"silent movies" "silent film" "silent
As much as it may sound like a stage name, Rod La
Rocque was actually his real name -- but more. His full name was
Roderick La Rocque de la Rour, logical since his father was French-Canadian.
He was born in Chicago and, by seven years of age, was performing
in stock theater. Living in Chicago, he found work with the Chicago-based
Essanay Studios, mostly in comedy shorts, but later graduating
to better roles. La Rocque stayed with the company from 1914 until
they went out of business in 1918. He moved to New York and began
work on the stage. Noticed by Samuel Goldwyn, he made three movies
for the producer in 1918 and later freelanced with companies such
as Famous Players-Lasky, Universal and Vitagraph. By the time
he got his big break with a part as one of two sons (Richard Dix
was the other son) of Martha McTavish (Edythe Chapman) in the
modern portion of Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments"
in 1923, La Rocque had appeared in over 30 features and a large
number of shorts. He went on to appear in over 25 more silents,
as well as 20+ films in the sound era before retiring in 1941.
His last film was Frank Capra's superb "Meet John Doe"
(1941) that starred Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. In his silent
films, La Rocque was usually the dapper gentleman, even when playing
comedy -- even though he moved easily from comedy to drama. La
Rocque married Vilma Banky in 1927 in one of Hollywood's most
publicized and lavish weddings. He had met her at a dinner party
at Cecil B. DeMille's home in 1925, and DeMille served as his
best man. One of Hollywood's most enduring marriages, Banky and
La Rocque were married for 42 years until his death in 1969.
Selected films of this star available for viewing:
The Ten Commandments (1923)
The Coming of Amos (1925)
The Cruise of the Jasper B (1926)
The Fighting Eagle (1927)
Captain Swagger (1928)
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