Gilda Langer – Caligari’s Muse


Gilda was born Hermengild Langer on 16 May, 1896 in Oderfurt (now Prívoz), a section of the city of Ostrava in the now Czech Republic.  Like many girls who grew up in the suburbs, Gilda dreamt of one day moving to the big city and becoming an actress.  So, at the age of 18, she set out for Vienna. It was there that she met Carl Mayer, an aspiring writer with a gift for telling wild tales.  Carl was enchanted by Gilda and took her to Berlin with him. Berlin was the theater and film center of Germany. Much like Hollywood, girls came from far and wide hoping to be discovered and become the next Pola Negri.

In 1917, Carl and Gilda set up shop at the Residence Theater in Berlin, he as a cashier, extra and assistant director and she as a supporting actress.  They slowly started to make contacts in the theatrical and motion picture scene, then Carl had a great idea. He figured that publicity was what really made you a movie star. Talent took a backseat to truly good PR. In 1917, Carl published photos in the trade press called, “The Gilda Langer Series”.  It wasn’t long before she was noticed and landed a role opposite Harry Liedtke and Conrad Veidt in the exotic adventure movie, Das Rätsel von Bangalor (1918).

The beginning of 1919 started out with a role working alongside action star Carl de Vogt and dancer Sadjah Gezza in the erotic thriller, Der Herr der Liebe, the second film directed by 28-year-old screenwriter Fritz Lang. The film was banned due to the erotic nature of the material, including a very sheer robe worn by Gilda. It was however shown to the press and Gilda became the new sensation.  She appeared in two other Fritz Lang films, Halbblut and Die Spinnen – Teil 2 aka The Spiders – Part 2.

It was around this time that Carl was introduced to a young man named Hans Janowitz. Hans too was an aspiring writer and it was at Gilda’s behest that the two of them collaborate on a story. In the winter of 1919, they wrote The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. They envisioned a film version with Gilda in the part that Lil Dagover eventually played.

Gilda never lived to see the premiere. On January 31, 1920, she succumbed to the Spanish flu. As with many actors and actresses who die young, rumors surrounded her death. Some thought she had had a nervous breakdown, still others speculated that she’d overdosed on drugs. None of this seems to be founded in any reality. Just a few weeks before her death she had accepted a marriage proposal from director Paul Czinner.

Like most of Gilda’s films, her grave marker too was long lost and thought to be destroyed. Carl had paid to inscribe notes from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” on the stone. It wasn’t until 1995 when  a local film historian discovered her gravesite in a neglected section of Stahnsdorf’s Südwestfriedhof in Brandenburg, Germany.


Phyllis Haver

Phyllis HaverName: Phyllis Haver
Born: January 6, 1899, Douglass, KS
Father: James Hiram Haver (1872-1936)
Mother: Minnie Shanks (1879-1949)
Siblings: none
On-Screen Active Years: 1915-1930
She married millionaire William “Billy” Seeman (1891-1961) of Seeman Brothers, Inc., a New York wholesale grocer, in April of 1929.  She divorced him in an “8 minute divorce trial” in May of 1945 in Reno, Nevada.
Started out as a Sennett Bathing Beauty.
Phyllis and William Seeman were married by then mayor of New York City, James J. Walker, with whom Seeman was a close friend. The union took place in the home of cartoonist Rube Goldberg, the husband of William Seeman’s sister, Irma.
Phyllis was a great lover of animals. She had many dogs and cats over the years and was often photographed with them.
Her death was rumored to be a suicide.  A newspaper report at the time noted that police had said that she had attempted suicide a year before. It was also said that she was very despondent over the death of Mack Sennett earlier that month, whom she saw as a father figure.
Died: November 19, 1960, Sharon, CT at her home
Age: 61
Cause:  overdose of barbiturates
Interred: Grassy Hill Cemetery, Falls Village, CT
1930      She Couldn’t Say No (unknown if she was actually in this film)

