My Heart

Nancy Carroll made her film debut in 1927 after several years on the musical stage and later and Broadway. She became very popular upon the advent of sound because of her musical background. This red-haired, cupid-bow-mouthed star entertained movie audiences during the 1930s mouthed star gained a ...

48. Lois Moran

Actress | Men in Her Life

Her soft Irish beauty highlighted many films in the late 1920s and 1930s, but film actress Lois Moran's major claim to fame was as F. Scott Fitzgerald's inspiration for the character of "Rosemary" in his classic novel Tender Is the Night. Lois trained in dance while young and moved to Paris with ...

49. Helen Foster

Actress | The Boiling Point

Helen Foster was born on May 23, 1906 in Independence, Kansas, USA. She was an actress, known for The Boiling Point (1932), The Road to Ruin (1928) and The Primrose Path (1931). She died on December 25, 1982 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

50. Greta Nissen

Actress | The Unwritten Law

Greta Ruzt-Nissen was born in Oslo, Norway, on January 30, 1905. As a young girl she studied dance and had intended to make a career out of it. For a while she did, but when she was 19 she appeared in her first big-screen production, The Wanderer (1925). Afterwards she made several more films, but ...

51. Sigrid Holmquist

Actress | The Light That Failed

Sigrid Holmquist was born on February 21, 1899 in Borås, Västra Götalands län, Sweden. She was an actress, known for The Light That Failed (1923), The Early Bird (1925) and The Men Women Love (1926). She was married to Anthony Cirici. She died on July 9, 1970 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

52. Annabella

Actress | 13 Rue Madeleine

At age 16, Annabella was chosen by Abel Gance to appear in Napoleon (1927). In the 30s, she became a star of French movies. She made movies in numerous other countries, before being called to Hollywood in 1938, where she met and married Tyrone Power. She remained in the USA until 1947. Then she ...

53. Catherine Hessling

Actress | Nana

Catherine Hessling was born on June 22, 1900 in Moronvilliers, Marne, France as Andrée Madeleine Heuschling Hessling. She was an actress, known for Nana (1926), Little Red Riding Hood (1930) and Whirlpool of Fate (1925). She was married to Jean Renoir. She died on September 28, 1979 in ...

54. Betty Ross Clarke

Actress | If I Were King

This brown-haired, grey-eyed ingénue of the early 20's made her way to the screen via touring stock companies immediately upon completing her education. She was a vaudeville dancer, then had a small role on Broadway in 1917. Eventually, she would come to greater prominence on the London stage. ...

55. June Collyer

Actress | Murder by Television

June Collyer was born Dorothea Heermance in New York City on August 19, 1906. She began her career in the film East Side, West Side (1927). After making the successful change to the sound era, June continued to work, something some of her counterparts couldn't do. She appeared on the silver screen ...

56. Dorothy Dwan

Actress | The Wizard of Oz

Dorothy Dwan was born on April 26, 1906 in Sedalia, Missouri, USA as Dorothy Illgenfritz. She was an actress, known for The Wizard of Oz (1925), Bashful Buccaneer (1925) and Spuds (1927). She was married to Paul Northcutt Boggs Jr., Larry Semon and Fred Buckels. She died on March 17, 1981 in ...

57. Ruth Mix

Actress | Custer's Last Stand

Ruth Mix was born on July 13, 1912 in Dewey, Oklahoma, USA as Nadine Ruth Jane Mix. She was an actress, known for Custer's Last Stand (1936), Saddle Aces (1935) and The Black Coin (1936). She was married to William Hickman Hill, Howard Tilman Cragg, John A. Guthrie, Harry Knight and Douglas Gilmore...

58. Alice Day

Actress | Two-Fisted Law

Alice Day began her film career as a Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty in her mid-teens, and by age 18 was starring in features. Her younger sister, Marceline Day, was also an actress, but Alice never managed to eclipse her sister's career. She was soon working mainly in B pictures and shorts, and ...

59. Josephine Dunn

Actress | Second Honeymoon

Convent-educated Mary Josephine Dunn got her start in the chorus line of 'Good Morning, Dearie' at the age of 15. She was briefly in the Ziegfeld Follies and, in 1924, had a walk-on in 'Dear Sir' on Broadway. Two years later, she was picked by a talent scout to join the Paramount acting school for ...

Excess Baggage The Sorrows of Satan

60. Thelma Todd

Actress | Horse Feathers

Thelma Todd was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, an industrial city near the New Hampshire state line. She was a lovely child with good academic tendencies, so much so that she decided early on to become a schoolteacher. After high school she went on to college but at her mother's insistence ...

