John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars [Paperback]

Eve Golden (Author)

ISBN: 9780813196497 | Published by: University Press of Kentucky | Series: Screen Classics | Year of Publication: 2022 | Language: English 378p, H229 x W152 (mm) 62 b&w halftones

John Gilbert


Charming and classically handsome, John Gilbert (1897–1936) was among the world's most recognisable actors during the silent era. He was a wild, swashbuckling figure on screen and off, and accounts of his life have focused on his high-profile romances with Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, his legendary conflicts with Louis B. Mayer, his four tumultuous marriages, and his swift decline after the introduction of talkies. A dramatic and interesting personality, Gilbert served as one of the primary inspirations for the character of George Valentin in the Academy Award-winning movie, The Artist (2011). Many myths have developed around the larger-than-life star in the eighty years since his untimely death, but this definitive biography sets the record straight.

Eve Golden separates fact from fiction in John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars, tracing the actor's life from his youth spent travelling with his mother in acting troupes to the peak of fame at MGM, where he starred opposite Mae Murray, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, and other actresses in popular films such as The Merry Widow (1925), The Big Parade (1925), Flesh and the Devil (1926), and Love (1927). Golden debunks some of the most pernicious rumours about the actor, including the oft-repeated myth that he had a high-pitched, squeaky voice that ruined his career. Meticulous, comprehensive, and generously illustrated, this book provides a behind-the-scenes look at one of the silent era's greatest stars and the glamorous yet brutal world in which he lived.

Table of Contents

So much of my youth was spent praying for a good season. A young world mad with ecstatic life, a fifteen dollar a week world, but—swell! I stared at a woman sitting opposite me in my apartment. I discovered that she was my wife. Liquor was provided for everybody, and morphine and cocaine, for those who craved them It's so great to be a part of anything like this. I just can't believe I'm really here. Sequence after sequence was good... No love has ever enthralled me as did the making of this picture. She is capable of doing a lot of damage... Upsetting thrones, breaking up friendships, wrecking homes—that sort of thing. John Gilbert is the current sensation. Quick money and heavy will be his. How long will he last? I became arrogant, of course. I admit it. I was John Gilbert, the supreme, the untouchable. My principle worry at the moment is to conquer a new technique, difficult and exacting, which has entered my business. No one questioned my voice. I just had a voice, that's all, like anyone else's. With each picture I made I knew I was sinking lower and lower. Virginia's sweetness, her sympathy and understanding, are beyond belief. I told him that it would make it easier for me if he could show just a little faith in me. I needed faith. Nothing could surprise me any longer. Well, I have nothing more to lose. I never could figure out Jack Gilbert. He was like mercury—touch him and he's gone.

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