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Divas of the 1920s and 30s

Who did the early 20th-century gays idolize?

Clara Bow? Mae West? Mary Pickford?

Who was the most beautiful, talented, strong or tragic? Who was all four?

Why are they forgotten?

by Anonymousreply 7604/04/2013

oh god, give it up op.

by Anonymousreply 111/27/2010

I'd say Clara Bow and maybe Theda Bara... I think Mary Pickford could do it all.

by Anonymousreply 211/27/2010

Greta Garbo

by Anonymousreply 311/27/2010

Drag parties where all the guests dressed up like Lou Henry Hoover were the rage in smart gay circles.%0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 411/27/2010

Jean Harlow

by Anonymousreply 511/27/2010

Going back slightly further, it was Sarah Bernhardt all the way. The gays loved her.

by Anonymousreply 611/27/2010

I found a stash of movie magazine clippings and postcards in the basement of my work. Most of them are pre-1920. Most are from 1915-18. And I noticed an unusual amount of clippings about Lottie Pickford, Mary's party-girl sister. I looked her up and it appears her films are lost or destroyed.

Anyway, I imagined that some 1900's gay guy clipped them out and saved them because who else would see the value of America's sweetheart's Hell-cat sister.

by Anonymousreply 711/27/2010

Don't forget Zasu Pitts!

by Anonymousreply 811/27/2010

My name is Jean Harlot, the 't' is silent.

by Anonymousreply 911/27/2010

Miss Greta Garbo was ominipotent in this era. She was almost Christ like in her impact, with Fellini later declaring her "the foundress of that religious order we now know as cinema".

by Anonymousreply 1011/27/2010

Tallulah dahling, but she's not forgotten.

by Anonymousreply 1111/27/2010

Quentin Crisp saw Tallulah on the London stage, I believe in the late 20s.

by Anonymousreply 1211/27/2010

Barbara La Marr - but she OD'd.

by Anonymousreply 1311/27/2010

Sophie Tucker

by Anonymousreply 1411/27/2010

Clara actually was beautiful, talented, and tragic.

Mae and Mary were strong.

Older films, let alone silents, just aren't appreciated by the last few generations.

by Anonymousreply 1511/27/2010

You'd be surprised at how many young people do, actually watch old films. Still the minority but it is happening.

by Anonymousreply 1611/27/2010

Gloria Swanson

by Anonymousreply 1711/27/2010

Good call, r17. She and Valentino had an entire episode dedicated to them in the classic documentary "Hollywood"!

Here you my dears:

by Anonymousreply 1811/27/2010

Was reading about Barbara La Marr. She seemed to be pretty famous during her time but is really not known today (other than Hedy Lamar being named after her).

by Anonymousreply 1911/27/2010

thanks, r18.

by Anonymousreply 2011/27/2010

Libby Holman.

by Anonymousreply 2111/27/2010

%0D Maud Adams. The actress whom Somewhere In Time was based on. %0D %0D However, when I read about her, it looks to me like she was a lesbian. Very interesting woman.

by Anonymousreply 2211/27/2010

Tallulah was popular with lesbians earlier in her career, gay men later on.

Alla Nazimova was loved by the gays, as was Valentino.

by Anonymousreply 2311/27/2010

Geez, people...%0D %0D Alla Nazimova. The one true Gay Icon og the 1920's.

by Anonymousreply 2411/27/2010

Faye Templeton was the bee's knees on Broadway in the 20's and 30's!

by Anonymousreply 2511/27/2010

Laurette Taylor.

by Anonymousreply 2611/27/2010

Jeanne Eagels

by Anonymousreply 2711/27/2010

Another one....%0D %0D Alma Rubens.

by Anonymousreply 2811/27/2010

wrong, R26. Laurette was lost at the bottom of a gin bottle during these decades. Nobody gave a shit about her.

by Anonymousreply 2911/27/2010

Those silent stars had the most amazing names: Vilma Banky, Pola Negri, Natacha Rambova. Alla Nazimova....

by Anonymousreply 3011/27/2010

Rod LaRoque is a terrific porn name.

by Anonymousreply 3111/27/2010

Jetta Goudal!

