Silent Movie Time Capsule : Separated at Birth, 1925-style!

Separated at Birth features are an ever-popular pop culture trope. “Why, these two celebrities DO look alike, when you squint and turn your head sideways.” Well, it seems Photoplay Magazine felt that it was its duty to point out certain celebrity resemblances in 1925 and here is the result. I think the pairings range from “oh yeah” to “um, no” to “that’s cheating!”



My breakdown:

The Oh Yeahs

Adolphe Menjou and Richard Tucker, though the ‘staches help matters. Still, the hooded eyes and thin lip-lines certainly do match.

The Um, Nos

Clara Beranger and Geraldine Farrar. Nope. A similar eye shape but that is the end of it. I would have no trouble telling them apart.

Monte Blue and Rod La Rocque. Not at all, other than they are both men with brown hair.

May McAvoy and Jacqueline Logan. Similar lip-line and hairstyle. Otherwise, this one is an utter washout.

The That’s Cheatings!

Aileen Pringle and Elinor Glyn. Miss Pringle was cast because she looked like Miss Glyn. That does not count. It’s like remarking that the winner of a Chaplin lookalike contest looks remarkably like Chaplin. In other news, the sky is blue and the sun came up in the east.

(On a side note, where can I find someone to help me visualize my brain creations?)

Joseph Schildkraut and Priscilla Dean. It doesn’t count if you purposely dress one of the lookalikes like the other. This is certainly the meanest pairing.

It is clear from reading their archives that Photoplay had it in for Mr. Schildkraut. Mayhaps, like his former co-star Lillian Gish, he refused to pose for their commemorative spoons. Really. This happened to Lillian. The nastiness toward Mr. Schildkraut really cranked up when he became involved in a power struggle on the set with Norma Talmadge. Photoplay took Norma’s side.

Also, we mustn’t rule out some amount of xenophobia as the source of this nastiness. Other victims of racial, cultural and ethnic insensitivity at the hands of Photoplay included Anna May Wong, Sessue Hayakawa and Pola Negri. Schildkraut was born in Austria to Jewish parents and was proud of his heritage. He made no attempt to hide his background and endured more than his share of harassment.

Dorothy Gish, who had been known to make crude antisemitic statements (source: The extremely reliable Scott Eyman’s book, Mary Pickford: America’s Sweetheart, page 63 in the hardcover edition) seems to have been the first to sarcastically proclaim Schildkraut beautiful.  Schildkraut was also the victim of racial slurs and death threats on the set of Orphans of the Storm. Oh, the Griffith stable was a charming place to work! I can see why Mr. Schildkraut jumped ship and joined DeMille’s crew.

What happened to our dear Pepi? Why, he cried all the way to the Oscars.

Hello, Pepi!
Hello, Pepi!


4 Replies to “Silent Movie Time Capsule : Separated at Birth, 1925-style!”

  1. I often think that some of today’s stars resemble or remind me of stars from the past. George Clooney evokes Cary Grant, to some extent. The same for Matthew McConnaughey-he reminds me a bit of Paul Newman.

    1. Yes, there are always certain “types” who are popular with audiences and every generation has their flavor.

  2. The nastiness concerning Mr. Schildkraut is infuriating. And people talk about Valentino being bullied by the press!

    1. I know! Rudy has plenty of defenders these days but no one is looking out for poor Pepi. Well, except us. 😉

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