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24-05-2006
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from : http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/16/asta.html

Asta Nielsen

Meet Asta, the gender-bending silent-era Danish actress of whom Garbo said, “She taught me everything I know ...”

BY GARY MORRIS
Some of the most memorable images from films of the 1930s are based on the idea of strong women who resist, even dissolve, gender boundaries: Dietrich, dressed in a man's suit, offering a rare lesbian kiss in Blonde Venus; Hepburn convincing us she's a boy in Sylvia Scarlett; Garbo as a mannish ruler, staring into the camera at the end of Queen Christina. If audiences were not entirely unprepared for such imagery, it was probably because of another star with a single name who was doing the same thing more than two decades earlier. This is not mere speculation; Garbo herself acknowledged the woman who co-starred with her in The Joyless Street, saying "she taught me everything I know."

The spiritual godmother of these women was Asta Nielsen, an unjustly forgotten Danish silent movie actress who is often called "the first great international star." Asta, or "Die Asta" — never "Asta Nielsen" or "Miss Nielsen" — made 74 films between 1910 and 1932. At first glance she seems an unlikely diva. Her enormous dark eyes, thin lips, masklike face, and slender, boyish figure contrast starkly with prevailing female body norms, which tended toward the Rubensesque. But Asta, who started her own production company in 1921, became the model of the self-made, self-possessed androgynous artiste.

Born in 1881 in Copenhagen, she was largely self-invented, emerging from a working-class background with few prospects beyond achieving her mother's wish that she become a shopgirl. Her theatrical aspirations dovetailed with Denmark's growing women's liberation movement, and as a teenager she entered the drama school of the Royal Theater of Copenhagen, where she became pregnant. Her decision to have her child without being married was shocking at the time but typical of her tenacity and unshakable individualism. In 1902 she began acting on the Danish stage, and in 1910 made her first film, The Abyss (Aufgrunden).

The Abyss was important in establishing from the beginning key components of her legend: scandalous eroticism and a uniquely minimalist acting style. Here Asta plays a music teacher lured away from her stolid fiancee by a sexy but faithless circus cowboy. In a startling sequence of sexual intensity, she lassos her boyfriend and does a lewd dance, bumping and grinding against him. This vulgar "gaucho-dance" was what most viewers remembered, but critics of the time also applauded Asta's naturalistic acting, unknown in a silent cinema noted for its wild theatrical gesturing and overwrought grimacing. In her autobiography, the actress commented on this: "I realized that one had to detach oneself completely from one's surroundings in order to be able to perform an important scene in a dramatic film. The opportunity to develop character and mood gradually, something denied the film actor, can only be replaced by a kind of 'auto-suggestion.' " Throughout her career she used this trance state at key moments to force the viewer to respond imaginatively to what was happening — an effect that, combined with her masklike face and minimal gestures, gives the strange feeling of watching a present-day actress who has dropped suddenly into silent movies.

After a handful of Danish films, Asta moved to Germany with her husband, set designer Urban Gad. In the next six years, she played every conceivable kind of character in tragedies and comedies — actresses, unwed mothers, society girls, gypsies, even children (at 35 she played a 12-year-old in one of her films). Activist and androgynous roles were regularly reprised. In The Militant Suffragette (1913), she is an English female liberationist whose beliefs force her to become violent, placing a bomb in Parliament. In Zapata's Band (1916) she plays a highway robber. In the comedy The ABCs of Love (1916), she pretends to be a man and takes her wimpy boyfriend out on the town in order to "bring out the man in him."

The actress had trouble with censors from the beginning. In 1912, The Abyss was announced for American release as Woman Always Pays, but it was so badly mutilated by censors disgusted by her erotic dancing that the film was panned. This scenario would repeat itself throughout her career, most notably 13 years later with the film for which she is best known, Pabst's The Joyless Street. In the original prints, Asta, playing an impoverished woman who resorts to prostitution and murder, was one of two equal-time female leads. Ruthlessly cut for American release, the film suddenly became a Greta Garbo vehicle, with only snippets of the woman Garbo said "taught me everything I know." Fortunately, the print has been restored and Asta triumphs in the role of the increasingly unbalanced Marie.