1929      Thunder

1929      The Office Scandal

1928      The Shady Lady

1928      Sal of Singapore

1928      The Battle of the Sexes

1928      Tenth Avenue

1927      Chicago

1927      The Wise Wife

1927      The Fighting Eagle

1927      The Rejuvenation of Aunt Mary

1927      Your Wife and Mine

1927      The Way of All Flesh

1927      The Little Adventuress

1927      No Control

1927      Nobody’s Widow

1927      Girl in the Rain

1926      What Price Glory?

1926      The Nervous Wreck

1926      Fig Leaves

1926      3 Bad Men

1926      Don Juan

1926      Up in Mabel’s Room

1926      Hard Boiled

1926      Other Women’s Husbands

1926      The Caveman

1925      A Fight to the Finish

1925      New Brooms

1925      The Golden Princess

1925      Rugged Water

1925      After Business Hours

1925      I Want My Man

1924      Her Husband’s Secret

1924      So Big

1924      One Glorious Night

1924      The Snob

1924      The Breath of Scandal

1924      The Foolish Virgin

1924      Single Wives

1924      The Midnight Express

1924      The Perfect Flapper

1924      The Hollywood Kid (Short)

1924      The Fighting Coward

1924      Singer Jim McKee

1924      Lilies of the Field

1923      The Temple of Venus

1923      The Common Law

1923      The Bolted Door

1923      The Balloonatic (Short)

1923      The Christian

1922      Home Movies

1922      Home Made Movies (Short)

1922      Step Forward (Short)

1921      Bright Eyes (Short)

1921      Love and Doughnuts (Short)

1921      Love’s Outcast (Short)

1921      Home Talent

1921      The Unhappy Finish (Short)

1921      A Small Town Idol

1921      On a Summer Day (Short)

1920      Love, Honor and Behave!

1920      Movie Fans (Short)

1920      Married Life

1920      Ten Dollars or Ten Days (Short)

1919      A Lady’s Tailor (Short)

1919      His Last False Step (Short)

1919      Salome vs. Shenandoah (Short)

1919      Up in Alf’s Place (Short)

1919      The Dentist (Short)

1919      Among Those Present (Short)

1919      Trying to Get Along (Short)

1919      Hearts and Flowers (Short)

1919      When Love Is Blind (Short)

1919      Why Beaches Are Popular (Short)

1919      The Foolish Age (Short)

1919      The Village Smithy (Short)

1919      Yankee Doodle in Berlin

1919      East Lynne with Variations (Short)

1919      Never Too Old (Short)

1918      Whose Little Wife Are You? (Short)

1918      His Wife’s Friend (Short)

1918      The Summer Girls (Short)

1918      She Loved Him Plenty (Short)

1918      Ladies First (Short)

1918      Love Loops the Loop (Short)

1918      His Smothered Love (Short)

1918      Those Athletic Girls (Short)

1918      It Pays to Exercise (Short)

1918      Whose Little Girl Are You? (Short)

1917      That Night (Short)

1917      Are Waitresses Safe? (Short)

1917      The Pullman Bride (Short)

1917      Their Husband (Short)

1917      Roping Her Romeo (Short)

1917      ’49-’17

1917      A Prairie Heiress (Short)

1917      A Bedroom Blunder (Short)

1917      All at Sea (Short)

1917      The Sultan’s Wife (Short)

1917      His Unconscious Conscience (Short)

1917      Whose Baby? (Short)

1917      A Janitor’s Vengeance (Short)

1917      A Dog Catcher’s Love (Short)

1916      Sunshine (Short)

Phyllis & Billy during happier times

Phyllis & Billy during happier times

Alice Day

Marceline and Alice Day2Name: Alice Day
Birth Name: Jacquiline Alice Newlin (There are numerous references online to this first name, but I have yet to find hard proof. The 1910 census lists her name as Alice.)
Born: November 7, 1906, CO
Father: UNKNOWN Newlin
Mother: Irene M. Freeman aka Irene Day (1886-1961)
Siblings: Silent screen actress Marceline Day
On-Screen Active Years: 1923-1932
She married wealthy broker, Jack Cohn, in an extravagant wedding in Santa Barbara in 1930. They had two children, Richard Buschke Cohn (1931-2002) and Gary Buschke Cohn (1933-living?). The union ended with a lengthy court battle over custody of the children and allocation of property. In 1953, Richard legally changed his name to Richard Newlin Day. Little seems to be known about her second husband. His surname was Hawkins and that is the name that Alice was using at the time of her death.
Started out as a Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty
WAMPAS Baby Star of 1928
Died: May 25, 1995, Orange, CA
Age: 89
Cause: natural causes
Interred: n/a
1932 Gold

