Known as "The Girl with the Most Beautiful Face in Hollywood," Anita Page's career was over after only a decade, even though, at one point, she had attained a degree of popularity at MGM second only t...
Flushing, Queens, NY
|The Broadway Melody||Actor||Queenie Mahoney||N/A||1|
|Jungle Bride||Actor||Doris Evans||N/A||1|
|The Sidewalks of New York (1931)||Actor||Margie||1931||1|
|Free and Easy (1930)||Actor||Elvira Plunkett||1930||1|
|The Big Cage||Actor||Lillian Langley||N/A||1|
|The Little Accident||Actor||Isabel||N/A||1|
|Navy Blues||Actor||Alice Brown||N/A||1|
|Soldiers of the Storm||Actor||Natalie||N/A||1|
|Telling the World||Actor||Chrystal Malone||N/A||1|
|Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood||Actor||n/a||N/A||1|
|Are You Listening?||Actor||Sally||N/A||1|
|Caught Short||Actor||Genevieve Jones||N/A||1|
|Night Court||Actor||Mary Thomas||N/A||1|
|The Flying Fleet||Actor||Anita||N/A||1|
|Hitch Hike to Heaven||Actor||Claudia Revelle||N/A||1|
|The Flying Feet||Actor||Anita||N/A||1|
|Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)||Actor||n/a||1929||1|
|Bob's Night Out (2013)||Actor||n/a||2013||1|
|Our Blushing Brides (1929)||Actor||Connie||1929||1|
|Our Modern Maidens (1928)||Actor||Kentucky||1928||1|
|The Easiest Way (1930)||Actor||n/a||1930||1|
|Our Dancing Daughters (1927)||Actor||Ann||1927||1|
|Witchcraft XI (1998)||Actor||Sister Seraphina||1998||1|
|Had a small role in "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em"|
|Appeared in the horror feature, "Witchcraft XI: Sister's in Blood"|
|Announced her retirement from acting at age 26|
|Portrayed Clark Gable's first on screen love interest in "The Easiest Way"|
|First talkie, "Broadway Melody" (the first sound film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture)|
|Second collaboration with Crawford, "Our Modern Maidens"|
|Film debut as extra, "A Kiss for Cinderella"|
|First teamed with Buster Keaton in "Free and Easy"|
|Cast opposite Ramon Novarro in "The Flying Fleet"|
|Offered one of her finest roles was as the prostitute, Jenny LeGrand, in the pre-Code movie, "Skyscraper Souls"|
|Final film starring opposite Joan Crawford, "Our Blushing Brides"|
|Signed with MGM Studios|
|Returned to the screen after sixty years retirement with a cameo in the straight-to-video "Sunset After Dark"|
|Played a socialite in "Bob's Night Out" (filmed in 1997)|
|Final film appearance, "Frankenstein Rising"|
|Made final film (in the UK), "Hitchhike to Heaven"|
|First film with Joan Crawford, "Our Dancing Daughters"|
|First MGM film, "Telling the World"|
|Second collaboration with Keaton, "Sidewalks of New York"|
Anita Page was born Anita Evelyn Pomares in Flushing, NY on Aug. 4, 1910 and broke into the movies while still a teen. After undertaking some modelling assignments, her picture was spotted by an agent. This led to Page making some uncredited appearances - including 1926's "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em," co-starring Louise Brooks, and the comic short "Beach Nuts," which was lensed in Cuba - before being offered contracts by both Paramount and MGM. She signed a seven-year contract with the latter, which included a starting salary of $3,000 a week. The company paired her with established leading men like William "Billy" Haines in "Telling the World" (1928) and Lon Chaney in "While the City Sleeps" (1928) and those movies introduced Page to the public. However, when she was cast with Joan Crawford, another rising MGM starlet, Page became a popular attraction herself. "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928) was a box office smash and both actresses returned for a pair of follow-ups, "Our Modern Maidens" (1929) and "Our Blushing Brides" (1930). A fourth film, "Great Day," was started in 1930, but ultimately never finished. In spite of their shared success in the past, the two women allegedly grew to loathe each other and did not speak when off the set.
