Silents of the Vamps: Bad Girls You Don’t Know But Should

There is truth in advertising! As revealed on Travalanche, I much enjoyed Jennifer Ann Redmond’s previous two books, Reels and Rivals: Sisters in Silent Film and Southern Belle to Hollywood Hell: The Rise and Fall of Corliss Palmer. Yet, I confess I was a tad skeptical about the subtitle of her latest, Silents of the Vamps: Bad Girls You Don’t Know But Should. Ordinarily, such apparent hyperbole will apply to the vast majority of folks who aren’t hardcore film buffs, i.e., not to me! So I was expecting, ya know, Theda Bara, Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson, the usual suspects. (Maybe you and I know ’em, reader, but I assure you that Joe Six Pack and Moe Millennial do not.)

I will never doubt you again, Jennifer! To my delight, I turned to the table of contents to find 11 names only a couple of which I semi-recognized: Alice Hollister, Carmen Phillips, Claire de Lorez, DeSacia Mooers, Edna Tichenor, Iva Shepard, Marcia Manon, Olga Grey, Rosa Rudami, Rosemary Theby, and Ruth Taylor. And lest ye think that just because you don’t know ’em these screen vamps aren’t worth your time, you’d be very wrong. Each of Redmond’s subjects starred in major movies of their day; they’ve simply been forgotten over time. And by forgotten, I mean VERY forgotten. Few of these actresses, for example, are featured on Travalanche, or are likely to be, although I did recently write about Rosemary Theby’s husband and sometime co-star Harry Myers, so I might write about her.

If you’re an average person and not a silent film addict you may be wondering, “If they’re all that obscure, who is this book for?” The answer is ANY hardcore film buff. Trust me! When you are buying gifts for a movie loving loved-one, ya need to push the envelope. Nothing’s worse than the well-meaning movie-book gift containing nothing but ground you already covered in your exploration 20 years ago! New blood, that’s what’s wanted! That’s what’s scarce. And Redmond’s researched these actresses all exhaustively. And presented it with a dose of welcome humor. And while it’s not an art or photography book per se, there are lots of cool pix. And once read, the book’s a keeper as a reference work. Another happy addition to my library! (Also, the elephant in the room: it’s full of sexy women).

Get Silents of the Vamps here.