One of Asta's most interesting productions of the 1920s was Hamlet (1921). There was certainly precedent for major stage actresses playing male roles — Eleanora Duse did it often. But Asta brings a subtle twist to her version not by playing a man, but by playing a woman disguised as a man, adding another level of gender complexity. Hamlet was based less on Shakespeare than on a popular book of the time that said Hamlet was actually a girl forcibly raised as a boy in order to provide an heir to the Danish throne. At first the effect is more puzzling than effective, but the actress's strategy becomes evident in sexually charged scenes between Asta/Hamlet and Horatio, who caress and coddle each other in what surely appeared to viewers of the time (as it does to modern audiences) as a gay tryst. Asta brilliantly imparts the gender-unstable nature of the character in these scenes with Horatio and others with Fortinbras, whose encounters with Hamlet are also clearly coded as gay. The actress's effortless creation of these subtle, sympathetic homosexual tableaux gives a tremendous vitality to this production. The fact that the film was truly hers — being the first film she made with her own production company — shows just how daring and modern she was.

Asta retired from the screen after making only one talkie in 1932. Allegedly unable to adapt her "silent language" to the new medium, she returned to stage acting, wrote articles on art and politics and a two-volume autobiography, and became an acclaimed collage artist. The woman the poet Apollinaire called "the drunkard's vision and the lonely man's dream" died in 1972 at age 90.

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24-05-2006
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Great article

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25-06-2006
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Lillian Gish in "Broken Blossoms" (1919)

Quote:


D. W. Griffith reached a pinnacle of expressiveness in this tender yet tragic tale of love and suffering in the seedy Limehouse district of London.


Richard Barthelmess gives a sensitive portrayal of a Chinese man who travels to England to spread the pacifist teachings of the Orient, but it is Lillian Gish who illuminates the screen. In this, the most heart-rending performance of her career, she plays a fifteen-year-old street urchin who longs to escape her miserable existence. Emotionally scarred by the torment and neglect of her abusive father (Donald Crisp), she collapses in the shop of the lonely and disillusioned "yellow man." As he tenderly nurses her back to health, an unspoken romance flowers between them, awakening in each of them feelings of love they thought themselves forever denied.


In some ways, Broken Blossoms was Griffith's response to critics of The Birth Of A Nation, an effort to clear himself of lingering charges of racism. However, cinematic convention forbade physical intimacy between the two races. With this in mind, Griffith took what might have been a bold interracial romance and turned it into something more ethereal: a form of cinematic poetry that engages the viewer through subtle gestures and changes of expression, meticulously choreographed and gracefully assembled.


Featuring Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp. This exclusive Kino on Video edition was digitally remastered from a 35mm print at the correct projection speed, with color tints and a new score by Joseph Turrin, recorded in digital stereo.
kino.com

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20-09-2006
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i came across this bunch of pics by chance while strolling around on ebay.they´re alll from 1917.the quality is rather bad and i don´t know anything about these actresses. i certainly cannot compete with the pics and information that have already been posted in this thread,but i thought this thread definitely needed to be revived again (for entirely selfish reasons as i admit ).i think the pics justify this purpose ...

source:ebay
Attached Images
File Type: jpg teensactresses-dolorescasinellis.jpg (30.5 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg teensactresses-evelyngreeley.jpg (26.9 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg teensactresses-elinorfair.jpg (32.1 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg teensactresses-josephinehill.jpg (34.2 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg teensactresses-margaritafischer.jpg (35.5 KB, 0 views)

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20-09-2006
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and while i´m at it...i found this picture on ebay a while ago.i was mesmerized by this dark lady,but the description only said french stage actress and i have no idea who she was.perhaps someone else could shed some light .
Attached Images
File Type: jpg thea.jpg (15.2 KB, 2 views)

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08-08-2008
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This thread is so incredible.

