Saturday, June 29, 2013

Funny Ladies Of The Silent Era: A Baker's Dozen

My purely idiosyncratic list designed to promote the Funny Lady Blogathon now up and running at Movies, Silently. "A baker's dozen" implies pies will be thrown and some of these funny ladies, particularly Mabel Normand, threw a mean one. Things might get messy so dress appropriately—you've been forewarned.

13. Daphne Pollard—standing 4' 9", this diminutive comedienne was a star in Mack Sennett's stable in the mid-1920s.

12. Bebe Daniels—co-starred in the early Harold Lloyd shorts then jumped to Cecil B. DeMille's sex comedies.

11. Jobyna Ralston—the "girl" in most of Harold Lloyd's latter-day features, including Girl Shy, The Freshman and The Kid Brother

10. Constance Talmadge—remembered now for her turn as the "Mountain Girl" in D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, in her day she was beloved for her comedy.

9. Edna Purviance—made more movies with Charlie Chaplin than any other actress.

8. Ossi Oswalda—maybe the least known to American audiences, she was Ernst Lubitsch's go-to girl before he moved to Hollywood.

7. Colleen Moore—this fresh-faced girl-next-door had a knack for finding trouble.

6. Gloria Swanson—long before Norma Desmond, she was playing second fiddle to superstar Teddy the dog for Mack Sennett then graduated to DeMille's groundbreaking sex comedies.

5. Marion Davies—Orson Welles owes somebody an apology: this woman was talented and funny.

4. Clara Bow—the original "It" girl: beautiful, tender, funny and ultimately doomed.

3. Marie Dressler—the star of the first feature-length comedy, 1914's Tillie's Punctured Romance, she made a comeback in 1928 and eventually won an Oscar. (Dressler's the one on the right.)

2. Mary Pickford—number one at the box office, number one in our hearts, number two on this list.

1. Mabel Normand—sometimes credited with throwing the first pie in movie history, she was the beauty who starred with such beasts as Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.

That's it. Have at it.

14 comments:

Dawn Sample said...

I saw for the first time yesterday the classic film, The Vagabond Lover(1929). With Rudy Vallee, who plays the leader of a small town band trying to make the big time. The band travels to Long Island to visit the home of band leader, Ted Grant. Marie Dressler, who steals the show, mistakes them for a famous band and invites them to play at her musicale. She's so funny and cute in this film, I just loved her.

This film was Dressler's talkie debut. Everything, she ever performed in was a big hit.


VP81955 said...

Good list, but Orson apologized to Marion by writing an introduction to her memoirs, "The Times We Had." And the favor was sort of reciprocated last year when "Citizen Kane" was shown at the Hearst Castle visitors center...with the blessing of the Hearst family.

Mythical Monkey said...

Orson apologized to Marion by writing an introduction to her memoirs

Apology accepted, Mr. Welles.

Actually, art is its own justification, but still, Marion Davies's reputation sort of suffered as a result.

And I love the idea of Citizen Kane being shown in the Hearst Castle.

Mythical Monkey said...

Marie Dressler, who steals the show, mistakes them for a famous band and invites them to play at her musicale. She's so funny and cute in this film, I just loved her.

She's one of my absolute favorites -- I wish she were better known outside of classic film circles.

Erik Beck said...

And I know I've brought it up before, but don't forget that Marie Dressler had the best reaction to a line ever at the conclusion of Dinner at Eight.

Fritzi Kramer said...

Hi there! Thanks so much for the fun list. Any friend of Ossi's is a friend of mine!

Fritzi, MoviesSilently.com

Mythical Monkey said...

And I know I've brought it up before, but don't forget that Marie Dressler had the best reaction to a line ever at the conclusion of Dinner at Eight.

My favorite double-take of all time.

Mythical Monkey said...

Any friend of Ossi's is a friend of mine!

And any friend of a friend of Ossi's is a friend of mine! She was great, wasn't she.

Margaret Perry said...

This is such a perfect list. I really love a lot of these gals, but some I haven't even heard of, so you've given me a great summer viewing project. Thanks!
http://margaretperry.org/when-comedy-was-queen-funny-lady-blogathon/

FlickChick said...

Fantastic round-up. Of course, I'm ga-ga for Edna, Marion, Clara & Mabel, but thanks so much for including the very wonderful Constance Talmadge.

portraitsbyjenni said...

Thanks for making this list. I knew of Swanson, Bow, Normand, and Davies, but not too much about the others. I watched Wings this past spring and Jobyna was in it, playing Richard Arlen's love, and allowing Buddy Rogers's character think that she loves him.

LĂȘ said...

They're all wonderful! I laughed a lot with Bebe in Harold Lloyd's Just Neighbors.
I actually enjoy that these great comediennes were short. It makes me feel happy with my 5 feet tall silhouette.
Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
Greetings!

Judy said...

Great list - I've seen films starring some of these, including the wonderful Marie Dressler, but need to catch up with some of the others!

La Petite Gallery said...

That Constance Talmadge was beautiful. I wonder if Swanson was that young when she met Joe Kennedy.
Loved Marion Davies and Dressler was Great.
I don't see anything like them now.