Henry B. Walthall
Henry Brazeale Walthall was an American stage and film actor. He appeared. Henry B. Walthall was born March 16, 1878, on a cotton plantation owned by his father in Shelby County, Alabama, his father had been a captain in the Confederate army. Walthall worked full time alongside his father in the 1890s capturing and selling black Americans into forced labor, he was educated by an uncle who lent books to him. He studied at Howard College for six months. In 1898, during the Spanish–American War, he enlisted in the First Alabama Regiment, he contracted malaria while in camp in Jacksonville and the war ended before he had recovered. He served 11 months, when his regiment was discharged he returned home. With $100, he left for New York to make his career on the stage, he played small parts with the Murray Hill Theater stock company. He became affiliated with the American Theater stock company and soon afterward joined the Providence, Rhode Island, stock company. In New York in 1901, Walthall won a role in Under Southern Skies by Charlotte Blair Parker.
He performed in New York and on tour. With the company of Henry Miller he gained recognition on Broadway in plays including Pippa Passes, The Only Way and William Vaughn Moody's The Great Divide, his fellow cast member James Kirkwood introduced Walthall to D. W. Griffith, at the conclusion of that engagement, Walthall joined the Biograph Company, his career in movies began in 1909 at Biograph Studios in New York with a leading role in the film A Convict's Sacrifice. This film featured James Kirkwood, was directed by D. W. Griffith, a director that played a huge part in Walthall's rise to stardom; as the industry grew in size and popularity, Griffith emerged as a director and Walthall found himself a mainstay of the Griffith company working alongside such Griffith regulars as Owen Moore, Kate Bruce and Dorothy Gish, Mae Marsh, Bobby Harron and Jack and Mary Pickford. He followed Griffith's departure from New York's Biograph to California's Reliance-Majestic Studios in 1913. After a few months with Reliance, he joined Pathé for a short period.
He decided to go into the producing business and formed The Union Feature Film Company, the first to be devoted to full-length films. The venture was not successful, he again became associated with Griffith's company. Given the short length of films in the early years, Walthall found himself cast in dozens of films each year, he gained national attention in 1915 for his role as Colonel Ben Cameron in Griffith's influential and controversial epic, The Birth of a Nation. Walthall's portrayal of a Confederate veteran rounding up the Ku Klux Klan won him large-scale fame, Walthall was soon able to emerge as a leading actor in the years leading up to the 1920s, parting ways with Griffith. Walthall continued working in films through the 1920s, appearing in The Plastic Age with Gilbert Roland and Clara Bow, he portrayed Roger Chillingworth in Victor Seastrom's 1926 adaptation of The Scarlet Letter opposite Lillian Gish. Walthall continued his career into the 1930s. After his performance in director John Ford's 1934 film Judge Priest starring Will Rogers he enjoyed a golden period of his career.
He portrayed Dr. Manette in A Tale of Two Cities. In 1936 he appeared as Marcel in The Devil-Doll, he was gravely ill during China Clipper. Frank Capra wanted Walthall to portray the High Lama in Lost Horizon. "Frail and failing, he died before we could test him," Capra wrote. Walthall has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard. Lillian Gish described Walthall as "a slight man, about five feet six, fine-boned, with the face of a poet and a dreamer." She recalled his patience while Griffith grappled with technical problems filming the epilogue of Home, Sweet Home, a scene in which Gish, as an angel, lifts Walthall's character out of hell. "There was a long discussion while Walthall and I, encased in leather harness, hung on the guide wires. Wally, a true southern gentleman, didn't raise his voice, didn't complain, his marriage to actress Isabel Fenton ended in divorce. His second marriage, to Irish actress Mary Charleson, lasted from 1918 until his death in 1936. Exhausted from months of uninterrupted film work, Walthall collapsed on the Warner Bros. set after completing his scenes in the film China Clipper, in which he portrayed an airplane inventor.