by Anonymousreply 3211/27/2010

Enid ignored me. *sniff*

by Anonymousreply 3311/27/2010

Didn't Tallulah say Pola was "a lying lezbo, a Polish publicity hound -- bald as a billiard cue, with a moustache to boot!"

by Anonymousreply 3411/27/2010

I agree, R30. Vilma Banky is my favorite. It seems to capture that time so well.

by Anonymousreply 3511/27/2010

Damn, R33, I am soory. I missed that. In any event, what you say we crack a bottle of good wine and watch "Salome?"

by Anonymousreply 3611/27/2010

Good Lord you are all off the charts. Valentino was certainly idolized as was Wallace Reid, but it was Dietrich who took the prize.

by Anonymousreply 3711/27/2010

Carole Lombard

by Anonymousreply 3811/28/2010

Suzanne Lenglen and Helen Wills.

by Anonymousreply 3911/28/2010

Opera singer Geraldine Farrar was the most famous Diva of the 1920's.

by Anonymousreply 4011/28/2010

r18 thank you for posting that documentary. I stayed up up well into the night watching it. I think I remember seeing it as a youth. %0D %0D Adela Rogers St. Johns was hilarious! Hard to believe but I don't know if she's ever been discussed here. What was her story? Was she a gossip columnist in the 20s? %0D %0D What is the gorgeous theme music that is used with the opening and closing credits? I'll be embarrassed if it's something classic and famous. Beautifully edited clips!

by Anonymousreply 4111/28/2010

R18: Thanks for posting that. I know nothing about Gloria Swanson except Sunset Blvd.

I can't believe she did a scene with a live lion that she let lie on her back!


by Anonymousreply 4211/28/2010


by Anonymousreply 4311/28/2010


by Anonymousreply 4411/28/2010

r29, have the prickly hairs on the back of your neck stood up yet? Wait for it... that's her.

by Anonymousreply 4511/28/2010

R18: Just finished watching the clips.

Annoying who they so strenuously heterosexualize Valentino.

by Anonymousreply 4611/28/2010

If you've never seen it, Nazimova's "Salome" really is pretty amazing. Supposedly Nazimova hired an all-gay cast for her stylized, experimental film based on the Aubrey Beardsley illustrations for Oscar Wilde's play. One of the actors was interviewed years later and asked whether that was true. He said they weren't ALL gay, but yes most of the cast was either gay or bi.

To me the stills always looked sort of silly but when you see it in motion, with the lighting and costumes, it's as striking as anything from German or Russian silent films.

by Anonymousreply 4711/28/2010

R37's right. It was Dietrich.

by Anonymousreply 4811/28/2010

Another thanks to R18 for the link.%0D %0D Swanson had the oddest face. She's not pretty at all, but I've never seen anyone else who looked like her. Even when she's young, she looks 50.

by Anonymousreply 4911/28/2010

It is possible that more than one was idolized. In fact I think that is the case here.

by Anonymousreply 5011/28/2010

But actually watching all those clips of Valentino, both in films and newsreels, I'd have to say he didn't really ping for me. %0D %0D I was also surprised to realize how very short his fame lasted (1921-1926) and how few films he made once his stardom was sounded like far less than a dozen.

by Anonymousreply 5111/28/2010

An actress who probably would have been one of the major divas of the twenties was Olive Thomas. She was astonishingly beautiful (her pictures don't always convey this), lived a wild life and died young from a drug overdose. %0D %0D She came from humble beginnings in Pittsburgh. She left school at 15 to help support her family. She went to stay with a family friend in NY and worked in a department store. She answered a newspaper ad and entered a "Most Beautiful Girl In New York" contest and won. After that she became an artist's model and eventually a Ziegfield Follies girl. Alberto Vargas did a famous painting of her where she was nude from the waist up, with a rose in one hand and the other hand caressing her breast. %0D %0D She was a popular star in silent films and had signed a contract with Selznick Picture Company. She was the first actress to be described as a "flapper." It appeared that she was one her way to becoming one of the biggest film stars of her era. %0D %0D She was known as being wild, getting a reputation for her unrestrained partying and drinking and sleeping around. She married Jack Pickford, Mary's brother. Jack Pickford was a worthless piece of shit, but they both share a love of booze and hell-raising.%0D %0D They were on a vacation in Paris and had spent most of the night partying and getting sloshed. They got home at 3:00; sometime during the night Olive took mercury bichloride (which had been prescribed for her husband for his chronic syphillis) from the medicine cabinet and injested it. The rumors were rampant: how could that happen? Supposedly she took pills, an overdose of them. Then it was said she took it in liquid form from a flask she assumed had water or sleeping pills in it. Who gets water from a flask in a medicine cabinet? And why would sleeping pills be in liquid form? Was she she drunk she just grabbed something and drank from it? Did she drink the stuff of purpose to commit suicide? To this day, it's not know exactly what happened.%0D %0D She didn't die quickly. She lasted a few days; it was a slow, painful death. The mercury bichloride burned through her vocal chords rendering her mute. She went blind. And finally died, aged 25, on the brink of major movie stardom. %0D %0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 5211/28/2010