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Biography for
Fern Andra






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Date of Birth

24 November 1893, Watseka, Illinois, USA

Date of Death

8 February 1974, Aiken, South Carolina, USA (cancer)

Birth Name

Vernal Edna Andrews

Height

5' 3" (1.60 m)

Mini Biography

Fern Andre's show-business career started as an aerialist with a troupe that toured the U.S. and Europe. In Vienna she became a student of famed director/teacher Max Reinhardt and appeared in several of his plays and films. She soon settled in Berlin, where she starred in several productions for UFA Studios, some of which she also produced and directed. She also appeared in British and French films. In the sound era she returned to the United States, but after making only two films, she retired.
IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Spouse

General Samuel Edge Dockrell(1938 - 1973) (his death)Ian Keith(15 February 1934 - ?)Kurt Prenzel(1923 - ?) (divorced)Baron Friedrich von Weichs(? - 1917) (his death)
Trivia

She was a surviving passenger when a plane piloted by Lothar von Richthofen -- brother of Manfred von Richthofen -- experienced engine failure and crashed on 4 July 1922. Von Richthofen was killed in the crash. Fern's director Georg Bluen, also a passenger, died the next day. Fern was an Allied spy in World War I.
She remarried Ian Keith the second time because there was a question about the legality of the first ceremony in 1932

source:imdb.com

A former circus performer, Fern Andra (aka Fern Edna Andrews aka Fern Andrée) was a German film star of the 1910s, writing, directing, producing, and starring in her own films. One of her most memorable roles was that of wicked vamp Genuine in Robert Wiene's CALIGARI successor GENUINE (1920).

source:filmhistoriker.de

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imdb.com:
Biography for
Pearl White More at IMDb Pro »





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Date of Birth

4 March 1889, Green Ridge, Missouri, USA

Date of Death

4 August 1938, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France (cirrhosis of the liver)

Birth Name

Pearl Fay White

Mini Biography

Born on her father's farm in Green Ridge, Missouri, the youngest of five children. Moved with her family to Springfield, Missouri, where she grew up. Joined the Diemer Theatre Company during her second year of high school, and went on the road with a touring stock company at age 18, in 1907. Signed by the Powers Film Co. in New York in 1910, and proceeded to work thereafter for many companies in starring roles. In 1914, she starred in Pathe's The Perils of Pauline, the fifth serial chapter play ever made. She became an international star therein and was the leading heroine of serial films for the next several years. Following an unsuccessful attempt to achieve the same success in feature films, and with her health deteriorating, she retired in 1923, living in France until her death in 1938.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver

Mini Biography

She met her first husband when they were touring together in the Trousdale Stock Company, a repertoire group. Her second husband was an actor and war hero. Her second husband was distraught over the dissolution of the marriage, and disappeared only weeks after the divorce. It was believed that he had committed suicide, until he reappeared in May 1923. On 27 January 1928, he fatally shot himself. When found, his pockets were bulging with clippings about Pearl. She gained her initial fame by performing her own dangerous and life-threatening stunts. Stunt doubles were used after her popularity surged, and the studio became concerned for her safety. On 10 August 1922, during the filming of Plunder, John Stevenson - her stand-in/stunt double - was killed while attempting a dangerous stunt. A rumor immediately spread that she had been killed, and a slight scandal arose when it was revealed that she had used a stand-in. Soon afterward, she went to Paris and subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown. The breakdown was attributed in part to her guilt over Stevenson and McCutcheon. She remained in seclusion in France until McCutcheon's reappeareance in May 1923. She was buried in the Passy Cemetery in Paris, her tombstone bears only her name.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse

Wallace McCutcheon Jr.(June 1919 - 26 July 1921) (divorced)Victor Sutherland(11 October 1907 - 24 April 1914) (divorced)
Trade Mark

She was famous for her blond hair, which was actually a wig she began wearing early in her career. She discovered that it photographed better than her own naturally dark hair, and it eventually became her trademark. Whenever she wished to be unnoticed in public, she would appear without the wig - using her own hair as a disguise.

Trivia

She was one of five children born to a farmer and his wife, the wife dying when Pearl was only three years old.
Pearl went on the stage starting at the age of six, playing Little Eva in a production of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" to earn money for the family.
While performing with the Trousdale Stock Company, she met her first husband, actor Victor Sutherland.
Around 1914-1915 she was the most popular female star in silent films, for a time even topping Mary Pickford's popularity at the box office.
Second husband, actor/director Wallace McCutcheon Jr. had been gassed in World War One, later suffered mental problems and eventually committed suicide.
Flying airplanes, racing cars and swimming across rivers, Pearl did much of her own dangerous stunt work and as a result she suffered a number injuries that forced her to begin using a stunt double in her later films. Over the years, White's alcohol use increased substantially to help numb her chronic pain from all those injuries. In 1933 she had to be hospitalized for alcoholism and became addicted to the drugs used during her treatment.
Born into poverty, she later became a shrewd businesswoman, investing in a successful Parisian nightclub, a Biarritz resort hotel/casino, plus a profitable stable of thoroughbred race horses.