He entered the Pasteur Sanitarium at Monrovia and died of an intestinal illness three weeks on June 17, 1936. Henry B. Walthall on IMDb Henry B. Walthall at the Internet Broadway Database Tribute Site portrait of Henry B. Walthall Literature on Henry B. Walthall
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound. In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be conveyed by the use of title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines; the idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system. During the silent-film era that existed from the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or in large cities, a small orchestra—would play music to accompany the films. Pianists and organists would play either from improvisation; the term silent film is a retronym—a term created to retroactively distinguish something. Early sound films, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, were variously referred to as the "talkies," "sound films," or "talking pictures." Within a decade, the widespread production of silent films for popular entertainment had ceased, the industry had moved into the sound era, in which movies were accompanied by synchronized sound recordings of spoken dialogue and sound effects.
Most early motion pictures are considered lost because the nitrate film used in that era was unstable and flammable. Additionally, many films were deliberately destroyed because they had little value in the era before home video, it has been claimed that around 75 percent of silent films have been lost, though these estimates may be inaccurate due to a lack of numerical data. The earliest precursors to film began with image projection through the use of a device known as the magic lantern, which utilized a glass lens, a shutter, a persistent light source to project images from glass slides onto a wall; these slides were hand-painted, after the advent of photography in the 19th century, still photographs were sometimes used. Thus the invention of a practical photography apparatus preceded cinema by only fifty years; the next significant step toward the invention of cinema was the development of an understanding of image movement. Simulations of movement date as far back as to 1828—only four years after Paul Roget discovered the phenomenon he called "Persistence of Vision."
Roget showed that when a series of still images is shown at a considerable speed in front of a viewer's eye, the images merge into one registered image that appears to show movement. This is an optical illusion, since the image is not moving; this experience was further demonstrated through Roget's introduction of the thaumatrope, a device that spun at a high speed a disk with an image on its surface. The three features necessary for motion pictures to work were "a camera with sufficiently high shutter speed, a filmstrip capable of taking multiple exposures swiftly, means of projecting the developed images on a screen." The first projected proto-movie was made by Eadweard Muybridge between 1877 and 1880. Muybridge set up a row of cameras along a racetrack and timed image exposures to capture the many stages of a horse's gallop; the oldest surviving film was created by Louis Le Prince in 1888. It was a two-second film of people walking in "Oakwood streets" garden, titled Roundhay Garden Scene.
The development of American inventor Thomas Edison's Kinetograph, a photographic device that captured sequential images, his Kinetoscope, a device for viewing those images, allowed for the creation and exhibition of short films. Edison made a business of selling Kinetograph and Kinetoscope equipment, which laid the foundation for widespread film production. Due to Edison's lack of securing an international patent on his film inventions, similar devices were "invented" around the world. In France, for example and Louis Lumière created the Cinématographe, which proved to be a more portable and practical device than both of Edison's as it combined a camera, film processor, projector in one unit. In contrast to Edison's "peepshow"-style kinetoscope, which only one person could watch through a viewer, the cinematograph allowed simultaneous viewing by multiple people, their first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, shot in 1894, is considered the first true motion picture. The invention of celluloid film, strong and flexible facilitated the making of motion pictures.
This film was 35 mm wide and was pulled using four sprocket holes, which became the industry standard. This doomed the cinematograph; the art of motion pictures grew into full maturity in the "silent era". The height of the silent era was a fruitful period, full of artistic innovation; the film movements of Classical Hollywood as well as French Impressionism, German Expressionism, Soviet Montage began in this period. Silent filmmakers pioneered the art form to the extent that every style and genre of film-making of the 20th and 21st centuries has its artistic roots in the silent era; the silent era was a pioneering one from a technical point of view. Three-point lighting, the close-up, long shot and continuity editing all became prevalent long before silent films were replaced by "talking pictures" or "talkies" in the late 1920s; some scholars claim that the artistic quality of cinema decreased for several years, during the early 1930s, until film directors and production staff adapted to the new "talkies" around the late 1930s.
