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

Anita Page
Anita Page - OUR MODERN MAIDENS.jpg
Page in Our Modern Maidens (1929)
Born
Anita Evelyn Pomares

(1910-08-04)August 4, 1910
DiedSeptember 6, 2008(2008-09-06) (aged 98)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, San Diego
NationalityAmerican
OccupationActress
Years active1925–1936; 1961; 1996–2008
Spouse(s)
Nacio Herb Brown
(m. 1934; div. 1935)

Herschel A. House
(m. 1937; died 1991)
Children2
Page featured in the Argentinean magazine Cinelandia, January 1929

Page became a highly popular young star, reportedly receiving the most fan mail of anyone on the MGM lot. 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. Page married her second husband the following year with whom she had two children.

Page returned to acting sixty years later in 1996, and appeared in four films in the 2000s. She died in September 2008 at the age of 98.

Early lifeEdit

Anita Evelyn Pomares was born to Marino Leo, Sr. (b. Brooklyn[4]) and Maude Evelyn (née Mullane) Pomares.[5] She had one brother, Marino Jr., who later worked for her as a gym instructor while her mother worked as her secretary and her father as her chauffeur.[6] Page's paternal grandfather Marino was from Spain,[7] and had worked as a consul in El Salvador; her grandmother Anna Muñoz was of (Castillian) Spanish descent.[8] She was of maternal Yankee and French descent.[9][10]

CareerEdit

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 screentest for Paramount, Page also tested for MGM. After being offered a contract for both studios, Page decided on MGM.[11] "I wanted to go with MGM 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 tremendous 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 said in 1993.[13]

The Broadway Melody (1929) opposite Bessie Love was one of her greatest successes, and it won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Page had no trouble transitioning to talking pictures, but she wasn't thrilled that they basically did away with 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 letdown for me."[14]

She was the leading lady to Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, Robert Montgomery, and Clark Gable (among others) and during the early 1930s, she was one of Hollywood's busiest actresses. She was involved briefly with Gable romantically 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.[6]

RetirementEdit

When her contract expired in 1933, she surprised Hollywood by announcing her retirement at the age of 23. She made one more movie, Hitch Hike to Heaven, in 1936, and then left the screen, virtually disappearing from Hollywood circles for sixty years. In a 2004 interview with author Scott Feinberg, she claimed that her refusal to meet demands for sexual favors by MGM head of production Irving Thalberg, supported by studio chief Louis B. Mayer, is what truly ended her career. She said that Mayer colluded with the other studio bosses to ban her and other uncooperative actresses from finding work.

She married composer Nacio Herb Brown in 1934, but the marriage was annulled a year later because Brown's previous divorce had not been finalized at the time they were married.[15] She married Lieutenant Hershel A. House, a Navy pilot, on January 9, 1937 in Yuma, Arizona,[16] and they moved to Coronado, California, and lived there until his death in 1991. They had two daughters, Linda[17] (now Linda Sterne)[18] and Sandra (who predeceased Page).

Page was a Democrat who supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election[19]. Page was a Roman Catholic.[20]

Return to actingEdit

Page returned to the screen in 1996 after sixty years retirement and appeared in several low budget horror films. Film veteran Margaret O'Brien appeared in two of them. During this period, she moved in with her co-star and occasional director, Randal Malone at his Van Nuys home.

Page relished her status as "last star of the silents" and frequently gave interviews and appeared in documentaries about the era. Ill health prevented her from making public appearances in her final years.

DeathEdit

Page died in her sleep on September 6, 2008 at her Los Angeles home, at the age of 98.[21] She is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego.

At the time of her death in September 2008, she was among the last to have acted as an adult in silent films (Barbara Kent and Miriam Seegar are among the handful of others) to live into the 21st century. She was also the last living attendee of the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.

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

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1925 A Kiss for Cinderella Uncredited
1926 Love 'Em and Leave 'Em Uncredited
1927 Beach Nuts Short film
1928 Telling the World Chrystal Malone
Our Dancing Daughters Ann 'Annikins'
While the City Sleeps Myrtle
West of Zanzibar Bit role Uncredited
1929 The Flying Fleet Anita Hastings
The Broadway Melody Queenie Mahoney Alternative title: The Broadway Melody of 1929
Our Modern Maidens Kentucky Strafford
Speedway Patricia
Navy Blues Alice "Allie" Brown
1930 Great Day Incomplete
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
1931 The Voice of Hollywood No. 7 (Second Series)
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
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
2009 Frankenstein Rising Elizabeth Frankenstein Released posthumously
2016 Doctor Stein Elizabeth Stein Released posthumously

Villecco, Tony; Silent Stars Speak. McFarland 2001 p 101 ISBN 0-7864-0814-6

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Anita Page: Star of the silent screen. Independent.co.uk (September 8, 2008). Retrieved on May 10, 2012.
  2. ^ Latinas in the United States. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved on May 10, 2012.
  3. ^ Anita Page, 98; Hollywood Star at End of Silent Movie Era. Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved on May 10, 2012.
  4. ^ Anita Page Interview 4 out of 9. States her father was of Spanish origin born in Brooklyn.
  5. ^ Ankerich, Michael G. (1998). The Sound Of Silence: Conversations With 16 Film and Stage Personalities Who Bridged the Gap Between Silents and Talkies. McFarland. p. 181. ISBN 0-786-40504-X.
  6. ^ a b Ronald, Bergan (September 8, 2008). "Anita Page: Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
  7. ^ 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".
  8. ^ At the Center of the Frame: Leading Ladies of the Twenties and Thirties William M. Drew
  9. ^ Latin American Writers and the Rise of Hollywood Cinema By Jason Borge
  10. ^ Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro By André Soares
  11. ^ Golden, Eve (2001). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. pp. 130–131. ISBN 0-7864-0834-0.
  12. ^ Ankerich, Michael G. The Sound of Silence: Conversations with 16 Film and Stage Personalities. McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC: 1998. p. 185.
  13. ^ Ankerich, Michael G. The Sound of Silence: Conversations with 16 Film and Stage Personalities. McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC: 1998. p. 191.
  14. ^ Ankerich, Michael G. The Sound of Silence: Conversations with 16 Film and Stage Personalities. McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC: 1998. p. 191.
  15. ^ Alternate Film Guide: Anita Page: Anita Page: Q&A with Author Allan Ellenberger. Altfg.com (August 22, 2007). Retrieved on May 10, 2012.
  16. ^ Arizona, County Marriage Records, 1865-1972
  17. ^ KansasCity.com: Silent screen siren Anita Page dies at 98[dead link]
  18. ^ Silent screen siren Anita Page dies at 98. usatoday.com (September 7, 2008). Retrieved on May 10, 2012.
  19. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  20. ^ Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  21. ^ Berkvist, Robert (September 8, 2008). "Anita Page, Silent-Film Siren, Dies at 98". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2011.

External linksEdit