Who is Your Favorite Silent Film Actress?

Let’s have a little celebration! Which silent actress is just the bee’s knees, in your opinion?

Obviously, you know that I adore Pola Negri’s performances from the bottom of my heart. I love her versatility, her underrated flair for comedy, her wide range and her ability to blend into an ensemble.

You can read about my five favorite silent actresses here but now it’s your turn. Which wonderful actress has won your heart and loyalty as a fan? Please share!

Obviously, there are no wrong answers and I look forward to hearing you praise your favorites, be they famous or forgotten.

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26 Replies to “Who is Your Favorite Silent Film Actress?”

  1. Alla Nazimova. I find her to be very intriguing. I’ve only seen three of her films (it appears what’s left that survives are being held in foreign archives) but I really enjoyed them especially The Red Lantern. I like Theda Bara’s films as well but of what survives, I’d have to lean towards Nazimova.

  2. I can’t pick one favorite, out of my top loves Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, Greta Garbo, Corinne Griffith, and Lillian Gish.

  3. My favorite for a very long time, after seeing her for the first time at Cinevent in the film “Woman of the World,” was Pola Negri. But, I have to say my loyalty is now split between her and Colleen Moore.

  4. My favorite actresses in drama: Janet Gaynor, Lillian Gish and Louise Brooks. Honorable mention: Brigitte Helm.

    In comedies: Marion Davies, Collleen Moore and Clara Bow. Honorable mention: Ossi Oswalda.

  5. Kinuyo Tanaka, in Yasujiro Ozu’s early-thirties silents “I Flunked, But . . . ,” “Where Now are the Dreams of Youth?” and (especially) “Dragnet Girl.” She would work in films for another 45 years. A great lady of the Japanese cinema.

    1. A lovely choice. Japanese film was rich with Kinuyo’s performances and those of Setsuko Hara.

  6. Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Norma Talmadge, Anna Mae Wong. I have only seen one Nazimova film, so she gets an honorable mention, but she is number one for me in terms of an interesting personal life…I am so intrigued by the “Garden of Allah”. Coincidentally, my cousin lives at The Colonial, the historic apartment building that abuts the former Garden of Allah property.

    I also have not seen any Lupe Velez films, and I really need to get on that. She seems right up my alley.

  7. Lillian Gish, for sheer quantity of great flicks, even leaving out the Griffith films I admire Рnot all: The Wind, The Scarlet Letter, La Boh̬me, Annie Laurie. I love Mary Duncan for two movies: City Girl, The River. There are plenty of wonderful, better-known others, but I want to put in a plug for Mary.

  8. I’ve only ventured little into live action silents, but Asta Nielsen really impresses me in the sheer versatility of her acting.

  9. Pickford, Gish, Garbo, Bow, Normand. And while some regard her as Chaplin’s puppet, I’m always glad to see Edna Purviance.

  10. Of actresses who are less known today, Viola Dana is great, and so is Mae Marsh. (See “Hoodoo Ann’ sometime.

  11. When it comes to talent and screen presence, my choices would be Colleen Moore, Clara Bow and Joan Crawford from the late silent period, and Clara Kimball Young from the nickelodeon/early feature era.

    I do want to put in a word for Jobyna Ralston. She wasn’t any great shakes as an actress, but I’ve had a crush on her since I first saw her in Girl Shy when I was 14.

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