Pauline Starke: Big Screen Beauty, Briefly

Pauline Starke (1901-77), a major silent film star during the 1920s, found herself in films almost accidentally. As a teenager, she did extra work in The Claws of Greed (1914) and D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916). Within a year Frank Borzage was casting her in lead roles. Major early films included The Untamed (1920), Salvation Nell (1921), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1921), and My Wild Irish Rose (1922).

In 1922 Starke was elected to the elite company of the WAMPAS Baby Stars, assuring great roles through the end of the decade. In 1927 she married comedy director/writer/producer Jack White, a union that lasted through 1931. The coming of sound appears to have affected Starke’s viability as a leading lady. Some of her last starring films were The Viking (1928); Man, Woman and Wife (1929) and What Men Want (1930).

After a lull, 1935 was an eventful year for Starke. She starred in an independent feature called Twenty Dollars a Week and married stage and screen actor/director/producer George Sherwood. After this, Starke’s only credits are a couple of extra roles, in She Knew All the Answers (1941) and Lost Angel (1943). Though Sherwood had directed three shows on Broadway, he too worked mostly as a bit player in Hollywood, keeping before the camera through 1953. His last hurrah was a self-directed, self-produced from called The Big Hunt (1959).

For more on silent film, read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube

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