No mention of the Gish sisters?

by Anonymousreply 5311/28/2010

Mae Murray%0D %0D From about 1:50 on.

by Anonymousreply 5411/28/2010

Nita Naldi

by Anonymousreply 5511/29/2010

R54, that was nice until you think about the last portion of her life. If there is one thing that Mae Murray has taught us is to never let a partner/spouse dictate your career. Really sad watching that. But then I watch the video of Marion Davies imitating her and the sadness goes away.

by Anonymousreply 5611/29/2010


by Anonymousreply 5702/20/2013

Gloria Swanson's home in Groton, New York

by Anonymousreply 5802/20/2013


by Anonymousreply 5902/20/2013

I'm sure Gloria Swanson drove a lot of Jazz Age queens wild. She was probably akin to Barbra Streisand in the 1920s.

by Anonymousreply 6002/20/2013

R60, lol i loved your comment

Below there is a photo of Gloria Swanson...hmmm...

by Anonymousreply 6102/20/2013


by Anonymousreply 6202/20/2013

Other well-known names:

Clara Bow

Mabel Normand

Eleanor Boardman

Colleen Moore

Louise Brooks

Agnes Ayres

by Anonymousreply 6302/20/2013

Anna May Wong Blanche Sweet Renee Adoree

by Anonymousreply 6402/20/2013

Constance Bennett with her voice and the way she wore clothes, had to be a gay icon.

by Anonymousreply 6502/20/2013

The graceful lines achieved through clever draping makes this formal gown worn by Gloria Swanson unusually distinctive.

by Anonymousreply 6602/20/2013

Alla Nazimova, Marlene Dietrich, Rudolph Valentino, Mae West

by Anonymousreply 6702/20/2013

Lily Garland.

The most fabulous, by far.

by Anonymousreply 6802/20/2013

Louise Brooks

by Anonymousreply 6904/03/2013

A tribute to the real silent screen divas.

by Anonymousreply 7004/04/2013

Josephine Baker

Isadora Duncan

Mata Hari

by Anonymousreply 7104/04/2013

Of course there were many great stars of that era- but you should know that the word "diva" was used pretty exclusively for supremely gifted female opera singers. It is only recenlty that the word is being tossed around for celebrities, even those with little talent.

The word "superstar" started to come into use in the press after a cover story on Barbra Streisand in Newsweek in 1970 with a glamour shot of her and the heading "Superstar" on the cover. She was called this at that time because of her unique success in all media and settings- stage, screen, recording, television, concert... and because of her huge talent. The word diva was not applied to her until much later.

Garbo, Hepburn, Davis would all be divas of the 1930s using the 2013 meaning of the word. Even Rudolf Valentino would quality using today's definition.

by Anonymousreply 7204/04/2013


by Anonymousreply 7304/04/2013

If you'd be willing to go back another ten years, and make it the most popular and beloved stage actress... that would be Maude Adams.

Wonderful human being and terrific actress. (Actress that Somewhere In Time was loosely based on. Her agent was the famous one -Charles Frohman- that went down on the Lusitania.) Maude was the original Greta Garbo. She kept her life very private, but was known to be incredibly kind and generous. When she passed away, the clues were all there that she was gay.

by Anonymousreply 7404/04/2013

Forgot to link to Maud Adams info and pictures ....

I think her story would make a wonderful movie

by Anonymousreply 7504/04/2013

Maude Adams? She was no Lillian Russell. Now [italic]there[/italic] is a diva.

by Anonymousreply 7604/04/2013
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