1932 Two-Fisted Law

1932 Love Bound

1931 The Lady from Nowhere

1930 Viennese Nights

1930 Hot Curves

1930 Ladies in Love

1930 In the Next Room

1930 Melody Man

1929 The Love Racket

1929 The Show of Shows

1929 Little Johnny Jones

1929 Is Everybody Happy?

1929 Skin Deep

1929 Times Square

1929 Drag

1929 Red Hot Speed

1928 The Way of the Strong

1928 Phyllis of the Follies

1928 The Smart Set

1927 The Gorilla

1927 Night Life

1927 See You in Jail

1927 A Dozen Socks (Short)

1927 The Plumber’s Daughter (Short)

1927 Pass the Dumplings (Short)

1926 The Waiter from the Ritz

1926 Kitty from Killarney (Short)

1926 Hesitating Horses (Short)

1926 His New York Wife

1926 Should Husbands Marry? (Short)

1926 The Perils of Petersboro (Short)

1926 Her Actor Friend (Short)

1926 Alice Be Good (Short)

1926 Puppy Lovetime (Short)

1926 The Ghost of Folly (Short)

1926 A Love Sundae (Short)

1926 Spanking Breezes (Short)

1926 Gooseland (Short)

1926 Hot Cakes for Two (Short)

1925 Hotsy-Totsy (Short)

1925 The Soapsuds Lady (Short)

1925 A Sweet Pickle (Short)

1925 Love and Kisses (Short)

1925 Cold Turkey (Short)

1925 Tee for Two (Short)

1925 Bashful Jim (Short)

1925 The Beloved Bozo (Short)

1925 Honeymoon Hardships (Short)

1925 The Plumber (Short)

1925 The Sea Squawk (Short)

1924 Off His Trolley (Short)

1924 The Reel Virginian (Short)

1924 Riders of the Purple Cows (Short)

1924 Little Robinson Corkscrew (Short)

1924 East of the Water Plug (Short)

1924 The First 100 Years (Short)

1924 Romeo and Juliet (Short)

1924 His New Mamma (Short)

1924 The Cat’s Meow (Short)

1924 Flickering Youth (Short)

1924 Shanghaied Lovers (Short)

1924 Secrets

1924 Picking Peaches (Short)

1923 My Pal (Short)

1923 The Temple of Venus

Alice Day

Marceline Day

Sisters Alice and Marceline Day

Sisters Alice and Marceline

Name: Marceline Day

Birth Name: Marceline Newlin
Born: April 24, 1908, Colorado Springs, CO
Father: UNKNOWN Newlin
Mother: Irene M. Freeman (1886-1961)
Siblings: Silent screen actress Alice Day
On-Screen Active Years: 1924-1933
She married fur dealer, Arthur J. Klein in 1931. After divorcing him, it is reported that she married John Arthur in 1959. I can’t find any records regarding this marriage. She reportedly never had children. Marceline was very private about her personal life and didn’t grant interviews after she retired from acting in 1933.
WAMPAS Baby Star of 1926
Died: February 16, 2000, Cathedral City, CA
Age: 91
Cause: natural causes
Interred: cremated
 1933 The Fighting Parson

