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This site is intended to serve as a gathering place for information on some of more underappreciated silent film stars--the "emotional actresses," as they were called in the trade, those who specialized in drama. Comediennes and sex symbols seem to remain in the minds of fans for years, and are particularly popular to new generations of silent film lovers. Yet dramas were a staple of the silent screen and produced some of the brightest and most beloved stars. These special women have been largely forgotten by later generations, and their films are seldom revived. This is my own personal selection of divas (as well as my own subjective definition of "diva"), so if your favorite is not here, check my links below for other silent film actresses. So far, I have concentrated on stars of American films, since they are the most accessible and familiar to me. However, since silent film was an international art, I intend to include divas of other lands. As films from other areas of the world become available, perhaps we will have the opportunity to rediscover more of the great ladies of the silent screen.

This site is getting rather old now and it's impossible to keep up with the broken links. Remember that if you find a broken link that you wanted to follow, copy the URL and paste it into the Wayback Machine, and look at a cache from a few years back.

The Unsung Divas

Here you will find my websites devoted to four of these silent stars. The sites include old and new articles, pictures, filmographies, contemporary reviews, and reviews of videos.

The Norma Talmadge Website The Norma Talmadge Website Clara Kimball Young The Clara Kimball Young Website
The Pauline Frederick Website Pauline Frederick Alice Joyce The Alice Joyce Website

Test your knowledge! Take the Diva Pop Quiz

Other Divas on the Web

Some of these stars are still well known, some are now obscure. Each page contains a little information about the actress, links to information about her on the web, and further information in print sources.

Gloria Swanson Pola Negri
Mae Murray Alla Nazimova
Theda Bara Greta Garbo
Lillian Gish Blanche Sweet
Mae Marsh Elsie Ferguson
Corinne Griffith Anita Stewart
Geraldine Farrar Priscilla Dean
Louise Brooks Asta Nielsen
Francesca Bertini Lyda Borelli
Pina Menichelli Henny Porten
Vera Kholodnaya Ruan Lingyu

Other Silent Actresses of Note

These actresses, while never achieving the top rank of stardom and often overlooked even in their own time, are here celebrated for their exceptional dramatic talent. Their presence often gives distinction to an otherwise nondescript film, and in a great film they have a real chance to shine.

Bessie Love Betty Compson
Irene Rich Lois Wilson

Other silent film actresses on the web

Sites and articles on groups of actresses

Silent Ladies

Speeding Sweethearts of the Screen, by William Drew

The Tragic Flugrath Sisters (Viola Dana, Shirley Mason, and Edna Flugrath, by Tim Lusser

From Demure to Tempestuous: The Leading Ladies of Chaplin's Silent Features, by Tim Lusser

Pretty, Funny Ladies, by Tim Lusser

Single Actresses, A-Z

Olga Baclanova, the Ultimate Cinemantrap

Vilma Banky, the Hungarian Rhapsody

Eleanor Boardman

Olive Borden, the Joy Girl

Chile Bouchier, by Michael Grantside, in Classic Images

The Clara Bow Page

A Tribute to Betty Bronson

The Silent Film Career of Bartine Burkett

Alice Calhoun

Jewel Carmen, Shaded in Scandal, by Billy Doyle, in Classic Images

The Virginia Lee Corbin Scrapbook

Joan Crawford Heaven

Goddess of the Silent Screen: Dolores Costello Barrymore

Lil Dagover

The Marion Davies Home Page

Marlene Dietrich Silent Film, 1923-1929

Delectable Dollies, the Dolly Sisters

Marie Doro, A Forgotten Star

Marie Doro Home Page

Dorothy Dwan, by Billy Doyle, in Classic Images

Jeanne Eagels, Myths about the Legend

Helen Gardner, Silent Film Pioneer

Whatever Became of Neva Gerber, by Billy Doyle, in Classic Images

The Dorothy Gish Project

Jetta Goudal, by Charles C. Benham, in Classic Images

Jetta Goudal and Me, by Frank "Junior" Coghlan, in Classic Images

Ethel Grandin, by James Trottier, in Classic Images

Camilla Horn, by Tony Villecco, in Classic Images

Florence LaBadie (in French)

Barbara LaMarr: A Memorial Tribute, by Jimmy Bangley, in Classic Images

The Legendary Barbara La Marr, by Jimmy Bangley, in Classic Images

Florence Lawrence and Friends, Kelly Brown's Florence Lawrence Blog

Bessie Learn, by James Trottier, in Classic Images

Brief Shining Star (Martha Mansfield), by Eve Golden, in Classic Images

The June Marlowe Website


Mary Miles Minter, by Robert Klepper, in Classic Images

Century Baby (Colleen Moore Website)

Another Colleen Moore site

And another Colleen Moore site

Nita Naldi, Silent Vamp

"Madcap Mabel" : The Mabel Normand Website

The Mabel Normand Home Page

Baby Marie Osborne, by Billy Doyle, in Classic Images

The Anita Page

Baby Peggy--an interview

America's Sweetheart, Mary Pickford

The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education

Edna Purviance, Nevada's Forgotten Movie Star

Esther Ralston, by Jeffery Rolick, in Classic Images

Dorothy Sebastian

Alexandra Sorina

Edith Storey, from William Drew's Speeding Sweethearts

Shearer Sophistication, a site on Norma Shearer

Constance Talmadge

The Olive Thomas Homepage

Vola Vale, by Billy Doyle, in Classic Images

Fannie Ward The Youth Girl, by Eve Golden, in Classic Images

Alice White

Little White Lies (Pearl White), by Eve Golden, in Classic Images

Claire Windsor, by Al Bohrer, in Classic Images

Anna May Wong, Frosted Yellow Willows

Links to other general silent film sites

Alt.movies.silent FAQ
Great source of basic information from the alt.movies.silent newsgroup, including links to other silent film sites

The American Film Institute catalog of motion pictures produced in the United States : Silent Films
The online version of the AFI catalog contains information about silent features, plus some short films up to 1911. There is also members' only access to catalog entries on sound features.

Media History Digital Library
Scans of extensive runs of several important trade journals and fan magagazines including Moving Picture World, Photoplay, Wids/Film Daily, and others.

The Women Film Pioneers Project
Articles on women filmmakers of the silent era, edited by Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal, and Monica Dall’Asta,

Glen Pringle's Silent Movies
Silent star of the month, links to silent film interest groups, and lots of links to other silent film sites

Silents are Golden
Nice features, lots of vintage reviews, great list of silent films on video.

The Silent Film Still Archive
An ever-growing collection of fascinating film stills of the silent era

Silent Era
A new, but growing, site with information and reviews on silents on DVD and VHS, information about stars, book reviews, and Presumed Lost, a preliminary listing of lost films

100 Years of Hollywood and the Stars of 1910 to 2010
A nice new site by film historian William Drew on the movie stars of the 1910s.

Golden Silents
A nice new site featuring biographical information on many stars, tinted photos, film clips

Gilda's Blue Book of the Screen
Great articles on Silent Film, as well as lots of links

Welcome to Silent Movies
Features, calendars, and assorted facts on the silent film era

Unsung Divas

Created and maintained by Greta de Groat,
Photos courtesy of David Pearson unless otherwise noted
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
Special contents © 2001
Last revised, December 26, 2014