Personal Quotes

"I have actually gotten to like fear."

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Henny Porten

1890 - 1960
.
.
Henny Porten belonged to the most impressive stars of the film and personified the three figureheads of the German film togehter with Asta Nielsen and Pola Negri. She made her first cinematic experiences already in 1906. But these weren't movies as we know today but were composed of sound pictures which also could be used in peepboxes.
Her real career started with the movie "Schuld und Sühne" (10). With it Henny Porten was very early built up to be a star.
With "Eva" (13) they launched the first Henny-Porten-Starfilm serial. At the same time sie personified the ideal "in a beautiful shape is a beautiful soul".
The Porten movies belonged to the biggest box-office hits since 1916. When the movie "Anna Boleyn" (20) with Emil Jannings came to the pictures, the film didn't only cause a sensation in Germany, but also caused quite a stir in the USA, what led to an invitation to Hollywood for both actors.
But Henny Porten decided to found her own production company and produced some movies before the company went bankrupt in 1923. After that it followed a time of fruitlessness before she achieved a new success with her film "Mutter und Kind" in 1924.
To the highlights of her silent movie career counts "Rose Bernd" (19), "Kohlhiesels Töchter" (20), "Die Geier-Wally" (21), "Der Kaufmann von Venedig" (23), "Das alte Gesetz" (23), "I.N.R.I." (23) and "Zuflucht" (28).
In 1930 she did her first step into the film sound business with G.W. Pabst's movie "Skandal um Eva" and let hope for a successful continuation of her career. But with the rise of the National Socialists and her refusal to separate with her Jewish husband, her film work became impeded by Goebbels. She only got small parts and it lasted till 1943 before she was able to take on a bigger part in the two-parter "Familie Buchholz" und "Neigungsehe". When the wartime was over she still didn't get acceptable offers. Finally she decided in 1953 to go to the new founded GDR where she got several film offers from the DEFA like "Carola Lamberti" (54) and "Das Fräulein von Scuderie" (55). In 1955 she came back again to her home town (West-) Berlin but there she got no longer any offers for movies. She became totally poor and was expelled from the audience's heart when she died in Berlin.



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Quote:
Originally Posted by somnambule View Post
and while i´m at it...i found this picture on ebay a while ago.i was mesmerized by this dark lady,but the description only said french stage actress and i have no idea who she was.perhaps someone else could shed some light .
I searched "Thea" on imdb and came up with Teresa Termini. I then Googled that name and came up with a photo from flickr and a blurb! (Imdb didn't really have anything other than the movies she was in.)

(photo and blurb from flickr)

The Blurb:

She looks so innocent, but in Il Giogo (1919), Italian actress Thea is a double natured woman. Zoe's foster father, dr. Caselli, has raised this daughter of an assassin together with his own daughter Rita, trying to confirm his theories that a character's individual is based on the expression of its surroundings. Zoe first seems a perfectly educated girl, but then shows her true nature. She steals Rita's fiancee Riccardo, but also has an affair with an adventurer, with whom she secretly visits orgiastic parties. Riccardo discovers Zoe's true nature, tells Rita & her father, and the poor doctor has to admit his theories are worthless. Zoe ends as a dancer in an ill-reputed tavern.