The arrival of the talkies derailed the careers of several silent era stars, but Page made the successful transition in MGM's musical spectacular "The Broadway Melody" (1929). The film sold a multitude of tickets and was the first Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards. Among its highlights was a scene where Charles King sings "You Were Meant for Me" to Page. She quickly became identified with the song, so the studio had Conrad Nagel croon it to her a second time in "The Hollywood Revue of 1929" (1929), though it was actually King's voice on the soundtrack. MGM kept their new star busy, with Page doing 11 movies in two years. Her popularity soared and at one point, she was receiving over 10,000 fan letters per week, including a number from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini proposing marriage. In spite of this adoration, Page never quite attained the A-list status of Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer or Joan Crawford. She remained an engaging presence, however, and appeared in "Gentlemen's Fate" (1930), opposite John Gilbert, and with Buster Keaton in "Free and Easy" (1930) and "Sidewalks of New York" (1931). Two of her pictures from this stage, "Night Court" (1932) and "Skyscraper Souls" (1932) remain of particular interest to fans of pre-Code films for their soon-to-be-taboo adult themes, with Page cast as a prostitute in the latter.
By all accounts, Page enjoyed her celebrity and the privilege that came with it. She remained out of the headlines for the most part, but in addition to the feud with Crawford, she did have other unusual occurrences behind the scenes. At some point after they appeared together in "Telling the World," Page was allegedly proposed to by Haines. Openly gay at a time when this was hardly encouraged, particularly by conservative movie studio bosses like Louis B. Mayer, Haines' refusal to hide his preferences caused his career to nosedive. Haines may have been trying to get back on track by using the actress - who was said to be unaware of his homosexuality - as a "beard," but ultimately his days as an actor were numbered. Another of Page's co-stars, Ramon Novarro, was also gay and dated her for a time, reportedly with similar intent. During her time as a member of the Hollywood jet set, Page was a frequent guest of William Randolph Hearst and at one point, lived at his San Simeon castle for six months.
It was commonplace for actors under contract to be loaned to other studios, but this rarely happened to Page until 1933, when MGM began regularly farming her out to smaller studios for decidedly smaller pictures, like the Monogram potboiler "Jungle Bride" (1933) and the Clyde Beatty vehicle "The Big Cage" (1933). The actress claimed that her fall in favor at the studio was due in part to her rejecting the sexual advances of Mayer and MGM producer Irving Thalberg. The following year, Page married popular composer Nacio Herb Brown, who had scored "The Broadway Melody" and dedicated "You Were Meant for Me" to the actress, but their Tijuana union was annulled after less than a year. Her MGM contract was also now over and following a sixth billed appearance in the independently made drama "Hitch Hike to Heaven" (1936), Page decided to retire. She wed Navy Admiral Herschel House the following year and the couple remained together until his death in 1991.
It had long been assumed that there was a 60-year gap between "Hitch Hike to Heaven" and Page's return to acting, but this proved untrue when "The Runaway" (1961) appeared on Turner Classic Movies in 2008. The family film, which featured Page in a supporting role as a nun, did not find a distributor after production finished and sat unseen for almost 50 years until it was dusted off for that TV showing. In the mid-1990s, Page made a second return, though the films at that time tended to be of a much lower quality level than the 1930s indies she had appeared in years before. Marginal releases even on video and DVD, "Sunset After Dark" (1996), "Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood" (2000), "The Crawling Brain" (2002), and "Bob's Night Out" (2004) hardly made the best use of the elderly actress, though she did also share memories of her career and Golden Age Hollywood to various film historians. Page made her final appearance as Elizabeth Frankenstein in "Frankenstein Rising" (2010), which was shot in 2008, the year she died of natural causes at age 98. Page was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
By John Charles
|Nacio Brown||Husband||Married July 26, 1934; Marriage annulled April 5, 1935 because Brown's previous divorce had not been finalized at the time of wedding|
|Herschel House||Husband||Married Jan. 9, 1937 until his death Dec. 31, 1991|
|Washington Irving High School|
|On filming early talkies: "It was very hot. They had to use a lot of things like cheesecloth on the set because of the sound. One day I was sitting down in this scene, and everytime we'd start, there would be this rat-tat-tat. We'd look all over the set wondering what on earth it was - and it was me filing my nails! Once we heard a rustle and they found it was my petticoat - I had to take it off. And of course, you couldn't have your mood music while you were working. I loved working with the music. There were a lot of things we had to worry about in talkies. If someone opened a door, it stopped the whole scene." - Anita Page quoted in Classic Images, February 1993|
|In a 2004 interview with author Scott Feinberg, she claimed that her refusal to meet demands for sexual favors by MGM head of production Irving Thalberg, supported by studio chief Louis B. Mayer, is what truly ended her career. She said that Mayer colluded with the other studio bosses to ban her and other uncooperative actresses from finding work.|
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