1933 By Appointment Only

1933 The Flaming Signal

1933 Damaged Lives

1933 The Telegraph Trail

1933 Via Pony Express

1932 The Crusader

1932 The King Murder

1932 Broadway to Cheyenne

1932 Arm of the Law

1932 The Fighting Fool

1931 The Pocatello Kid

1931 The Mad Parade

1931 The Mystery Train

1931 The Sky Raiders

1930 Paradise Island

1930 Hot Curves

1930 Sunny Skies

1930 Temple Tower

1930 The Voice of Hollywood No. 9 (Short)

1929 The Show of Shows

1929 The One Woman Idea

1929 The Wild Party

1929 Trent’s Last Case

1929 A Single Man

1928 Stolen Love

1928 Restless Youth

1928 Driftwood

1928 Freedom of the Press

1928 The Cameraman

1928 Detectives

1928 A Certain Young Man

1928 The Big City

1928 Under the Black Eagle

1927 London After Midnight

1927 The Road to Romance

1927 Captain Salvation

1927 Rookies

1927 Red Clay

1927 The Beloved Rogue

1926 College Days

1926 That Model from Paris

1926 Fools of Fashion

1926 The Gay Deceiver

1926 The Boy Friend

1926 Looking for Trouble

1926 The Barrier

1926 Hell’s Four Hundred

1926 Western Pluck

1925 The Splendid Road

1925 The Wall Street Whiz

1925 The White Outlaw

1925 The Party (Short)

1925 His New Suit (Short)

1925 Short Pants (Short)

1925 Discord in ‘A’ Flat (Short)

1925 Heart Trouble (Short)

1925 Renegade Holmes, M.D.

1925 The Taming of the West

1924 The Hansom Cabman (Short)

1924 The Luck o’ the Foolish (Short)

1924 Black Oxfords (Short)

1924 Picking Peaches (Short)

Marceline Day

Dorothy Dwan

Dorothy DwanName: Dorothy Dwan
Birth Name: Dorothy Belle Ilgenfritz
Born: April 26, 1906, Sedalia, MO
Father: Charles Melvin Ilgenfritz (1885-1942)
Mother: Nancy Dorothy Wallace (1886-1943)
Siblings: none
On-Screen Active Years: 1922-1930
She married actor/comedian Larry Semon in 1925 and they were married until his death in October of 1928. She married Paul Northcutt Boggs Jr. in 1930. They had one son together, Paul Worthcott Boggs (later know as Paul Boggs Crikelair) (1931-2010). She and Boggs divorced in 1935. Her last husband was Fred Buckels. Not much is known about this marriage, but it is reported to have ended in divorce. Her legal name when she died was Dorothy Buckels.
She took her stage name from silent film director Allan Dwan, whose work she apparently admired.
Died: March 17, 1981, Ventura, CA
Age: 74
Cause: lung cancer
Interred: n/a
1930 The Fighting Legion

1930 Hide-Out

1929 The Drifter

1929 The Peacock Fan

1929 The California Mail

1929 The Devil Bear

1928 Out with the Tide

1928 Obey Your Husband

1928 The Virgin Queen (Short)

1928 Riders of the Dark

1928 Square Crooks

1927 Silver Valley

1927 Tumbling River

1927 The Land Beyond the Law

1927 Spuds

1927 The Princess on Broadway

1927 Hills of Kentucky

1927 McFadden’s Flats

1926 The Canyon of Light

1926 A Captain’s Courage

1926 The Great K & A Train Robbery

1926 The Call of the Klondike

1926 The Dangerous Dude

1926 Perils of the Coast Guard

1926 Stop, Look and Listen

1925 My Best Girl

1925 The Perfect Clown

1925 Bashful Buccaneer

1925 The Cloudhopper (Short)

1925 The Dome Doctor (Short)

1925 The Wizard of Oz

1925 The Parasite

1924 Breed of the Border

1924 Kid Speed (Short)

1924 Her Boy Friend (Short)

1924 Sinners in Silk

1924 The Enemy Sex

1924 Those Who Dance (uncredited)

1922 The Silent Vow

Dorothy Dwan

Alma Rubens

Alma RubensName: Alma Rubens
Birth Name: Alma Genevieve Rueben
Born: February 19, 1897, San Francisco, CA
Father: John Rueben (1868-1916)
Mother: Theresa Hayes (1871-1940)
Siblings: Hazel Rueben (ca. 1892-1968)
Active On-Screen Years: 1913-1929
Married silent film actor Franklyn Farnum (1878-1961) in 1918 and they divorced in 1919. She then married screenwriter/film producer Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman (1881-1957) in 1923 and they divorced in 1925. She married silent film actor Ricardo Cortez (1900-1977) in 1926 and remained married to him until her death in 1931.
She became addicted to morphine in the mid 1920’s. This addiction resulted in treatments at multiple sanatariums. She made headlines in 1929 when she attempted to stab a nurse and threatened to kill herself. This addiction ended her career and effectively ended her life.
At the time of her death, she was in the process of suing for divorce from Ricardo Cortez.
Died: January 22, 1931, Los Angeles, CA
Age: 33
Cause: pneumonia
Interred: Ararat Cemetery, Fresno, CA
1913      Banzai

