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Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses [Hardcover]

Anthony Slide
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 27 2002
From his unique perspective of having known many of the actors and actresses about whom he writes, silent film historian Anthony Slide creates vivid portraits of the careers and often eccentric lives of 100 players from the American silent film industry. He profiles the era’s shining stars such as Lillian Gish and Blanche Sweet; leading men including William Bakewell and Robert Harron; gifted leading ladies such as Laura La Plante and Alice Terry; ingénues like Mary Astor and Mary Brian; and even Hollywood’s most famous extra, Bess Flowers.

Although each original essay is accompanied by significant documentation and an extensive bibliography, Silent Players is not simply a reference book or encyclopedic recitation of facts culled from the pages of fan magazines and trade periodicals. It contains a series of insightful portraits of the characters who symbolize an original and pioneering era in motion history and explores their unique talents and extraordinary private lives.

Slide offers a potentially revisionist view of many of the stars he profiles, repudiating the status of some and restoring to fame others who have slipped from view. He personally interviewed many of his subjects and knew several of them intimately, putting him in a distinctive position to tell their true stories.

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From Library Journal

Although these two books appear to be similar, they are actually very different in both intention and execution. Slide, founder of the journal Silent Picture and the distinguished author of more than 30 books related to the performing arts, presents a frank and fond collection of interviews and memories of 100 silent film stars, some of whom he knew personally. The criteria for inclusion are highly subjective; those who made the cut (e.g., Lillian Gish, William Bakewell, and Mary Astor) represent the author's "personal choice of some of the best, brightest or most unusual of silent players." The result is a fascinating, entertaining, and occasionally poignant work that invites the reader into the fabulous world of art, industry, and experimentation that was Hollywood in the 1910s and 1920s. The nature of the selection process means that this volume is more useful as a complementary resource, or even as a work to be read for its own sake, than as a stand-alone reference. A formidable work complete with biographies, filmographies, and photos, Katchmer's Dictionary profiles more than 1000 actors and actresses who appeared in silent Westerns. Katchmer, a noted columnist for Classic Images magazine, allows his voice and opinions to come through in each entry, making this a lively and informative read. Katchmer died in 1997 just after completing the research and writing for this work, which his son, John, assembled in final form. As with Silent Players, Katchmer's Dictionary describes lives and careers full of incident and accident. Both books are highly recommended for public or academic libraries where there is a strong interest in silent film or early film history.
Andrea Slonosky, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“One writer who possesses the special insight necessary to any intelligent discussion of the silent movie is Slide.” -- Films in Review

“Our preeminent historian of the silent film.” -- Lillian Gish

“Slide sets a standard for film research that other writers can study and emulate.” -- Daily Variety

