Who were the top movie stars of 1913?

We can name the top stars of 10, 20, 50, 70 years ago. But what about 100?

Let’s take a look and see who the top movie stars were in 1913, as listed in the Motion Picture Story Magazine Popular Player Contest. How many of these players have you seen in a film? And how many had careers that would survive into the next decade?

The contest was conducted by hand-counted paper ballots. It’s not scientific but probably more accurate than modern internet polls. After all, ballot stuffing would have required a considerable amount of time and postage.

Oddly, there are seven slots for the men but only four for the women. Perhaps the magazine let the layout of their photo spread determine how they would list the winners.

Each actor has their name listed, followed by their studio and then the number of votes that they received. Each voter could cast two votes: one for an actor and the other for an actress.

Remember when looking at the numbers that the US was smaller in 1913, with a population of less than 100 million. Pretty impressive participation, considering.


The Gentlemen:

First Prize — Romaine Fielding (Lubin) 1,311,018

Second Prize — Earle Williams (Vitagraph) 739,895

Third Prize — J. Warren Kerrigan (American) 531,966

Fourth Prize— Carlyle Blackwell {Kalem) ., 296,684

Fifth Prize — Francis X. Bushman (Essanay) 252,750

Sixth Prize — G. M. Anderson (Essanay) 217,069

Seventh Prize — Arthur Johnson (Lubin) 209,800

The Ladies:

First Prize for Ladies — Alice Joyce (Kalem) 462,380

Second Prize for Ladies — Muriel Ostriche (Thanhouser) 212,276

Third Prize for Ladies — Mary Fuller (Edison) 191,759

Fourth Prize for Ladies — Edith Storey (Vitagraph) 188,161


The winners would receive “a handsome, engraved certificate as a memento of the greatest photoplayer contest ever held.”

Further, top winners Romain Fielding and Alice Joyce would both receive a “handsome wardrobe-trunk that is valued at $150, and the contents are priceless, because they include immense bundles of verses and prose appreciations, together with the most exquisitely bound set of Motion Picture books, pictures, essays and treatises in existence.”

So, in other words, they got luggage, fan poems and bound magazine volumes. Er, thanks?

Well that was fun. I was amazed at how low many now-famous silent stars are placed and astonished at how few of the top names are well-known today. This deserves further investigation… Of course, I realize that this is just one poll from one magazine but I think it provides a good cross-section of the top actors and actresses in the period of movie history.

Here is the complete list of winners:


By the way, you can see contest winner Romaine Fielding in Across the Mexican Line.


You can look up lots of swell clippings like these at the Media History Digital Library.


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