Tag Archives: Olive Borden

A Few New Coming Attraction Slides

As many of you know, we collect coming attraction slides. Here’s three new ones, two Olive Borden’s and one Lupe Velez with Douglas Fairbanks, in The Gaucho.

If anyone reading this post has coming attraction slides for sale, please contact me – mvozus@gmail.com.


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A Review From the “Looking For Mabel” Website


The Life and Film of Hollywood’s

“Joy Girl


Michelle Vogel

A  joyful Beginning – A joyless End

Book Review by Marilyn Slater

April 23, 2010

Olive Borden has not slipped totally from public consciousness as this book demonstrates. Olive Borden has not been forgotten.

Olive Borden’s  is covered in Michelle Vogel’s book A fascinating chapter of Olive career is told through studio publicity so it reflects the images that she was playing in the movies, a story about what a peppy and wholesome, happy girls she is and the next story about the sophisticated, “vampish” clotheshorse.  And of course, as one reads story after story, the understanding that the publicity department at the studio controlled how the general public saw Olive, extravagant, temperamental and volatile.  She seems not to have a realization of the importance of controlling her own image.   The book has over 130 pictures in it!

The filmography lists around 76 movies with Olive Borden, both silent and early sound, so I hope IMDb gets their hands on the book as they only list 46 movies. By putting the films of Olive Borden in historic context Michelle Vogel creates a very effective manner of explaining Olive’s place within that world.  If you are looking for a lot of pictures and an expanded filmography this book should be on your bookshelf.

Olive Borden can be ordered though the McFarland website: www.mcfarlandpub.com or 800.253.2187.

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Olive Borden Review from “The Silent Movie Blog”

How High the Moon

May 10, 2010 at 12:33 am (General blather)

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This story would make a riveting novel: a girl from humble beginnings moves to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, makes the dreams come true and then sees them collapse into loss, poverty, suffering and death. That novel could explore themes like the diverging paths of success and happiness, the phenomenon of celebrity, the doppelganger of public and private personas.

Never mind the fiction. You could do just as well by telling the true stories of silent stars like Marie Prevost or Charles Ray.

Or– for maximum impact– you could tell the story of Olive Borden.

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In the past, Olive Borden was just a biographical stick-figure, a fractured account told by fan magazine articles from the peak of her fame, and by frighteningly sad newspaper articles from twenty years later. Now we have Michelle Vogel’s new book, Olive Borden: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s “Joy Girl.”

Borden first appeared in films (and usually only barely) as teenage eye candy in early-1920s silent comedies for Al Christie, Jack White and Hal Roach. From that lowest rung of the acting ladder, she rose to ingenue roles at Fox, as Tom Mix’s leading lady in a pair of his popular westerns.

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On the right: Olive with Tom Mix in The Yankee Senor (1926).

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Then, things got really interesting: playing the female leads in films by most of Fox’s best directors, John Ford (3 Bad Men, 1926), Howard Hawks (Fig Leaves, 1926) and Raoul Walsh (The Monkey Talks, 1927)… love with the studio’s leading man, George O’Brien… and starring roles in pictures tailored just for her. All of this happened within a couple of years.

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Detail from a lobby card for The Country Beyond (1926).

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And then it all went to hell, just as swiftly and very painfully. The talkie revolution arrived early at Fox, and Movietone’s thunder shook nearly all of the studio’s silent talent. (Unfortunately for Olive, the only one of them to emerge unscathed would be her chief rival, Janet Gaynor.)

For Hollywood’s highly-paid stars, this was the worst possible time for a contract to expire. Reliable fixtures of the silent screen were suddenly uncertain propositions in the new world of the talkies. Confident that cheaper talent could be found on Broadway, the studios let a number of stars walk indignantly out the door. One of them was Olive Borden.

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An art deco Olive, in The Social Lion (1930). Photo by Eugene Robert Richee.

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At first, things didn’t seem so bad for her, but they deteriorated quickly. Leading roles at Columbia led to secondary roles at FBO, then to jobs at the independents, then to… nothing much.

Her personal life was no better. The big paychecks were gone, but she couldn’t stop spending money, until her finances hit a wall. It was over with George O’Brien, and she dove into a marriage with a man who turned out to be married already. Things got worse from there, a lot worse. The book has the details, or most of them anyway, probably everything that can be known about them. It’s a grim finish.

Setting aside the Hollywood backdrop, this is a study of one human being who lost her way: a life that had been lived in radiant Rolf Armstrong pastels of success and happiness fell into decline and decay, finishing up in a dark skid row landscape straight out of a Charles Bukowski story.

Underlining the sadness is that we’ll never get to see very much of what brought Olive to the gates of stardom in the first place. 3 Bad Men is the only film from her peak that’s very accessible today (it’s part of the Ford at Foxboxed set). Fig Leaves is out there (and it’s wonderful, a frisky romantic comedy co-starring O’Brien), but you’re not likely to get to see it. (I borrowed a 16mm print of it once, but there’s been no official video release.)