“The grand master of silent film scholarship.” -- Choice

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First Sentence
She was a sad little creature, one might almost say pathetic, as unwordly as many of the ingenues she had played at the Thanhouser Company in the early teens. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Silent Players: An arrogant, Tasteless Polemic Jan. 6 2003
By A Customer
Anthony Slide seems to be working out some deep-seated psychiatric dysfunction whenever he writes about silent stars. His recent work, Silent Players, shows an enormous amount of disrespect towards his subjects---most of whom are long dead and cannot provide a rejoinder. While Mr. Slide apparently has a good grasp of most of the subject matter, his favoritism is painfully obvious---those stars whom he liked personally received favorable treatment, while those he did not like (usually those who refused to submit to his interviews) were lambasted and ridiculed, i.e., calling Mary Philbin "braindead." What gives Mr. Slide, whom, as far as we know, can't act his way out of paper bag, the right to judge these people personally, not just artistically? Too often his work reads like the personal likes and dislikes of a frustrated little boy who doen't always get his way. What a shame. Mr. Slide should exhibit more class toward those who are dead, especially since they possessed far more talent than he.
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By J. Rose
Ok, so maybe the idea of actor Ralph Graves and comedy director Mack Sennett in bed together in the 1920s seems a bit far-fetched, but who is to say whether or not it actually happened? For instance, the possibility of Sennett being gay was probed in the book "Keystone: The Life and Clowns of Mack Sennett" by Simon Louvish. The preceding is just one aspect of Mr. Slide's masterpiece that is sure to grab a reader's attention. There are many more, such as actress Viola Dana's supposed sexual appetite which spans more than that of a football team's alone! The book is an excellent read; one that I couldn't put down for a second. It delves into the lives of many silent players, from the well-known to the obscure, and more than a few in between. Slide gives the birth and death dates if he knows them, and details a lot about the later years of the stars' lives. He offers biographies of actors that span a page or more, offering anecdotes provided from the stars themselves, and spending a great deal of time on some of his favorites, his friends like Mary Brian, Priscilla Bonner,Jetta Goudal, and most important of all, Blanche Sweet, with whom he acted as a public companion to for years. Some of the superstars that he chronicles are Mary Astor, Theda Bara, Lon Chaney, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, Lillian Gish, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Mabel Normand, Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Norma Talmadge, and Rudolph Valentino. Mr. Slide also takes us into the lives of such obscure players as, Mignon Anderson, Constance Binney, Gladys Brockwell, Pauline Curley, Bess Flowers, Howard Gaye, Alice Howell, Babe London, James Morrison, Gertrude Olmstead, Arline Pretty, Clarine Seymour, and Pauline Starke. Read more ›
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Anthony Slide is an English film critic who specializes in early Hollyood. In this book he has 100 chapters devoted to the lives and careers of 100 silent movie actors. At the end of each chapter there is a useful bibliography of articles and books on each person who is profiled., A picture is included at the begining of each chapter portraying the person as they looked in the silent era.
Many of the persons mentioned are famous such as Doug Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Fay Wray. The vast majority of those discussed are of actors I am not acquainted with nor will most readers know who they are.
All of the persons are interesting with stories to tell about the early days of D.W, Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille and Fred Niblo and other directors who made the movies, the stars and the way in which movies were produce in a bygone era.
Slide knew several of the actors on a personal basis and includes humorous and sad stories of his dealings with them.
This work could be used as an a handy reference tool for students of silent film and can also be read cover to cover for profitable pleasure.
This work along with the fine work of Kevin Brownlow allows t he new student to pre-sound film a good basic grounding in who the people were who were on the screens of America long ago.
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This book by noted silent movie expert Anthony Slide features a photo and approximately three pages of biographical text (although some have as little as one page of text) on the following actors and actresses: Mignon Anderson, Mary Astor, William Bakewell, Lina Basquette, Madge Bellamy, Constance Binney, Priscilla Bonner, Hobart Bosworth, Evelyn Brent, Mary Brian, Gladys Brockwell, Kate Bruce, John Bunny, Ruth Clifford, Elmer Clifton, Miriam Cooper, Pauline Curley, Viola Dana, Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon, Philippe De Lacy, Carol Dempster, Dorothy Devore, Richard Dix, Billie Dove, Claire DuBrey, Virginia Brown Faire, Bess Flowers, Howard Gaye, Lillian Gish, Dagmar Godowsky, Jetta Goudal, Ethel Grandin, Ralph Graves, Gilda Gray, Corinne Griffith, Robert Harron, William S. Hart, Alice Howell, Alice Joyce, Madge Kennedy, Doris Kenyon, J. Warren Kerrigan, Laura La Plante - The Legends: Lon Chaney, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino; - Harold Lloyd, Babe London, Bessie Love, Dorothy Mackaill, Mary MacLaren, Percy Marmont, Mae Marsh, James Morrison, Jack Mulhall, Mae Murray, Conrad Nagel, Nita Naldi, Mabel Normand, Jane Novak, George O'Brien, Gertrude Olmstead, Seena Owen, Jean Paige, Kathryn Perry, Olga Petrova, Mary Philbin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Arline Pretty, Esther Ralston, Charles Ray, Wallace Reid, Billie Rhodes, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Clarine Seymour, Lowell Sherman, Pauline Starke, Gloria Swanson, Blanche Sweet, Constance Talmadge, Norma Talmadge, Alice Terry, Florence Turner, - The Vamps: Theda Bara, Louise Glaum, Kitty Gordon, Olga Grey, Alice Hollister, Valeska Suratt; - George Walsh, Henry B. Walthall, Kathlyn Williams, Lois Wilson, Margery Wilson, Claire Windsor, and Fay Wray. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A rebuttal
I have gotten quite a bit of flack for my glowing review of Anthony Slide's "Silent Players." Yes, I am a longtime personal friend of the author and, yes, I am mentioned in the... Read more
Published on April 25 2003 by Hans J. Wollstein
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and infuriating
The book is both fascinating and infuriating. I have a few other of Mr. Slide's books, and they are full of useful information, just like this one. Read more
Published on March 24 2003 by Bruce Calvert
We have always been the first to say that silents is golden. And now there's proof. Anthony Slide's "Silent Players" is an biographical and autobiographical study of 100 silent... Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2003 by Alan W. Petrucelli
5.0 out of 5 stars A Page Turner
I wouldn't have thought a book of short biographies on silent actors could be so interesting. I hadn't heard of most of these people yet I found myself drawn to their stories of... Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2003 by Stephen Swain
1.0 out of 5 stars Obnoxious Book by an Obnoxious Writer
Anthony Slide is somewhat infamous among movie buffs for his truly unctuous writing style, arrogantly putting forth his own opinions as fact and lambasting any opinions to the... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Portraits
I got the book for Christmas and am about to start through it a second time. Next to Brownlow's "The Parade Passed By" this is the most fun you can have reading about silent... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2003 by Stephen Swain
3.0 out of 5 stars A Big Disappointment.
As a longtime fan of silent movies, I am always on the lookout for books and articles on the subject. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2002 by Chip Kaufmann
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph!
It is very simple: Anthony Slide's Silent Players will join Kevin Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By as the most quotable work on the silent screen. Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2002 by Hans J. Wollstein
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