Thea, originally Teresa Termini (born 1898), debuted in Italian silent film in 1915, with the film I Martiri di Belfiore (Augusta Film), a patriottic and anti-Austrian period piece, set in Mantova 1851 and directed by Alberto Carlo Lolli. The leads were played by Enna Saredo and Achille Vitti, Teresa had only a minor part. In 1916 Thea had only one role, it seems, in L'albergo nero, released only in 1920. So after I Martiri di Belfiore it took two years before she was again visible on the screen in Il segreto di Jack (dir. Henrique Santos, Cines 1917), in which Termini used her nom de plume Thea for the first time and in which she had the lead opposite a monkey called Jack. The reviewer of La Cine-fono demanded Thea to stop 'borelleggiare', that is act just like Lyda Borelli, and to be more natural, precise and characteristic. That critique of Borelli epigone remained in subsequent films. Il segreto di Jack though, proved to be such a successful film, that Thea's career really took off. Next followed two films with Aurele Sydney: Una strana avventura (dir. Sydney, Cines 1918) and L'Incubo (dir. Amleto Palermi, Cines 1918), and in between La reginetta Isotta (dir. unknown, Cines 1918). In 1919 Thea was very active, considering her output of performances in six different films: Primerose (dir.Mario Caserini, Cines), inspired by Borelli's debut Ma l'amor mio non muore whch had been directed by the same Caserini; La notte del 24 aprile (dir. unknown, Celio 1919); Incantesimo (dir. Ugo Gracci, Medusa-Film 1919); Il giogo (dir. Gaston Ravel, Cines 1919); L'agguato della morte (dir. Amleto Palermi, Cines 1919); and Capitan Fracassa (dir. Mario Caserini, Palatino-Film, 1919). Except for Incantesimo, Thea had the female lead in all the other films. If the reviewers didn't like her very much, she did attract huge crowds, in particular as the real Lyda Borelli had retired from acting in the previous year 1918, because of her marriage to count Vittorio Cini. Thea's last film was L'Albergo nero (1920), produced already in 1916 but only released in 1920. Director Gustavo Serena also played the male lead. Critics complained about the incomprehensability of the film, which might have had to do with cuts by the censor. In 1920 Thea married and withdrew from the screen, just like her big example Borelli had done.

Today almost all films of Thea are lost.
In 1991 a fragment of La notte del 24 aprile was found at the Netherlands Filmmuseum and presented at the Cinema Ritrovato film festival in Bologna.



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thanks so much for your research ,luxury´s lap.i´m very interested in italian silent films and actresses but i had never heard of her before (obviously even the seller didn´t know who she was : "french stage actress").so this information is very much appreciated.the picture you posted makes me dream in its sheer beauty.

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since she started her film carreer in1916 with griffith´s intolerance and all the pics i´m going to post are from the same decade i thought i´d put them in this thread...

imdb.com:

Biography for
Bessie Love More at IMDbPro »



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Date of Birth

10 September 1898, Midland, Texas, USA


Date of Death

26 April 1986, London, England, UK


Birth Name

Juanita Horton


Height

5' (1.52 m)


Mini Biography

Bessie Love was born in Texas. Her cowboy father moved the family to Hollywood, where he became a chiropractor. As the family needed money, Bessie's mother sent her to Biograph Studios, hoping she would become an actress. D.W. Griffith saw she was pretty and had some acting talent, and put her in several of his films, also giving her a small part in Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916). Bessie became popular with audiences and worked with Douglas Fairbanks in Reggie Mixes In (1916) and William S. Hart in The Aryan (1916). She then moved to Vitagraph and starred in a number of comedy-dramas. In the 1920s she began to act in more mature roles, such as Those Who Dance (1924), and also began working on the stage. She performed the first screen "Charleston" dance in The King on Main Street (1925), and gave one of her best performances in Cecil B. DeMille's lavish Dress Parade (1927). When sound movies came into vogue, she made a number of them and received an Academy Award nomination for The Broadway Melody (1929). By 1931, however, her career was over. She moved to England in 1935 and entertained the troops during World War II. By the 1950s she started playing small roles in movies such as No Highway (1951). She played in a handful of low-budget films from the 1950s through the 1970s. In the 1980s she appeared in the big-budget Ragtime (1981) which starred James Cagney, and later that year in Reds (1981) which starred Warren Beatty.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana


Spouse

William B. Hawks(1929 - 1935) (divorced) 1 daughter


Trivia

Wrote the play "The Homecoming" in 1958.
Worked for the Red Cross during WWII.
D.W. Griffith, who introduced Bessie to films, also gave the actress her screen moniker.
Sister-in-law of Howard Hawks and Kenneth Hawks, cousin-in-law of Carole Lombard.
WAMPAS Baby Star of 1922.
Her daughter Patricia was born in 1932.

source:
" from hollywood with love" by bessie love (scanned by me)











from the movie "a daughter of the poor"



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and from ebay:



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this picture is definitely one of my favourites.i scanned it once more hoping i could obtain a better quality...it seems slightly better or is my wishful thinking leading my mind to hallucinate??well anyway here it is once more...



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henny porten,i´ve already introduced her earlier in this thread....the first german silent film star.here is just one more pc.love the "loose softness" of her look!


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