Anita Page (born Anita Evelyn Pomares; August 4, 1910 – September 6, 2008) was an American film actress who reached stardom in the final years of the silent film era.[1]

Anita Page
Page in Our Modern Maidens (1929)
Anita Evelyn Pomares

(1910-08-04)August 4, 1910
Flushing, Queens, New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 6, 2008(2008-09-06) (aged 98)
Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, San Diego, California
Years active1925–1936; 1961; 1996–2008
(m. 1934; div. 1935)
Herschel A. House
(m. 1937; died 1991)

She was referred to as "a blond, blue-eyed Latin"[2] and "the girl with the most beautiful face in Hollywood" in the 1920s.[3] She retired from acting in 1936, but made a come back in 1961, then she retired again. Page returned to acting 35 years later in 1996 and appeared in four films in the 2000s.

Early life edit

Anita Evelyn Pomares was born on August 4, 1910, in Flushing, Queens, New York.[4] Her parents were Marino Leo Pomares, who was originally from Brooklyn,[5] and Maude Evelyn (née Mullane) Pomares.[6] She had one brother, Marino Pomares Jr., who later worked for her as a gym instructor, and her mother worked as her secretary and her father as her chauffeur.[7] Page's paternal grandfather Salvador Marino Pomares, was from Cuba,[8] and had worked as a consul in El Salvador. Her paternal grandmother Anna Muñoz was Venezuelan, of Castilian Spanish and French descent.[8][9]

Career edit

Silent films and early talkies edit

Page featured in the Argentine magazine Cinelandia, January 1929

Page entered films with the help of friend, actress Betty Bronson. A photo of Page was spotted by a man who handled Bronson's fan mail who was also interested in representing actors. With the encouragement of her mother, Page telephoned the man who arranged a meeting for her with a casting director at Paramount Studios. After doing a screen test for Paramount, she became among the first residents of the Chateau Marmont.[10] Page was offered contracts by both studios and selected MGM,[11] "because they were so good for female actresses. If you ask me, MGM was the studio."[12]

Page's first film for MGM was the 1928 comedy-drama Telling the World, opposite William Haines. Her performance in her second MGM film, Our Dancing Daughters (1928) opposite Joan Crawford was a success and it inspired two similar films in which they also co-starred, Our Modern Maidens and Our Blushing Brides. "I used to say that we're going to be 'The Galloping Grandmothers' at the rate we're going with these pictures," she reminisced in 1993.[13]

The Broadway Melody (1929) is considered among her more successful films, and it won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Page transitioned to sound films, but she criticised the total loss of silent films. "In my opinion, silents were much better than talkies. One thing you had was mood music, which you could have playing throughout your scene to inspire you. My favorite song was 'My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice' from Samson and Delilah. I never seemed to tire of it. The trouble with talkies was, they let you have the music, but they'd stop it when you had to talk, and it was always a let down for me."[13]

When not working on films, she was busy with studio photographer George Hurrell creating publicity shots. She was one of his early subjects, and her photograph was his first to be published.[14] MGM played up her heritage in these press releases such as this 1932 blurb: "She is that rarest and most interesting type of beauty...A Spanish blonde",[4] and dubbed her "a blonde, blue-eyed Latin".[2]

She was the leading lady to Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable and others. During the early 1930s, she was one of Hollywood's busier actresses. She was involved romantically with Gable briefly during that time. At the height of her popularity, she was receiving more fan mail than any other female star, with the exception of Greta Garbo, and received several marriage proposals from Benito Mussolini in the mail.[7]

Retirement edit

When her contract expired in 1933, she announced her retirement from acting at the age of 23. She retired as she was denied a pay rise. She made one more movie, Hitch Hike to Heaven, in 1936, and then retired fully from acting.[4] Later, Page claimed that Irving Thalberg had offered her the starring role in three movies if she would sleep with him, which she refused.[10][15]

She married composer Nacio Herb Brown in 1934. The marriage was annulled a year later because Brown's previous divorce had not been finalized at the time they were married.[16] She married Navy pilot Lieutenant Hershel A. House on January 9, 1937, in Yuma, Arizona.[17] They moved to Coronado, California and lived there until his death in 1991. They had two daughters, Linda and Sandra.[18][19]

Return to acting edit

Page came back to acting and portrayed a nun in The Runaway, completed in 1961, but she cut short her comeback. She returned to acting in 1996 after 35 years of retirement and appeared in several low-budget horror films. Film veteran Margaret O'Brien appeared in two of them.[4]

Later years and death edit

Page was the last living attendee of the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929,[20] and frequently gave interviews as the "last star of the silents", appearing in documentaries about the era.

