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Anita Page
Anita Page - OUR MODERN MAIDENS.jpg
Page in Our Modern Maidens (1929)
Born
Anita Evelyn Pomares

(1910-08-04)August 4, 1910
Flushing, Queens, New York City, U.S.
Died September 6, 2008(2008-09-06) (aged 98)
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, San Diego, California
Occupation Actress
Years active 1925–1936; 1961; 1996–2008
Spouse(s)
  • Nacio Herb Brown
    (m. 1934; div. 1935)
  • Herschel A. House
    (m. 1937; died 1991)
Children 2

Anita Page (born Anita Evelyn Pomares; August 4, 1910 – September 6, 2008) was an American film actress who reached stardom in the final years of the silent film era.

She was referred to as "a blond, blue-eyed Latin" and "the girl with the most beautiful face in Hollywood" in the 1920s. She retired from acting in 1936. Page returned to acting sixty years later in 1996, and appeared in four films in the 2000s.

Early life

Anita Evelyn Pomares was born on August 4, 1910 in Flushing, Queens, New York. Her parents were Marino Leo, Sr, who was originally from Brooklyn, and Maude Evelyn (née Mullane) Pomares. She had one brother, Marino Jr, who later worked for her as a gym instructor while her mother worked as her secretary and her father as her chauffeur. Page's paternal grandfather Marino was from Spain, and had worked as a consul in El Salvador. Her grandmother Anna Muñoz was of Castilian Spanish and French descent.

Career

Silent films and early talkies

Anita Page Stars of the Photoplay
Publicity photo of Anita Page from Stars of the Photoplay

Page entered films with the help of friend, actress Betty Bronson. A photo of Page was spotted by a man who handled Bronson's fan mail who was also interested in representing actors. With the encouragement of her mother, Page telephoned the man who arranged a meeting for her with a casting director at Paramount Studios. After doing a screen test for Paramount, she became among the first residents of the Chateau Marmont. Page was offered contracts by both studios and selected MGM, "because they were so good for female actresses. If you ask me, MGM was the studio."

Page's first film for MGM was the 1928 comedy-drama Telling the World, opposite William Haines. Her performance in her second MGM film, Our Dancing Daughters (1928) opposite Joan Crawford was a success and it inspired two similar films in which they also co-starred, Our Modern Maidens and Our Blushing Brides. "I used to say that we're going to be 'The Galloping Grandmothers' at the rate we're going with these pictures," she reminisced in 1993.

The Broadway Melody (1929) opposite Bessie Love is considered among her most successful films, and it won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Page transitioned to talking pictures, but she criticised the total loss of silent films. "In my opinion, silents were much better than talkies. One thing you had was mood music, which you could have playing throughout your scene to inspire you. My favorite song was 'My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice' from Samson and Delilah. I never seemed to tire of it. The trouble with talkies was, they let you have the music, but they'd stop it when you had to talk and it was always a let down for me."

When not working on films, she was busy with studio photographer George Hurrell creating publicity shots. She was one of his first subjects, and her photograph was his first to be published. MGM played up her heritage in these press releases such as this 1932 blurb: "She is that rarest and most interesting type of beauty,” ... “A Spanish blonde", and dubbed her "a blonde, blue-eyed Latin".

She was the leading lady to Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable and others. During the early 1930s, she was one of Hollywood's busiest actresses. She was involved romantically with Gable briefly during that time. At the height of her popularity, she was receiving more fan mail than any other female star, with the exception of Greta Garbo, and received several marriage proposals from Benito Mussolini in the mail.

Retirement

When her contract expired in 1933, she announced her retirement from acting at the age of 23. She retired as she was denied a pay rise. She made one more movie, Hitch Hike to Heaven, in 1936, and then retired fully from acting. Later, Page claimed that Irving Thalberg had offered her the starring role in three movies if she would sleep with him, which she refused.

She married composer Nacio Herb Brown in 1934. The marriage was annulled a year later because Brown's previous divorce had not been finalized at the time they were married. She married Navy pilot Lieutenant Hershel A. House on January 9, 1937, in Yuma, Arizona. They moved to Coronado, California, and lived there until his death in 1991. They had two daughters, Linda and Sandra.

Page was a Democrat who supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election. Page was a Roman Catholic.

Return to acting

Page returned to acting in 1996 after sixty years retirement and appeared in several low budget horror films. Film veteran Margaret O'Brien appeared in two of them.

Later years and death

Page was the last living attendee of the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, and frequently gave interviews as the "last star of the silents", appearing in documentaries about the era.

Page died in her sleep at the age of 98 on September 6, 2008, at her Los Angeles home, where she had lived with long time companion Randal Malone. She is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego.

Legacy

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Anita Page has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6116 Hollywood Boulevard.

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1925 A Kiss for Cinderella Uncredited
1926 Love 'Em and Leave 'Em Uncredited
1927 Beach Nuts Short
1928 Telling the World Chrystal Malone
Our Dancing Daughters Ann 'Annikins'
While the City Sleeps Myrtle Portions of 2 reels are missing
West of Zanzibar Bit role Uncredited
1929 The Flying Fleet Anita Hastings
The Broadway Melody Queenie Mahoney Alternative title: The Broadway Melody of 1929
The Hollywood Revue of 1929 Herself
Our Modern Maidens Kentucky Strafford
Speedway Patricia
Navy Blues Alice "Allie" Brown
1930 Free and Easy Elvira Plunkett Alternative title: Easy Go
Caught Short Genevieve Jones
Our Blushing Brides Connie Blair
The Little Accident Isabel
War Nurse Joy Meadows
Great Day Incomplete
Estrellados Herself Uncredited
1931 The Voice of Hollywood No. 7 (Second Series) Herself Short
Wir schalten um auf Hollywood Herself Uncredited
Reducing Vivian Truffle
The Easiest Way Peg Murdock Feliki
Gentleman's Fate Ruth Corrigan
Sidewalks of New York Margie Kelly
Under Eighteen Sophie
1932 Are You Listening? Sally O'Neil
Night Court Mary Thomas Alternative title: Justice for Sale
Skyscraper Souls Jenny LeGrande
Prosperity Helen Praskins Warren
1933 Jungle Bride Doris Evans
Soldiers of the Storm Natalie
The Big Cage Lilian Langley
I Have Lived Jean St. Clair Alternative titles: After Midnight
Love Life
1936 Hitch Hike to Heaven Claudia Revelle Alternative title: Footlights and Shadows
1961 The Runaway Nun
1996 Sunset After Dark Anita Bronson
1998 Creaturealm: From the Dead Herself (segment "Hollywood Mortuary")
2000 Witchcraft XI: Sisters in Blood Sister Seraphina Direct-to-DVD release
2002 The Crawling Brain Grandma Anita Kroger Direct-to-DVD release
2004 Bob's Night Out Socialite
2010 Frankenstein Rising Elizabeth Frankenstein Released posthumously
2016 Doctor Stein Elizabeth Stein Released posthumously
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