Motion Picture Production Code
The Motion Picture Production Code was the set of industry moral guidelines, applied to most United States motion pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968. It is popularly known as the Hays Code, after Will H. Hays, the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922 to 1945. Under Hays' leadership, the MPPDA known as the Motion Picture Association of America, adopted the Production Code in 1930, began rigidly enforcing it in mid-1934; the Production Code spelled out what was acceptable and what was unacceptable content for motion pictures produced for a public audience in the United States. From 1934 to 1954, the code was identified with Joseph Breen, the administrator appointed by Hays to enforce the code in Hollywood; the film industry followed the guidelines set by the code well into the late 1950s, but during this time, the code began to weaken due to the combined impact of television, influence from foreign films, controversial directors pushing boundaries, intervention from the courts, including the Supreme Court.
In 1968, after several years of minimal enforcement, the Production Code was replaced by the MPAA film rating system. In 1922, after several risqué films and a series of off-screen scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios enlisted Presbyterian elder Will H. Hays to rehabilitate Hollywood's image. Hollywood in the 1920s was badgered by a number of widespread scandals, such as the murder of William Desmond Taylor and alleged rape of Virginia Rappe by popular movie star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, which brought widespread condemnation from religious and political organizations. Many felt. Political pressure was increasing, with legislators in 37 states introducing one hundred movie censorship bills in 1921. Faced with the prospect of having to comply with hundreds, thousands, of inconsistent and changed decency laws in order to show their movies, the studios chose self-regulation as the preferable option. Hays was paid the then-lavish sum of $100,000 a year. Hays, Postmaster General under Warren G. Harding and former head of the Republican National Committee, served for 25 years as president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, where he "defended the industry from attacks, recited soothing nostrums, negotiated treaties to cease hostilities".
The move mimicked the decision Major League Baseball had made in hiring judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as League Commissioner the previous year to quell questions about the integrity of baseball in the wake of the 1919 World Series gambling scandal. In 1924, Hays introduced a set of recommendations dubbed "The Formula", which the studios were advised to heed, asked filmmakers to describe to his office the plots of pictures they were planning on making; the Supreme Court had decided unanimously in 1915 in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio that free speech did not extend to motion pictures, while there had been token attempts to clean up the movies before—such as when the studios formed the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry in 1916—little had come of the efforts. New York became the first state to take advantage of the Supreme Court's decision by instituting a censorship board in 1921. Virginia followed suit the following year, with eight individual states having a board by the advent of sound film, but many of these were ineffectual.
By the 1920s, the New York stage—a frequent source of subsequent screen material—had topless shows, performances filled with curse words, mature subject matters, sexually suggestive dialogue. Early in the sound system conversion process, it became apparent that what might be acceptable in New York would not be so in Kansas. Moviemakers were looking at the possibility that many states and cities would adopt their own codes of censorship, requiring a multiplicity of versions of movies made for national distribution. Self-censorship seemed a preferable outcome. In 1927, Hays suggested to studio executives. Irving G. Thalberg of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Sol Wurtzel of Fox, E. H. Allen of Paramount responded by collaborating on a list they called the "Don'ts and Be Carefuls", based on items that were challenged by local censor boards; this list consisted of eleven subjects best avoided and twenty-six to be handled carefully. The list was approved by the Federal Trade Commission, Hays created the Studio Relations Committee to oversee its implementation.
The controversy surrounding film standards came to a head in 1929. The Code enumerated a number of key points known as the "Don'ts" and "Be Carefuls": Resolved, That those things which are included in the following list shall not appear in pictures produced by the members of this Association, irrespective of the manner in which they are treated: Pointed profanity – by either title or lip – this includes the words "God", "Lord", "Jesus", "Christ", "hell", "damn", "Gawd", every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled.