1914      Narcotic Spectre

1914      The Gangsters and the Girl

1915      The Birth of a Nation

1915      The Lorelei Madonna

1915      Peer Gynt

1915      A Woman’s Wiles

1916      Reggie Mixes In

1916      The Mystery of the Leaping Fish

1916      The Half-Breed

1916      Judith of the Cumberlands

1916      Intolerance

1916      The Children Pay

1916      The Americano

1917      Truthful Tolliver

1917      A Woman’s Awakening

1917      An Old Fashioned Young Man

1917      Master of His Home

1917      The Cold Deck

1917      The Firefly of Tough Luck

1917      The Regenerates

1917      The Gown of Destiny

1918      I Love You

1918      The Answer

1918      The Love Brokers

1918      Madame Sphinx

1918      The Painted Lily

1918      False Ambition

1918      The Ghost Flower

1919      Restless Souls

1919      Diane of the Green Van

1919      A Man’s Country

1920      Humoresque

1920      The World and His Wife

1920      Thoughtless Women

1922      Find the Woman

1922      The Valley of Silent Men

1923      Enemies of Women

1923      Under the Red Robe

1924      Week End Husbands

1924      The Rejected Woman

1924      Cytherea

1924      The Price She Paid

1924      Gerald Cranston’s Lady

1924      Is Love Everything?

1925      The Dancers

1925      She Wolves

1925      A Woman’s Faith

1925      Fine Clothes

1925      The Winding Stair

1925      East Lynne

1926      The Gilded Butterfly

1926      Siberia

1926      Marriage License?

1927      One Increasing Purpose

1927      Heart of Salome

1928      The Masks of the Devil

1929      Show Boat

1929      She Goes to War

Alma Rubens

Billie Dove

Billie DoveName: Billie Dove
Birth Name: Bertha L. Bohny (later legally changed to Lillian)
Born: May 14, 1903, New York, New York
Father: Charles Bohny (1870-unknown)
Mother: Bertha Kagl (1883-1972)
Siblings: Charles Reinhardt Bohny (1906-1963)
Active On-Screen Years: 1921-1932
Married film director Irvin Willat (1890-1976) in 1923 and divorced him in 1929. In 1933 she married oil executive Robert Kenaston (1908-1973). They were married until 1970. They had a son, Robert Alan Jr. (1934-1995) and an adopted daughter, Gail Melinda (b. 1938). Billie later had a brief third marriage to an architect, John Miller, which ended in divorce in 1975. After her third divorce and Robert Kenaston’s death, Billie took the surname of Kenaston again.
Began her career on stage in the Ziegfeld Follies at the age of 14.
Started out in films as an extra in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
She was engaged to Howard Hughes, but called it off for a reason she would never disclose. According to Billie, Howard paid her then husband, Irvin Willat, $325,000 to divorce her. She said that she had begged Howard not to do it and that she felt like she “had been bought and sold”.
Won a walk-on appearance in Diamond Head in 1962 after she won a jingle writing contest.
Died: December 31, 1997, Santa Monica, CA
Age: 94
Cause: pneumonia
Interred: Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, CA
1921      Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford

1921      At the Stage Door

1922      Polly of the Follies

1922      Beyond the Rainbow

1922      Youth to Youth

1922      One Week of Love

1923      All the Brothers Were Valiant

1923      Madness of Youth

1923      Soft Boiled

1923      The Lone Star Ranger

1923      The Thrill Chaser

1924      On Time

1924      Try and Get It

1924      Yankee Madness

1924      Wanderer of the Wasteland

1924      The Roughneck

1924      Folly of Vanity

1925      The Air Mail

1925      The Light of Western Stars

1925      Wild Horse Mesa

1925      The Lucky Horseshoe

1925      The Fighting Heart

1925      The Ancient Highway

1926      The Black Pirate

1926      The Lone Wolf Returns

1926      The Marriage Clause

1926      Kid Boots

1927      An Affair of the Follies

1927      Sensation Seekers

1927      The Tender Hour

1927      The Stolen Bride

1927      The American Beauty

1927      The Love Mart

1928      The Heart of a Follies Girl

1928      Yellow Lily

1928      Night Watch

1928      Adoration

1929      Careers

1929      The Man and the Moment

1929      Her Private Life

1929      The Painted Angel

1930      The Other Tomorrow

1930      A Notorious Affair

1930      Sweethearts and Wives

1930      One Night at Susie’s

1931      The Lady Who Dared

1931      The Age for Love

1932      Cock of the Air

1932      Blondie of the Follies

1962      Diamond Head (cameo role)

Billie Dove