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Blanche Sweet

Often overshadowed by fellow Griffith actress Lillian Gish, Blanche Sweet was a gifted actress of an entirely different type. Though she possessed Griffith's favorite cloud of blond hair (which she was among the first to bob in the twenties), her robust good looks and impression of physical strength made her the only one of Griffith's actresses who could have convincingly played Judith of Bethulia (1914). She was getting most of his plum parts when she left in 1914 for the Lasky Feature Play Company to work with both De Mille brothers. These later films are less well known today than her Griffith films, but she continued as an actress of strength and character in many films of the late teens and twenties, seeking out challenging roles such as Anna Christie (1923) and the now lost Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1924). Her talkie appearances were few, but she walks away with the otherwise ghastly Showgirl in Hollywood (1930)

I received a nice note from Anthony Slide recently (February 2013) who reminded me of his writings on Sweet (which i added to the references below) and also informed me that he made a 30-minute documentary on Blanche, titled Portrait of Blanche Sweet. Shot in 16mm, the film is not currently available, which, as he said "is perhaps a pity in that Blanche always called it 'my biography.'" Also, there is a Blanche Sweet lilac, of which there is a number of at a park in Brooklyn, under which her ashes were finally scattered.

On the Web

The Internet Movie Database filmography

The Silent Ladies photo gallery

Bio on Golden Silents

Sweet's entry in The Blue Book of the Screen (1923)

Sweet's entry in Stars of the Photoplay (1924)

A Louella Parsons interview with Blanche Sweet in Taylorology 63

Another interview with Blanche Sweet from Taylorology 36

Scroll down for a listing of the films in the 1996 Blanche Sweet retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Glen Pringle's silent star of the month

Judith of Bethulia, feature of the month in Silents are Golden

Films Available on Video

The Painted Lady (1912), One is business, the other crime (1912) and Death's Marathon (1913)
in "Biograph Shorts," available from Kino Video
The Woman Racket (1930)
Available from the Warner Archive
Judith of Bethulia (1914)
Available from Nostalgia Family Video
The Avenging Conscience (1914)
Available from Kino Video
That Girl Montana (1921)
Available from Facets Multimedia
Anna Christie (1923)
Available from Nostalgia Family Video

Further Reading

Lahue, Kalton C. Ladies in Distress. South Brunswick and New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1971. p. 278-285.

Franklin, Joe [and William K. Everson].Classics of the Silent Screen. New York : Citadel Press, 5th ed., 1971 (originally published 1959): p. 228.

Slide, Anthony.SIlent Players. Lexington, Kentucky : University Press of Kentucky, 2002 : p. 357.

Slide, Anthony.The Griffith Actresses. A.S. Barnes, 1973 (this is also dedicated to her)

Unsung Divas

©2001, by Greta de Groat. All Rights Reserved

Last revised April 20, 2013