While fame itself was nothing new in the 1920s, the recent introduction of moving pictures had transformed the very meaning of the word. Indeed, the film stars of the late 1910s and the 1920s were a whole new breed of celebrity.
Initially, nameless players had been assembled by small studios to tell a story. It didn’t take long before movies — both silent films and “talkies” — became the diversion of choice for millions, meaning the actresses and actors up on the silver screen were now recognizable to cinema-goers all across the country. By the time the calendar closed on 1919, dozens of men and women were so familiar to — and adored by — the public, they had truly become stars.
One of the first major movie productions was 1915’s The Birth of a Nation. Mary Pickford once noted, “Birth of a Nation was the first picture that really made people take the motion picture industry seriously.” Indeed, in 1926, Photoplay’s editors wrote, “millions of miles of film have flowed out of the camera since then, and Hollywood has been created and many, many millions of dollars.”
Stunning starlets on the silver screen
Below, take a look back with a photo gallery featuring some of the top female moving picture actresses of the Roaring Twenties by way of the portraits were published in Photoplay, one of the most popular fan magazines of the day.
The pictures include many of the talented women who were on their way to becoming icons of the age — such as Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford, Norma Talmadge, Gloria Swanson, Claudette Colbert, Norma Shearer, Fay Wray, Lillian Gish, Myrna Loy, Clara Bow, and the inimitable Joan Crawford.
There are also those whose names may not be familiar, but whose looks — the fashion, hair and makeup — beautifully represent this bygone era. Some of those actresses include Louise Brooks, Betty Bronson, Dorothy Sebastian, Olive Borden, Dolores Del Rio, Sue Carol, Gilda Gray, Colleen Moore, Lupe Velez, Greta Nissen, Phyllis Haver, Anna May Wong, Evelyn Brent, Janet Gaynor, Jacqueline Logan, Billie Dove, Shirley Mason, Eleanor Boardman, Ruth Wilcox, Mary Allison, Sally Rand, Mary Brian and Claire Windsor.
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