Dear Reader #179

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s eighteenth movie wasEve’s Lover, produced during the early months of 1925 and released on 6 July, 1925. Clara played Rena D’Arcy. This was one of Clara’s ‘loan-out’ movies. She was not the lead actress in this movie, yet her image featured on the lobby cards. Another example of how Clara upstaged everyone, regardless of her status in any given movie.


Born this week, 3 February 1813, in Margam, Wales, my 3 x great grandmother Ann David. Out of wedlock, Ann gave birth to a son, Evan Lewis. In 1847, Ann married a widower, David Jones and they produced two daughters, Mary and Ann. Mary died, aged 70, in an asylum, while Ann married my 2 x great grandfather, William Howe. In the 1880s, their son, and my great grandfather, William Howe acknowledged Evan Lewis as a member of the family by recording his…

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Dear Reader #175

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s fourteenth movie wasBlack Lightning.The movie, produced during the Fall of 1924 and released on December 8, 1924, starred Thunder the Marvel Dog, supported by Clara Bow and “An All Star Cast”.

Thunder the Marvel Dog was a male German Shepherd that appeared in movies between 1923 and 1927. During this era, he had plenty of canine ‘rivals’ including Peter the Great, Napoleon, Rex, Strongheart and, more famously, Rin Tin Tin.

Clara loved dogs. However, the plot of this movie was convoluted and, given her ambitious, she could not have been happy as a support player to a dog. Greater days lay ahead, but at this stage of her career Clara was certainly paying her dues as she made her way in Hollywood.

Frances Gifford’s acting career blossomed in the 1930s and 1940s. Her breakthrough arrived in 1941 when she was cast as Nyoka in…

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Golden Age Actresses #2

Hannah Howe

Born on November 19, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York, to a wealthy insurance broker and a socialite mother, Gene Tierney enjoyed a privileged upbringing, which included exclusive schools, extensive travel and glamorous parties. She caught the eye of Hollywood talent scouts and they offered her a contract.

As a teenager, Gene Tierney endured a mind-numbing season of debutante parties. At the close of the season, she informed her parents of her desire to carve out a career as an actress. Initially reluctant, her parents offered their support. Her father, Howard, secured mentoring and schooling, and he formed a company, toassist Gene in her ambitions.

With Gene Tierney’s star on the rise, eccentric movie mogul Howard Hughes entered the picture. He was besotted with her beauty. However, as she later pointed out, “Cars, furs and gems were not my weakness.” And she rebuffed Hughes. Despite the rebuff, Howard Hughes remained friends…

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Dear Reader #174

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s thirteenth movie wasThis Woman, produced during the summer of 1924.This Womanwent on general release from November 2, 1924. Clara was very much a ‘jobbing’ actress at this stage, appearing in bit parts. She was listed eighth (out of nine) on the bill. To add insult to injury, the New York Times miscredited her as ‘Clare Bow’.

This Womanran for seventy minutes and was released by Warner Bros. Clara played Aline Sturdevant, a jealous young lover. The movie was considered lost, but a complete print can be found at Lobster Films, Paris.

Joan Woodbury (December 17, 1915 – February 22, 1989) enjoyed an acting career that began in the 1930s and lasted well into the 1960s. She appeared in B-movies and as the heroine opposite cowboy actors such as Roy Rogers.

Joan appeared in fifty films between 1937 and 1945. Her most…

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Golden Age Actresses #1

Hannah Howe

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford(April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979) enjoyed a career that spanned five decades. A movie pioneer, she co-founded Pickford-Fairbanks Studios and United Artists. Furthermore, she was one of the thirty-six founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

During her career, Mary Pickford was known as “America’s Sweetheart”, “The Girl with the Curls”, and the “Queen of Movies”. One of the earliest stars to receive a billing under her own name, Mary enjoyed great popularity in the silent movie era of the 1910s and 1920s.

Mary Pickford defined theingénuerolein motion pictures. She received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound movie role as Norma Besant inCoquette, 1929. However, the arrival of the “talkies” signalled a decline in her career.

In 1909, Mary Pickford appeared in fifty-one films, most of them shorts. She starred in fifty-two…

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Dear Reader #173

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s twelfth movie was Empty Hearts, produced during the summer of 1924 and released on September 15, 1924. Fourth on the bill, Clara played Rosalie. 

