Anita Page

Anita Evelyn Pomares (August 4, 1910 – September 6, 2008), better known as Anita Page, was an American film actress who reached stardom in the last years of the silent film era.[1] She became a highly popular young star, reportedly at one point receiving the most fan mail of anyone on the MGM lot. When Page died in 2008 at age 98, she was the last surviving "famous" film star of the silent era except for child actresses such as Baby Peggy and Baby Marie. A few silent leading ladies who did not achieve wide fame survive her. 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]

Contents


Early life

Page was born in Flushing, Queens to Helen and John Pomares. She had one brother, Marino, who later worked for her as a gym instructor while her mother worked as her secretary and her father as her chauffeur.[4] Of Spanish ancestry, Page's grandfather was a consul from El Salvador.[1][5]

Career

Page entered films with the help of friend, actress Betty Bronson. Page's picture 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 screentesting for Paramount, Page also tested for MGM. After being offered a contract for both studios, Page decided on MGM.[6] Page's first film for MGM was the 1928 comedy-drama Telling the World, opposite William Haines. Her performances in her second MGM film, Our Dancing Daughters (1928) opposite Joan Crawford (with whom she appeared in three films), and The Broadway Melody (1929) opposite Bessie Love were her greatest successes of the period, and her popularity allowed her to make a smooth transition into talking pictures.

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 multiple marriage proposals from Benito Mussolini in the mail.[4]

Retirement

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 their marriage was dissolved a year later; it was annulled because Brown's previous divorce had not been finalized at the time of Page and Brown's marriage.[7] She married Lieutenant Hershel A. House, a Navy pilot, in 1937 and they moved to Coronado, California and lived there until his death in 1991. They had two daughters, Linda[8] (now Linda Sterne)[9] and Sandra (who predeceased her mother).

Return to spotlight

Page returned to the screen in 1996 after sixty years retirement and appeared in several low budget horror films, several of which appeared to have been uncompleted or not released. 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. Although ill health prevented her from making public appearances in her final years, her reputation for answering letters from fans never diminished.

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.

Death

Anita Page died in her sleep on Saturday, September 6, 2008 in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California of natural causes. She was 98 years old. Being of the Catholic faith, she is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego.

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

Filmography

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
1928 Our Dancing Daughters Ann 'Annikins'
1928 While the City Sleeps Myrtle
1928 West of Zanzibar Bit role Uncredited
1929 The Flying Fleet Anita Hastings
1929 The Broadway Melody Queenie Mahoney Alternative title: The Broadway Melody of 1929
1929 Our Modern Maidens Kentucky Strafford
1929 Speedway Patricia
1929 Navy Blues Alice "Allie" Brown
1930 Great Day Incomplete
1930 Free and Easy Elvira Plunkett Alternative title: Easy Go
1930 Caught Short Genevieve Jones
1930 Our Blushing Brides Connie Blair
1930 Little Accident Isabel
1930 War Nurse Joy Meadows
1931 The Voice of Hollywood No. 7 (Second Series)
1931 Reducing Vivian Truffle
1931 The Easiest Way Peg Murdock Feliki
1931 Gentleman's Fate Ruth Corrigan
1931 Sidewalks of New York Margie Kelly
1931 Under 18 Sophie
1932 Are You Listening? Sally O'Neil
1932 Night Court Mary Thomas Alternative title: Justice for Sale
1932 Skyscraper Souls Jenny LeGrande
1932 Prosperity Helen Praskins Warren
1933 Jungle Bride Doris Evans
1933 Soldiers of the Storm Natalie
1933 The Big Cage Lilian Langley
1933 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 Socialite Socialite
2009 Frankenstein Rising Elizabeth Frankenstein Released posthumously

References