A film still is a photograph taken on or off the set of a movie or television program during production. These photographs are taken in formal studio settings and venues of opportunity such as film stars' homes, film debut events, commercial settings; the photos were taken by studio photographers for promotional purposes. Such stills consisted of posed portraits, used for public display or free fan handouts, which are sometimes autographed, they can consist of posed or candid images taken on the set during production, may include stars, crew members or directors at work. The main purpose of such publicity stills is to help studios advertise and promote their new films and stars. Studios therefore send those photos along with press kits and free passes to as many movie-related publications as possible so as to gain free publicity; such photos were used by newspapers and magazines, for example, to write stories about the stars or the films themselves. Hence, the studio gains free publicity for its films, while the publication gains free stories for its readers.
Shots can be separately posed. During the course of filming, the still photographer takes shots of on-stage scenes; these photographs are called production stills. Another type of still generated during filming is the off-stage shot; the photographer takes. Separately posed stills include a wide variety of shots. Many of these have self-explanatory designations: seasonal gag shots, leg art, fashion stills, commercial tie-ups, poster art, clinch shots candids and in-costume studies. By far the most popular of these many kinds of film stills are those portraying glamour, menace or gag interpretations. Other separately posed images include make-up stills and wardrobe stills; these stills are used for matching from scene to scene, or for recreating a scene for a re-take. All details of the set, the costume and the cast make-up have to be exact, these stills serve as a useful resource to get that accomplished. Background “plates” or “stereos”, another type of still, enable the studio to create location scenes without leaving the premises, thus reducing the ultimate cost of production.
Movie still photography is considered a separate branch of movie making, that of marketing: "a still photographer works on set but is not directly involved in the making of a film. His role is to publicize, through his pictures and actors on magazines and other media." Film producer and cinematographer Brian Dzyak explains that the group of people who work on a film are referred to as the "company" or "unit." Among the professionals who are assigned to the unit, one is a "unit still photographer," whose job is to take still photos that the studios will use for marketing. They may take photos during rehearsals or while standing next to the cameraman during filming of takes. For glamour publicity stills, given out to the public and press to promote a particular star, "special shoots" are made in separate studios, containing controlled lighting, backgrounds and furnishings. Although the still photographer shares a number of skills and functions with the cinematographer, their work is very different.
The cinematographer is concerned with filming short scenes that will be edited into an entire movie. The still photographer is concerned with capturing dramatic photos that will draw attention when used on posters, DVD covers, advertising. Studios would therefore assign a still photographer to a production, in some cases as many as five still photographers worked on the same film; some stars, including Rita Hayworth, chose which photographer they wanted, in her case, Robert Coburn. Other notable still photographers were George Hurrell and Clarence Bull, known for being Greta Garbo's chosen photographer. Katharine Hepburn recalls her feelings when he photographed her: Clarence Bull was one of the greats — I was thrilled when I went to MGM to know that he was going to photograph me. I was terrified — Was I interesting enough? He had done Garbo for years — The pictures were extraordinary, her head — his lighting — they combined into something unique. The major and minor film studios have always used still photos of stars in a posed portrait, to send to the media to create "a buzz" for both their stars and any new films they were appearing in.
Studios "sent out tens of thousands of scene stills and portraits to newspapers and fans each year. Such photographs were marked with the photographer's name or with a credit line."Accordingly, the studio publicity departments used the stills "to sell a product," namely, a "particular film or an individual actor or actress." The distinction is relevant: "While the scene stills and on-the-set candid shots would be used to sell the movie, the portraits could be used to introduce a would-be star to an international audience.... The portrait photographer's function was to create and sell the image created by a publicity department around the life and look of a real person." The photos portrayed a star "without a role to hide behind... had to recognize the image which would serve as the essence of a lengthy publicity campaign, capturing it in a fraction of a second." The glamour close-up would become "Hollywood's principal contribution to still portraiture."Beyond basic publicity purposes, film stills were given to the actor
Gladys Louise Smith, known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-born American film actress and producer. With a career spanning 50 years, she was a co-founder of both the Pickford–Fairbanks Studio and the United Artists film studio, one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who present the yearly "Oscar" award ceremony. Pickford was known in her prime as "America's Sweetheart" and the "girl with the curls", she was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting. Pickford was one of the earliest stars to be billed under her own name, was one of the most popular actresses of the 1910s and 1920s, earning the nickname "Queen of the Movies", she is credited as having defined the ingénue archetype in cinema. She was awarded the second Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound-film role in Coquette and received an honorary Academy Award in 1976. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute ranked Pickford as 24th in its 1999 list of greatest female stars of classic Hollywood Cinema.
Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in 1892 at 211 University Avenue, Ontario. Her father, John Charles Smith, was the son of English Methodist immigrants, worked a variety of odd jobs, her mother, Charlotte Hennessey, was of Irish Catholic descent and worked for a time as a seamstress. She had two younger siblings, called "Lottie", John Charles, called "Jack", who became actors. To please her husband's relatives, Pickford's mother baptized her children as Methodists, the religion of their father. John Charles Smith was an alcoholic; when Gladys was age four, her household was under a public health measure. Their devoutly Catholic maternal grandmother asked a visiting Roman Catholic priest to baptize the children. Pickford was at this time baptized as Gladys Marie Smith. After being widowed in 1899, Charlotte Smith began taking in boarders, one of whom was a Mr. Murphy, the theatrical stage manager for Cummings Stock Company, who soon suggested that Gladys age seven, Lotti age six, be given two small theatrical roles — Gladys portrayed a girl and a boy, while Lottie was cast in a silent part in the company's production of The Silver King at Toronto's Princess Theatre, while their mother played the organ.
Pickford subsequently acted in many melodramas with Toronto's Valentine Stock Company playing the major child role in its version of The Silver King. She capped her short career in Toronto with the starring role of Little Eva the Valentine production of Uncle Tom's Cabin, adapted from the 1852 novel. By the early 1900s, theatre had become a family enterprise. Gladys, her mother and two younger siblings toured the United States by rail, performing in third-rate companies and plays. After six impoverished years, Pickford allowed one more summer to land a leading role on Broadway, planning to quit acting if she failed. In 1906 Gladys and Jack Smith supported singer Chauncey Olcott on Broadway in Edmund Burke. Gladys landed a supporting role in a 1907 Broadway play, The Warrens of Virginia; the play was written by William C. deMille, whose brother, appeared in the cast. David Belasco, the producer of the play, insisted that Gladys Smith assume the stage name Mary Pickford. After completing the Broadway run and touring the play, Pickford was again out of work.
On April 19, 1909, the Biograph Company director D. W. Griffith screen-tested her at the company's New York studio for a role in the nickelodeon film Pippa Passes; the role went to someone else but Griffith was taken with Pickford. She grasped that movie acting was simpler than the stylized stage acting of the day. Most Biograph actors earned $5 a day but, after Pickford's single day in the studio, Griffith agreed to pay her $10 a day against a guarantee of $40 a week. Pickford, like all actors at Biograph, played both bit parts and leading roles, including mothers, charwomen, slaves, Native Americans, spurned women, a prostitute; as Pickford said of her success at Biograph:I played scrubwomen and secretaries and women of all nationalities... I decided that if I could get into as many pictures as possible, I'd become known, there would be a demand for my work, she appeared in 51 films in 1909 – one a week. While at Biograph, she suggested to Florence La Badie to "try pictures", invited her to the studio and introduced her to D. W. Griffith, who launched La Badie's career.
