Recommended Reading

"Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses"

by Anthony Slide (The University Press of Kentucky, 2002, 439 pages)

Virtually all of the silent movie stars are gone, as well as their contemporaries. However, there are a select few who have devoted much of their lives to preserving the memories of those long ago stars, and, in doing so, not only met, but grew close to many of them in their later years. Anthony Slide is just such a person, having given us many fines books on the silent era such as "The Films of D.W. Griffith," "The Griffith Actresses," "The Idols of Silence," and more. However, "Silent Players" is unique among his books, not only because it brings together short biographies of 100 silent movie stars, but because Slide knew many of them personally. That's what makes this book such a delight to read. He speaks of attending many screenings and dinner engagements with Blanche Sweet between 1969 and 1986, stopping by Alice Terry's home from time to time to drop off reading material, Mary Brian hosting his surprise 50th birthday party, taking a stroll through Picadilly with Harold Lloyd, eating lemon meringue pie in Esther Ralston's trailer home and more. He also offers little known insights into the stars' personalities such as Viola Dana's sexual proclivities, Priscilla Bonner's refusal to acknowledge her wealth in later years, Mary Philbin's reclusiveness, Gertrude Olmstead's lack of interest about her career, or Lois Wilson's declaration that she loved playing a bitch. The book is appropriately titled "A Biographical and Autobiographical Study . . ." since Slide's personal reminisces comprise a good portion of so many of the sections. Don't expect in-depth biographies, but do expect to be entertained and delighted by this wonderful book. (More info . . .)

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