"silent movies" "silent
film" "silent era"
Born Donna Dooley April 1, 1897 in New York. Naldi
began modeling in her teens and made her first appearance on stage
in "The Passing Show of 1918." Before her famous appearance
in John Barrymore's "Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1920), Naldi had appeared in a
few films including a Johnny Dooley comedy. "Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde" was filmed in New York, so, upon completion of
the film, she continued with some stage work occasionally appearing
in films, as well. Her next big break came when she was cast opposite
Rudolph Valentino in "Blood and Sand" (1922). This brought
her a five-year contract with Paramount, and, moving to the West
Coast, her career took off. She received positive notices for
her role as a vamp in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments"
(1923), and was cast twice more opposite Valentino in "The
Sainted Devil" (1924) and "Cobra" (1925). Late
in 1925, Naldi left for Europe walking out on her Paramount contract.
She married wealthy businessman J. Searle Barclay and made several
films in Europe during the next couple of years. She did not return
to the United States until after the stock market crash when she
and her husband learned they had lost their fortune. The declared
bankruptcy in 1933. She continued doing sporadic stage work in
small roles during the 1930's and 1940's. When her husband died
in 1945, she moved into a run-down New York hotel where her rent
was partially paid by the Actor's Fund. She did a little televison
work during the 1950's, but was almost blind for the last years
of her life. She died of a heart attack in her sleep Feb. 17,
Selected films of this star available for viewing:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
Blood and Sand (1922)
The Ten Commandments (1923)
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