On This Day – January 28th

Eastern directorsToday we celebrate the birthdays of four men who were instrumental in shaping the history of Eastern European cinema.

Pyotr Chardynin (1872–1934)

One of Russia’s film pioneers, Chardynin was born in Simbirsk, Russian Empire on January 28th (Julian calendar), February 10th (Gregorian calendar). He started out as an actor on the stage, then moved on to films and finally to directing. He directed over 100 silent films. By the time the talkies arrived, Chardynin had been banned from directing by the Soviet regime. He died in the Ukraine on 14 August, 1934 of liver cancer.

Aleqsandre Tsutsunava (1881–1955)

Born in Likhauri, Georgia, Russian Empire (now Georgia) in 1881, Tsutsunava  was a well-known theater director. He directed the first Georgian, full-length feature film in 1909 called, ‘Berikaoba Keenoba’. The 1916 film, ‘Qristine’, also directed by Tsutsunava, is often credited as being the first feature film from Georgia . He continued directing until 1928. I’m not sure what happened after that. Perhaps with the advent of sound, he returned to the theater. Although sound took longer to come to Russia, so I really don’t know why the last film he is credited with came out in 1928. He died on 25 October, 1955 in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Zaqaria Berishvili (1887–1965)

Born in 1887, Berishvili was a film director and actor. He acted in the theater from 1905 until 1921, when he took part in the organization of the film section of the People’s Commissariat for Education in Georgia.  He played small roles in silent films throughout the mid-1920s. He directed his first film in 1926. He made the transition to sound and directed a few talkies in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1946 he focused his efforts on dubbing foreign films into Georgian. He was the Honored Artist of Georgia, SSR  in 1945 and then again in 1961. He died on May 9, 1965.

Eugen Illés (1877–1951) – no photo available

Also credited as Jenõ Illés, he was born in Debrecen, Hungary. He got a degree in Liberal Arts in Budapest, then in Mechanical Engineering in Berlin. By 1911 he was the lead director of the Berlin branch of Pathé. His 1918 film, ‘Mania: The History of a Cigarette Factory Worker’ starring Pola Negri was thought to be destroyed, when it turned up in a Czech movie collection in 2011. The Polish completely restored it and took the film on a world tour. Because of his ties to his native Hungary, he was also able to facilitate the distribution of Hungarian films in Germany. He returned to Hungary to produce nine films between 1915 and 1917. He came back to Germany during WWI and shot hours of documentary film. He returned to Hungary in 1919. He died in Budapest on 17 October, 1951.

On This Day – January 20th

Aileen Manning

Aileen Manning was born Aileen Casey on this day in Boulder, Colorado in 1886 to Robert Casey and Eliza Edgar. She only had one sibling, Leota, who died before Aileen was born at the age of 1 year 8 months.

In 1900, Aileen and her mother were living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She married around 1905. I can’t find any information about this marriage. By 1919, she and her mother were living in Los Angeles.  Her father had passed away and Aileen was divorced.

Aileen began acting in films in the late teens. Her paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Manning. I suspect this is where she got her stage name, a name she would officially keep for the rest of her life. Although she appeared in a number of films, her career never really took off. She was always cast in a supporting role, never the lead. She made a few talkies, but retired from the screen in 1931.

The 1930 US Census has Aileen living alone in Los Angeles and widowed. I don’t know if this is a mistake or if she married again and he passed away. There is little to no biographical information about her out there (at least that I can find).

By 1935, Aileen moved back to Colorado. She still listed her occupation as that of actress.  The 1940 census shows her living as a lodger in Colorado Springs and divorced.

She died on March 25, 1946 in Los Angeles. She was 60 years old.

On This Day – January 17th

Silent Film Fans wishes a Happy Birthday to:

January 17th birthdays!

Click on image to enlarge

On This Day – January 14

Bebe Daniels 1

Bebe Daniels was born Phyllis Virginia Daniels on this day in 1901 in Dallas, Texas.  Her father, Melville Daniel MacMeal (sometimes spelled McMeal or MacNeal) was a theater manager who went by the names Melville Daniels and Danny Daniels. Her mother, Pastora Engracia Griffin, who took the stage name Phyllis Griffin (1874-1959), was a theatrical actress who was born in Medellin, Antioquia State, Columbia, South America to an American father and Columbian mother.

