Born on this day in 1896, Blanche Sweet was raised in a vaudeville and theatrical family, making her onstage debut at age 4. In 1909, she began working for Biograph Studios, becoming one of D.W. Griffith’s premier actresses. (She starred in scores of films for him through 1914. Today Judith of Bethulia would be the most famous). After this, she moved to Paramount, where she starred in numerous films for Cecil B. Demille. Sweet was one of the top actresses of the silent era, but when talkies came in, her career began to sputter. She had a flashy, melodramatic turn in the 1930 musical Show Girl in Hollywood which the Countess and I caught at the Film Forum a while back. Here is the Countess’s astute review. After this, Sweet continued to act for a while on stage and on radio. Towards the end of her life she retired, passing away in 1986.
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc