Because we’ve written about a few of them here and have never stopped to explain what one is, today we offer a brief squib on the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Despite a somewhat ugly name, for about a decade it was one of the most desired things on earth for a young lady to be.
WAMPAS stands for the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers. Every year from 1922 to 1934 (with the exceptions of 1930 and 1933), this influential Hollywood trade organization elected 13-15 young actresses as being among the most promising in their profession. Many of them did indeed go on to become the biggest stars in Hollywood. For others, their WAMPAS nomination would be the pinnacle of their career.
We’ve written about many of them — just click the highlighted names for a link to the full article. Among the notable WAMPAS Baby Stars: Lila Lee, Bessie Love, Kathryn McGuire, Patsy Ruth Miller, Colleen Moore, Dorothy Devore, Jobyna Ralston, Oliver Borden, Clara Bow, Alberta Vaughn, Madeline Hurlock, Mary Astor, Dolores Costello, Joan Crawford, Dolores del Rio, Marian Nixon, Janet Gaynor, Fay Wray, Helene Costello, Frances Lee, Sally Rand, Jean Arthur, Anita Page, Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, Anita Louise, Ginger Rogers, Lina Basquette, Gloria Stuart, Marceline Day, Alice Day and Jean Gale.
A short contemplation of these names will be all it takes to realize that this honor roll, like all of life, was also something of a beauty contest.
To learn more about early film history, please 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