Friday, October 8, 2010

Anita Page (1910-2008)

The American born actress who was of Spanish ancestry started her career in Silent movies in 1924 as an extra.  Thanks to her friend Betty Bronson (post on Betty to follow) she was given a break and quickly given bigger roles one of which was in "Our Dancing Daughters" 1928.  The movie is quite memorable for the wild party and the tabletop dance scenes with co-star Joan Crawford.  Dancing down stairs and on table tops never looked so glamorous or fun.   I can only imagine the atmosphere on set that day.  Even though the film was made specifically for Joan Crawford I think Anita steals the attention with her drunken scene which ends with a fall down the staircase to her death. (It's hard to pull off evil, jealous, and drunkenness without sound but Ms. Page pulls it off quite convincingly). When I think of women as  flappers "Our Dancing Daughters" always comes to mind. It became a well known term to describe women in the 1920's who we're carefree, outlandish with their smoking and drinking and being seen out at Jazz Clubs all hours of the night.

Dorothy Sebastian, Joan Crawford and Anita Page in "Our Dancing Daughters" 1928

Anita and Joan went on to star together in "Our Modern Maidens" 1929 and "Our Blushing Brides" 1930.  The talkies we're soon to follow which we know Joan Crawford transitioned to with much success.  Anita announced her retirement from acting in 1933 after making a couple more movies.  She retired at the ripe old age of 23.  It's not certain if she fell victim to the introduction of sound like so many of her fellow Silent Screen actors but she retired after her MGM contract came to an end in 1932.

 During a 2004 interview when asked about her 60 year retirement, Anita stated that she refused sexual demands from famous MGM Production Head Irving Thalberg (He was married to actress Norma Shearer at the time).  Studio chief Louis B Mayor banned together with Thalberg and used his power within the industry to have Anita banned from working with any other studio.  (It's nice to know that working actresses today don't have to suffer through what young actresses so often dealt with in the early days in the industry).  You can read more on Mr. Mayors shenanigans in the Esther Ralston post.

with Conrad Nagel 

Anita married composer Herb Brown in 1934 but their marriage was annulled a year later due to his not having divorced his previous wife. (Anita and Herb never lived together due to his "situation").  Anita married a second time in 1937 to Lieutenant Hershel House, a Navy pilot and relocated to Coronado, CA.  They remained married until his death in 1991 and had two daughters together. You might think that Anita was through with acting after a 60 year break but she left retirement in 1996, appearing in a couple B rated Horror films.

Ms Page was buried in the Holy Cross cemetery San Diego, CA. Anita lived to the age of 98 and at the time of her death in 2008 she was the last living silent screen "star". Anita Page's resting place can be viewed HERE

click on autograph and photographs for a larger view

Fun Anita Page Facts:

She played Clark Gables first on screen love interest in "The Easiest Way" 1931.

She could still fit into her dresses from the 1920's late into her 80's. 

At the height of her stardom during the 1920's Anita received over 10,000 fan letters a week, 2nd only to Greta Garbo.  Her most famous admirer was Mussolini who wrote her over a hundred letters and asked for her hand in marriage.  (I can only imagine her reaction to this).

She was the last living attendee to the first Academy Awards in 1929.

Up until her death she still enjoyed watching her old movies.

It would be lovely if this was one of the dresses Anita still had and could fit into.

in front of her Beverly Hills Home

*Unless stated otherwise all autographs or ads are from my personal collection
Until next time take a moment to dance around and find time for yourself even if you aren't surrounded by a stage crew or flappers,

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