Monday, September 8, 2008

Silent Star Anita Page Passes On

Anita Page, whose acting career spanned from the Silent Era to the 21st century, passed yesterday, at the age of 98.

Anita Page was born on August 4, 1910 in Flushing, New York. In 1925, when she was only 15, she received her first role in a film, although it was uncredited, in A Kiss for Cinderella. She had gotten the role through silent star Betty Bronson, whose's family was close to Page's family. She played a few more uncredited roles in films until she received her first credited part as the female lead in Telling the World in 1928. She would appear in such silents as Our Dancing Daughters (opposite Joan Crawford), While the City Sleeps (with Lon Chaney), and The Flying Fleet.

In 1929 she starred in her first talkie, The Broadway Melody, the very first Hollywood musical. From 1929 into the Thirties she starred in such films as Free and Easy (opposite Buster Keaton), Skyscraper Souls, War Nurse, Prosperity, and Hitch Hike to Heaven. In 1929, at the height of her fame, she received over 10,000 fan letters a week, surpassed only by Greta Garbo.

Page retired at the height of her fame in 1933, coming out of retirement in 1936 to make the British film Hitch Hike to Heaven. In an interview with Scott Feinberg in 2004, Page claimed her retirement was actually because she would not give into the sexual advances of MGM head of production Irving Thalberg and studio chief Louis B. Mayer. In her retirement Page would marry a Navy pilot and raise a family. Her husband died in 1991.

Page would come out of retirement for the movie Saint Mike in 1960. She made a full fledge return to film in 1996 with a part in the thriller Sunset After Dark. Page would go onto appear in the films Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood and Bob's Night Out. Her last film appearance was a cameo in the soon to be released Frankenstein Rising.

Page was one of the very few silent stars to live into the 21st century, let alone act in films. She was also the last living person to attend the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.

Anita Page was not only a very beautiful actress, but a talented one whose talent was often underestimated. She had a true gift for comedy, although she was equally talented at drama. Her performance in The Broadway Melody is notable, giving as good a performance as co-star Bessie Love (who received an Oscar nomination, while Page did not). She was truly one of the great stars of the late Silent Era and the early Thirties.

1 comment:

dennis said...

Dennis used to collect Buster Keaton misc, and NYC misc when he was a younster. -- had posters from the movie "Sidewalks of NY" --one is a cartoon image but the other had Keaton and (I think Anita Page???) on it, sort of photo turned into art-- (something like Edward Hopper's style)