On This Day – January 10

January 10th Birthdays

The actors and actresses above were all born on this day, January 10th.  Happy birthday from Silent Film Fans!

Top row from left to right:

Lya de Putti (1897 or 1899 – 1931) Born in Austria-Hungary (modern day Slovakia), Lya enjoyed much success in German silent films acting alongside some of the biggest names in German cinema and being directed by such greats as Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau.  She came to the US in 1926 with the hopes of replicating her success in Europe. Alas, it was not meant to be. Sadly, she died at a young age of pneumonia,  following surgery to remove a chicken bone from her throat.

Francis X. Bushman (1883 – 1966) He was one of the first matinee idols, best remembered for his role opposite Ramon Navarro in Ben-Hur. His film career spanned 55 years (1911-1966). He found himself at the center of a scandal in 1918 when the public learned that he’d cheated on his wife of 16 years with actress Beverly Bayne. His wife divorced him and he married Bayne. The studio kept the marriage a secret fearing that it would affect his box office draw. He and Bayne divorced and he married two more times and had six children, three boys and three girls. His son Ralph Everly Bushman (1903–1978) had a film career from the 1920s through the 1940s. He was often billed as “Francis X. Bushman, Jr.” Another son, Bruce Bushman, was an art director and designer for Walt Disney’s animation studio.

Diana Kane (1901 – 1977) Diana was one of four sisters who appeared in silent films, Constance Lewis, Janice Wilson and the most famous Lois Wilson.  She married silent film director George Fitzmaurice in 1927. They had one daughter, Sheila, in 1929.

Douglas MacLean (1890 – 1967) Born Charles Douglas MacLean, he began his career in silent film in 1914. He made one talkie and then retired to become a movie writer/producer. He was married four times, one wife being silent film bit actress Barbara Barondess.

Bottom row left to right:

Pauline Starke (1901 – 1977) Her first role was as an extra in D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance in 1916. She was chosen to be a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1922.  She married silent film producer Jack White in 1927 and divorced him 1931.  According to a Palm Beach Post-Times article dated February 27, 1938, Pauline announced that she had married actor George Sherwood in New York on May 4, 1935 and that she was “contemplating getting a divorce from him soon”. Now this is where it gets confusing. I found an article in the Lewiston Evening Journal dated June 23, 1918 that discusses how film writer George Sherwood and his actress wife, the former Pauline Starke of films, had their schooner burglarized.  Another article in the Daily Reporter dated May 8, 1955 talks about how former silent film actress Pauline Starke and her ex-husband George Sherwood had left Hollywood for a six month stay in India and that “pals predict they will remarry”.  This timeline doesn’t make sense, unless they were married more than once. An article regarding her marriage to White mentions that neither had been married before. Of course, you can’t believe everything you read! If anyone has a clearer version of events, I’m all ears.

Olaf Storm (1894 – 1931) He was born in Denmark and made films in Germany. He had leading roles in various German silent films as well as small roles in F.W. Murnau’s, Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh) and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. He founded his own film company around 1921 called, Olaf-Film-GmbH. There isn’t a lot of information out there about him. His on-screen career appears to have gone from 1919-1927. It is uncertain why he stopped making films and even more uncertain as to why he passed away in 1931 at the young age of 37. If anyone knows anything more about him, please let me know.

Pina Menichelli (1890 – 1984)  She was born in Italy and started out on the stage there. After bit parts in films, she was discovered by Italian film pioneer, Giovanni Pastrone, who cast her in the leading role in his film, Il Fuoco (The Fire) 1919. She became an overnight sensation. Famous for her strange vamp roles, she continued to gain success until an abrupt retirement in 1924. She reportedly destroyed everything she had relating to her career as an actress and never looked back.

Virginia Valli (1898 – 1968) She began her career as a dancer on the stage. Reportedly a director at Essanay Studios needed a dancer and after seeing her perform offered her the part. She married theatrical agent Demarest Lamson in 1921 and divorced him on 1926. She married silent film actor Charles Farrell in 1931 and retired from acting that same year. She and Charles were married until her death in 1968.

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