In January 1910, Pickford traveled with a Biograph crew to Los Angeles. Many other film companies wintered on the West Coast, escaping the weak light and short days that hampered winter shooting in the East. Pickford added to her 1909 Biographs with films made in California. Actors were not listed in the credits in Griffith's company. Audiences identified Pickford within weeks of her first film appearance. Exhibitors, in turn, capitalized on her popularity by advertising on sandwich boards that a film featuring "The Girl with the Golden Curls", "Blondilocks", or "The Biograph Girl" was inside. Pickford left Biograph in December 1910; the following year, she starred in films at Carl Laemmle's Independent Moving
Sarah Blanche Sweet was an American silent film actress who began her career in the earliest days of the Hollywood motion picture film industry. Born Sarah Blanche Sweet in Chicago, Illinois in 1896, she was the daughter of Pearl, a dancer, Gilbert Sweet, a wine merchant, her mother died when Blanche was an infant, she was raised by her maternal grandmother Cora Alexander - and known as Blanche Alexander. Cora Alexander found her many parts as a young child. At age four she toured in a play called The Battle of the Strong with Marie Burroughs and Maurice Barrymore. A decade Sweet acted with Barrymore's son Lionel in a D. W. Griffith directed film. In 1909, she started work at Biograph Studios under contract to director D. W. Griffith. By 1910 she had become a rival to Mary Pickford, who had started for Griffith the year before. Sweet was known for her energetic, independent roles, at variance with the'ideal' Griffith type of vulnerable fragile, femininity. After many starring roles, her first real landmark film was the 1911 Griffith thriller The Lonedale Operator.
In 1913 she starred in Judith of Bethulia. In 1914 Sweet was cast by Griffith in the part of Elsie Stoneman in his epic The Birth of a Nation but the role was given to rival actress Lillian Gish, Sweet's senior by three years; that same year Sweet parted ways with Griffith and joined Paramount for the much higher pay that studio was able to afford. Because the Biograph company refused to reveal the names of its actors, the British distributor M. P. Sales billed Sweet as Daphne Wayne. Throughout the 1910s, Sweet continued her career appearing in a number of prominent roles in films and remained a publicly popular leading lady, she starred in vehicles by Cecil B. DeMille and Marshall Neilan, she was recognised by leading film critics of the time to be one of the foremost actresses of the entire silent era, it was during her time working with Neilan that the two began a publicized affair, which brought on his divorce from former actress Gertrude Bambrick. Sweet and Neilan married in 1922; the union ended in 1929 with Sweet charging.
During the early 1920s Sweet's career continued to prosper, she starred in the first film version of Anna Christie in 1923. The film is notable as being the first Eugene O'Neill play to be made into a motion picture. In successive years, she starred in Tess of the d'Urbervilles and The Sporting Venus, both directed by Neilan. Sweet soon began a new career phase. Sweet's career faltered with the advent of talkies. Sweet made just three talking pictures, including her critically lauded performance in 1930's Show Girl in Hollywood, before retiring from the screen that same year and marrying stage actor Raymond Hackett in 1935; the marriage lasted until Hackett's death in 1958. Sweet spent the remainder of her performing career in secondary Broadway stage roles, her career in both of these fields petered out, she began working in a Los Angeles department store. In the late 1960s, her acting legacy was resurrected when film scholars invited her to Europe to receive recognition for her work. In 1980 Sweet was one of the many featured surviving silent film stars interviewed at length in Kevin Brownlow's documentary about the silent film era Hollywood.
Sweet is the subject of a 1982 documentary by Anthony Slide, titled "Portrait of Blanche Sweet," in which she talks of her life and her career. On September 24, 1984, a tribute to Blanche Sweet was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Miss Sweet introduced The Sporting Venus. Sweet died of a stroke in New York City on September 1986, just weeks after her 90th birthday, her ashes were scattered within the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Blanche Sweet at the Internet Broadway Database Blanche Sweet on IMDb Blanche Sweet at AllMovie Blanche Sweet at the TCM Movie Database Blanche Sweet at Golden Silents Some contemporary interviews with Blanche Sweet Blanche Sweet at Find a Grave Blanche Sweet at New York Public Library, B. Rose Collection Photographs and literature on Blanche Sweet