61. Gwen Lee

Actress | Laugh, Clown, Laugh

She was one of the archetypal flappers of the Jazz Age. Blonde, blue-eyed and impeccably coiffured, we recall Gwen Lee as tall, blonde flibbertigibbets and gold-digging vamps in films of the late 1920's and early 30's. Gwen was born in Nebraska and attended school in Omaha. Having suitably ...

62. Lilian Harvey

Actress | Die Drei von der Tankstelle

Lilian Harvey was born on January 19th, 1906 in London. Her mother was English and her father was German. When she was eight her family moved to Berlin shortly before the outbreak of WW1. She spent much of the war at school in Switzerland where she broadened her knowledge of languages and classical...

63. Betty Amann

Actress | Asphalt

Born in Germany to American parents, dark-haired Betty Amann (born Philippine Amann) grew up in the US. She began her screen career as Bee Amann in the mid-'20s, but returned to Germany after appearing in a 'Tom Tyler' Western for low-budget FBO Pictures. Arriving in the wake of Louise Brooks, she ...

64. Jetta Goudal

Actress | Salome of the Tenements

Although Dutch-born silent screen femme fatale Jetta Goudal (pronounced Zhett-eh Goo-doll) may be pretty much forgotten today, she was, in her glorious Hollywood heyday, a star rivaling that of Gloria Swanson and fellow vamps Barbara La Marr and Nita Naldi. The daughter of a Jewish orthodox diamond...

65. Camilla Horn

Actress | Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage

The daughter of a railroad official, Camilla Horn was educated in Germany and Switzerland. She initially trained as a dressmaker and received her first job experience in a fashion salon in Erfurt. This was merely a stepping stone for a performing career which began with dance lessons in Berlin and ...

66. Anna Sten

Actress | Devushka s korobkoy

Born in Russia to a Ukrainian father and a Swedish mother, Anna Sten studied at the Russian Film Academy and joined the Moscow Art Theater. Strikingly beautiful, she went on to appear in a number of Russian silent films, but it was in the German film Der Mörder Dimitri Karamasoff (1931) that ...

67. Janet Gaynor

Actress | A Star Is Born

Janet Gaynor was born Laura Gainor on October 6, 1906, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, she & her parents moved to San Francisco, California, where she graduated from high school in 1923. She then moved to Los Angeles where she enrolled in a secretarial school. She got a job at a shoe ...

1609 points

68. Brigitte Helm

Actress | Metropolis

After her role in Metropolis (1927) she made a string of movies in which she almost always had the starring role, easily making the transition to sound films. Her last film was An Ideal Spouse (1935) (An Ideal Spouse) in 1935.

1401 points

69. Jane Winton

Actress | Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Statuesque, gorgeous Jane Winton was billed as the "Green-eyed Goddess of Hollywood". The former Ziegfeld Follies dancer appeared in a good number of films from 1925--if not as the nominal star then, at least, very high up the list of credits. Her aloof beauty was tailor-made for playing patrician ...

1353 points

70. Maly Delschaft

Actress | Der letzte Mann

Maly Delschaft was born on December 4, 1898 in Hamburg, Germany as Amalie Köster-Delschaft. She was an actress, known for The Last Laugh (1924), Die drei Portiermädel (1925) and The White Horse Inn (1926). She died on August 20, 1995 in Berlin, Germany.

1230 points

71. Mary Philbin

Actress | The Man Who Laughs

Mary Philbin's life should be a lesson to domineering parents. Mary was born on July 16, 1903, in Chicago, Illinois, to John Philbin and his first wife and namesake, Mary. The child was regarded as a little beauty from an early age and her mother was exceedingly proud of her and loved to show her ...

1196 points

72. Eleanor Boardman

Actress | Souls for Sale

Philadelphia-born Eleanor Boardman had always wanted to be an actress, and as soon as she graduated high school she headed for New York to conquer Broadway. When Broadway proved not quite ready to be conquered yet, she took whatever jobs she could find, including one as an artist's model. In that ...

1146 points

73. Barbara Kent

Actress | Lonesome

A pretty, diminutive (4'11") actress of the silent and early sound era, Barbara Cloutman (later Kent) was born in Gadsby, Alberta, Canada on December 16, 1907. Upon graduating from Hollywood High School in 1925, Kent won the Miss Hollywood Pageant, and set her sights on a career in the movies. She ...

1057 points

74. Louise Brooks

Actress | Die Büchse der Pandora

Mary Louise Brooks, also known by her childhood name of Brooksie, was born in the midwestern town of Cherryvale, Kansas, on November 14, 1906. She began dancing at an early age with the Denishawn Dancers (which was how she left Kansas and went to New York) and then with George White's Scandals ...

1044 points



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