Legend has it that Bebe’s first taste of stardom came at the age of 2 months, when her mother carried her onto the stage during a play in 1901 called  Jane.  Bebe did begin acting at a very young age and touring the country with her parents theatrical productions.

It wasn’t long before they came to Los Angeles and little Bebe got a part in a motion picture. As near as I can tell, her first real role came in 1910 with A Common Enemy for Selig-Polyscope. She continued to act in many shorts, one of which was The Wonderful Wizard of OZ where she played Dorothy.  In 1915, Hal Roach paired her with Harold Lloyd in the  “Lonesome Luke” series. (Incidentally, Hal Roach’s birthday is also January 14th.) She had a widely publicized courtship (thanks to Roach) with Lloyd even though she was only 14 and he was almost 22! As Bebe put it in an interview in 1929, “I was too young and he was too poor and by the time I was old enough and he was rich enough we had ceased to care.”

She made almost 200 shorts with Roach. When she turned 18, she was approached by Cecil B. DeMille and offered a contract with Paramount. She worked for Paramount and its subsidiary, Realart, from 1919-1928. She acted alongside some of the greatest leading men to ever grace the silver screen; Rudolph Valentino, John Gilbert, Wally Reid, William Powell, Rod la Rocque, just to name a few.

The advent of talkies allowed the studios to dump stars that they felt were underperforming at the box office, overpriced or just too difficult.  It was in 1928, that Paramount decided not to renew Bebe’s contract. Undeterred, she signed with William LeBaron at RKO Studios and made the musical Rio Rita, proving that not only was her voice fit for sound, but she could really sing too. Rio Rita was a huge success.  Paramount must have been kicking themselves for letting her go. She starred in four more films for RKO, before signing a contract with Warner Brothers and starring in such greats as The Maltese Falcon and 42nd Street.

Bebe married her costar, Ben Lyon, from her third talking film on 14 June 1930. They had a daughter, Barbara (1931-1995) who went on to become a singer and adopted a son, Richard (1934-2013), who went on to become an actor.

The Lyons were growing tired of Hollywood life.  Bebe had some trouble with what we would now call a stalker. They loved England and decided that they wanted to relocate to London. They got very involved in English theater and radio.  Bebe made a few British films. They opted to stay in England during the Blitz.  They returned to California for a short time after the war, but moved back and remained in England for good. Bebe, Ben and their two children all starred in the wildly popular British radio program called Life With The Lyons (1951-1961), which later made the transition to television.

After suffering from several severe strokes in the early 1960s, Bebe was pretty much forced to retire. She helped her son Richard run an antique shop in England.

She passed away on 16 March, 1971 of a cerebral hemorrhage in her home in London at the age of 70. Husband Ben was by her side. Her ashes are interred in the Chapel columbarium at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

Bebe Daniels

On This Day – January 12

Jane Novak

Jane Novak (Johana Barbara Novak) was born on this day in 1896 to Joseph and Barbara Novak. Her parents both immigrated to the United States from Bohemia, modern day Czech Republic. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri with her three sisters and two brothers. Her aunt was actress Anne Schaefer, who in 1915, invited Jane to come to California.

When she arrived in California, she met actor Frank Newburg. He took her to see her aunt who was performing in a Vitagraph production at the time. The director saw her and asked to her to be in a scene, she agreed and a star was born.  Her younger sister Eva soon joined her in California and she too began acting in films.

Jane and Frank  were married 1915. They had one daughter and divorced in 1920. The following year, she got engaged to the great western star William S. Hart, but that union never came to fruition. She never remarried.

In 1924 she and fellow actress Gertrude Ryan sailed for Europe, so that Jane could star in a British-German collaboration in Berlin called, The Blackguard (Die Prinzessin und der Geiger).  The film was written by Alfred Hitchcock and they became good friends.

Jane appeared in a few sound films, including a bit part in Alfred Hitchcock’s, Foreign Correspondent, in 1940.  In 1974, she published a cookbook comprised of her own recipes called, ‘Treasury of Chicken Cookery’.

She passed away in Woodland Hills, California on February 1, 1990 at the age of 94. Her sister Eva preceded her in death in 1988.

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.

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

On This Day – January 8

On this day in 1928, silent screen comedian Raymond Griffith, known for his trademark silk top hat, married stage & screen star Bertha Mann.  This was one of those rare unions that stood the test of time. They were married 29 years, until Raymond’s death in 1957.

The Griffiths

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