A drama, the plot ofEmpty Heartscentred on a blackmail letter, relationships, and misunderstandings. The screenplay was based on a story written by Evelyn Campbell a screenwriter, author and actress active during Hollywood’s silent era. Evelyn also wrote Westerns.

At this stage of Clara’s career, B.P. Schulberg was loaning her out to various studios. Indeed, not one of her eight movies made in 1924 was produced by Schulberg. On the whole, these movies were beneath Clara’s talent, and she must have felt frustrated.

Serial Stars

Kay Aldridge

Although she was screen-tested for the part of Scarlett O’Hara inGone with the Wind, Kay Aldridge made her name as a heroine in serials. She starred as Nyoka Gordon inPerils…

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Dear Reader #169

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

By 1924 film producer B.P. Schulberg was guiding Clara Bow’s career. Under his guidance, she made her eighth movie,Poisoned Paradise: The Forbidden Story of Monte Carlo, a silent romantic drama.

Clara played Margot Le Blanc. Left a small fortune by her foster mother, Margot goes to Monte Carlo and loses the fortune gambling. She finds support, and love, from an artist, Hugh Kildair.

Throughout her life, Clara needed sound people around her to guide her. At this time, she had Schulberg along with her agent, Maxine Alton. However, an affair between Alton and Schulberg shattered Clara’s confidence in them. Clara was trusting and naïve, and it’s fair to say that Alton and Schulberg exploited her trust and naivety.

🖼Lobby card forPoisoned Paradise

Highest Grossing Movie of 1928 (joint)The Singing Fool.

A part-talkie musical melodrama,The Singing Foolstarred Al Jolson. Following hot on…

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Dear Reader #168

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s seventh movie wasBlack Oxena silent fantasy/romantic drama produced during October 1923 and released on December 29, 1923 in San Francisco.

Black Oxen starred Corrine Griffith and Conway Tearle. Corinne Griffith was one of the big names of the day. As well as a successful acting career, she also excelled as a producer, author and businesswoman. Dubbed ‘The Orchid Lady of the Screen’, she was widely regarded as one of the most beautiful actresses of the silent era.

Clara excelled in this movie to the extent that she gained more parts immediately, and the studio quadrupled her salary to $200 a week, the equivalent of $2,900 today.

📸Clara Bow as Janet Oglethorpe, the flapper inBlack Oxen, holding a copy ofFlaming Youth. Also pictured, Kate Lester and Tom Ricketts.

Highest Grossing Movie of 1927,Wings.

A silent war movie…

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Dear Reader #167

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s sixth movie was Maytime, a silent romantic drama produced during August and September 1923 and released on December 11, 1923. The movie starred Ethel Shannon, Harrison Ford and William Norris, with Clara fourth on the bill playing Alice Tremaine. 

After a stunning screen test, producer B.P. Schulberg gave Clara the part of Alice inMaytime. Within a week, the film’s crew were urging Schulberg to ditch Ethel Shannon and give Clara the lead role. He didn’t. Nevertheless, Clara had made her point and established her breakthrough.

📸Clara Bow and Ethel Shannon inMaytime.

Highest Grossing Movie of 1926,For Heaven’s Sake.

A silent comedy,For Heaven’s Sakestarred Harold Lloyd and was directed by Sam Taylor. The movie was a great success for Lloyd and earned $2,600,000 at the box office, which made it the twelfth highest grossing film of the silent…

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Dear Reader #166

Hannah Howe

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s fifth movie was Grit, a silent drama produced in the summer of 1923 in New York, and released on January 7, 1924. Adapted from a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Grit featured Clara as a sexy street urchin, Orchid McGonigle.

Clara impressed director Frank Tuttle, especially with her ability to produce emotion at will. He said, “This dynamic and erratic whirlwind was a joy to her director.”

Gritwas a tale of cowardice and revenge set on New York’s Lower East Side. Fitzgerald said of the film, “The whole picture is sordid, showing disgusting scenes of immorality and crime.” The censors demanded cuts, and they were duly made. Despite those cuts,Gritwas still banned by the British Board of Film Censors.

Clara saw Orchid as the embodiment of herself. “A little roughneck and a tomboy like I was.” The critics panned the film. However,Varietyadded…

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