Silent Movie Bookshelf: Dark Lady of the Silents by Miriam Cooper

I was ferreting through the stacks of a particularly good used bookstore when I found Miriam Cooper’s autobiography, Dark Lady of the Silents. Hurrah!

This is definitely one of those “grain of salt” books. Miss Cooper is a unabashedly out to settle scores but, hey, at least she’s honest.

Tone: Gossipy

Pictures: Nice selection of personal snapshots and publicity stills

Favorite Tidbit: Cooper had only seen one movie before she made her film debut as an extra in a D.W. Griffith Biograph short. And she had to sneak off with the janitor’s daughter to see that one. Nice Baltimore girls did not go to the movies. Gracious! She remembered being more interested in the ditsy piano player than the film.

Focus: Miriam Cooper shares memories from her Biograph days with D.W. Griffith, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Mae Marsh and Bobby Harron. She also talks about her marriage with Raoul Walsh and her friendship with film luminaries like Pola Negri and Carole Lombard.

Controversial Opinion: She wrote that she thought Fatty Arbuckle was guilty and that the rumors about Virginia Rappe were generated to save the comedian from a murder conviction.

Availability: The book is out of print but is available used.