Page died in her sleep at the age of 98 on September 6, 2008, at her home in Los Angeles,[4] where she had lived with long-time companion Randal Malone.[10] She is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego.[21]

Legacy edit

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Anita Page has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6116 Hollywood Boulevard.[22]

Personal life edit

Page was a Democrat who supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election.[23] Page was a Catholic.[24]

Anita's second marriage was to Herschel Austin House in 1937. They lived in southern California and were together for 54 years until Herschel's death in 1991 at the age of 84. Herschel had retired from the Navy as a rear admiral. They had two daughters, Sandra and Linda, and they are buried together under his last name.[citation needed]

Filmography edit

Year Title Role Notes[25]
1925 A Kiss for Cinderella Uncredited
1926 Love 'Em and Leave 'Em Uncredited
1927 Beach Nuts Short
1928 Telling the World Chrystal Malone
Our Dancing Daughters Ann 'Annikins'
While the City Sleeps Myrtle portions of 2 reels are missing
West of Zanzibar bit role uncredited
1929 The Flying Fleet Anita Hastings
The Broadway Melody Queenie Mahoney alternative title: The Broadway Melody of 1929
The Hollywood Revue of 1929 herself
Our Modern Maidens Kentucky Strafford
Speedway Patricia
Navy Blues Alice "Allie" Brown
1930 Free and Easy Elvira Plunkett alternative title: Easy Go
Caught Short Genevieve Jones
Our Blushing Brides Connie Blair
The Little Accident Isabel
War Nurse Joy Meadows
Great Day Incomplete
Estrellados herself uncredited
1931 The Voice of Hollywood No. 7 (Second Series) herself short
Wir schalten um auf Hollywood herself uncredited
Reducing Vivian Truffle
The Easiest Way Peg Murdock Feliki
Gentleman's Fate Ruth Corrigan
Sidewalks of New York Margie Kelly
Under Eighteen Sophie
1932 Are You Listening? Sally O'Neil
Night Court Mary Thomas alternative title: Justice for Sale
Skyscraper Souls Jenny LeGrande
Prosperity Helen Praskins Warren
1933 Jungle Bride Doris Evans
Soldiers of the Storm Natalie
The Big Cage Lilian Langley
I Have Lived Jean St. Clair alternative titles: After Midnight
Love Life
1936 Hitch Hike to Heaven Claudia Revelle alternative title: Footlights and Shadows
1961 The Runaway Nun
1996 Sunset After Dark Anita Bronson
1998 Creaturealm: From the Dead herself segment "Hollywood Mortuary"
2000 Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood Sister Seraphina direct-to-DVD release
2002 The Crawling Brain Grandma Anita Kroger direct-to-DVD release
2004 Bob's Night Out Socialite
2010 Frankenstein Rising Elizabeth Frankenstein released posthumously
2019 Doctor Stein Elizabeth Stein released posthumously; archive footage

References edit

  1. ^ "Anita Page: Star of the silent screen". September 8, 2008. Archived from the original on May 7, 2022. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. Indiana University Press. 2006. p. 499. ISBN 0253111692. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  3. ^ "Anita Page, 98; Hollywood Star at End of Silent Movie Era". The Washington Post. September 7, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e Berkvist, Robert (September 8, 2008). "Anita Page, Silent-Film Siren, Dies at 98". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  5. ^ Anita Page Interview 4 out of 9. States her father was of Spanish origin born in Brooklyn.
  6. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 181
  7. ^ a b Ronald, Bergan (September 8, 2008). "Anita Page: Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
  8. ^ a b At the Center of the Frame: Leading Ladies of the Twenties and Thirties William M. Drew "My real name is Anita Pomares which is Spanish. Both my parents were born in this country. My paternal grandfather had come over from Spain and was a consul in El Salvador. My grandmother was definitely Castilian Spanish".
  9. ^ Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro by André Soares
  10. ^ a b c "Anita Page: Silent film actress who aroused the jealousy of Joan Crawford and the lust of Mussolini". The Telegraph. September 7, 2008.
  11. ^ Golden, Eve (2001). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. pp. 130–131. ISBN 0-7864-0834-0.
  12. ^ Ankerich 1998, p. 185
  13. ^ a b Ankerich 1998, p. 191
  14. ^ Vieira, Mark A. (November 12, 2013). George Hurrell's Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925-1992. Running Press. ISBN 978-0-7624-5039-8.
  15. ^ Bernstein, Adam (September 8, 2008). "Anita Page, 98; one of last stars of the silent film era". Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  16. ^ Page, Anita (August 22, 2007). "Anita Page: Q&A with Author Allan Ellenberger". Alternate Film Guide (Interview). Interviewed by Allan Ellenberger. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  17. ^ Arizona, County Marriage Records, 1865–1972
  18. ^ "Silent screen siren Anita Page dies at 98". USA Today. September 7, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  19. ^ "From the Archives: Anita Page, Actress Starred in '29 Oscar Winner, Dies". Los Angeles Times. September 8, 2008. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  20. ^ "Anita Page cinema card". National Museum of American History. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  21. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3d ed.). McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7.
  22. ^ "Anita Page". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  23. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  24. ^ Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  25. ^ Villecco, Tony (2001). Silent Stars Speak. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0814-6.
Works cited
  • Ankerich, Michael G. (1998). The Sound of Silence: Conversations With 16 Film and Stage Personalities Who Bridged the Gap Between Silents and Talkies. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0504-X.

External links edit