For many years I wanted to see The Monkey Talks without ever expecting that to happen, but then Cinecon screened it about a decade ago. It topped my expectations: a bizarre fable of passionate obsession among circus people, in which a beautiful tight-rope walker is the fixation of a human monkey. Jacques Lerner is amazing in the title role, and an incredibly stunning Olive is nearly as compelling as “Olivette,” the object of his desire.

The film beats Tod Browning at his own game, but it’s seldom screened anywhere, and its chances of a DVD release are just about zero. Two or three reels of the only surviving print suffer from a manifestation of chemical decomposition, one oddly appropriate for such a strange film: throughout those reels, it looks like you’re watching undeveloped negative. The blacks have turned to white and the whites have turned to black. Fortunately, the last two-thirds of the film are fine, and they pack a punch.

The Monkey Talks (1927).

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But most of Olive’s other key silents are lost. Even her talkies are hard to find, and a number of them are lost as well.

I recommend this book. The author has plumbed depths of research that no one else has ever attempted, and I doubt that anyone will ever do better. There’s a photo on nearly every page, and a thorough filmography. The author’s tone strikes a good balance: a clinically dispassionate regard for her subject would be too much to ask, especially when the subject arouses as much sympathy as this one does. But the book is no puff piece, either. Much of Olive’s downfall can be blamed on no one but herself, and this author never ducks behind the altar of film star idolatry, as so many others do. The book isn’t perfectly flawless (Olive’s early comedy short Riders of the Kitchen Range isn’t lost, as reported, and I would argue that Janet Gaynor, with The Blue Eagle and 7th Heaven behind her, was hardly a “rank newcomer” when she beat out Olive for the lead in Sunrise).

But I could find something to quibble about with any book on silent film history (and believe me, I do). This one’s a winner. It serves its subject (and the reader) well, expertly excavating an unforgettable true story from the ruins of old Hollywood.

– – – Christopher Snowden

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Glamour, thy name is Olive.

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Author, Paul Green, kindly interviewed me recently. Below is the interview in full. A link to one of Paul Green’s blogs follows the interview.

“Olive Borden: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s ‘Joy Girl’”

Fellow author Michelle Vogel kindly agreed to be interviewed about her recently published book on the life and career of actress Olive Borden. Michelle’s previously published work includes biographies on Gene Tierney, Joan Crawford, Olive Thomas and Marjorie Main.

PG: What attracted you to Olive Borden as a subject for you latest biography?

MV: Honestly, I had absolutely no idea who Olive Borden was until a few years ago. At the time, I was researching a book on another Olive – Olive Thomas. A stray article about Olive Borden had been placed amongst some research material I had ordered. An obvious mix up because of the shared first names and profession. Of course, I read it. Well, it was such a sad, brief snippet, an obituary of sorts, that she peaked my interest and I knew that some day I would delve into her life further and write a book. I filed that misplaced snippet away and I’m pleased to say that “Olive Borden: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s ‘Joy Girl’” is now a reality. It’s the first full-length biography and filmography dedicated to her life and career. You appear to be fascinated by actresses from the silent and classic era of Hollywood.

PG: Do you think modern cinema lacks many of the qualities you find appealing about these eras?

MV: For me, there’s a certain mystique about the stars of yesteryear. The term, “they just don’t make ‘em like they used to,” is SO true when it comes to Hollywood and all that it was. The stars, the story-telling, the directors, the costumes, the glamor, the production value, the black and white imagery…I could go on and on and on. So, yes, modern cinema lacks many of those qualities, absolutely! If only the generation of today would sit down and really watch an old movie such as “Sunset Boulevard,” or “Laura,” for instance, and not judge it because it’s in black and white and look at the film as being inferior from the get-go simply because it’s not in color. If they really sat, without judgment, and listened to the story, they’d be hooked within the first twenty minutes. If you move to silent film, there’s another huge hurdle to jump – no sound! In my experience, most people who’ve never seen a silent film have been blown away after watching one. Show a group of kids a Chaplin film and they’ll forget there’s no color and no sound within the first few frames. They’ll laugh as hard as they do with any modern cartoon. Unfortunately, most kids, most adults for that matter, just don’t give the early films any consideration. If they did, they’d be opening themselves to a whole new world.

PG: Do you think readers have an appreciation of just how difficult it is to write a biography?

MV: Yes! Absolutely! Especially when writing a biography about someone who’s died fifty or sixty years ago. Their peers and friends, even their children in some instances, are all dead! There’s no one left to talk to. The further time passes, the more difficult it is to get first hand accounts on any subject. Unless I start writing about more contemporary artists, I’ll always have that problem. I was very lucky to have had the participation of Ralph Graves Jr. throughout the writing process on my Olive Borden book. Ralph’s father, Ralph Graves, worked with Olive Borden on several films and Ralph Jr. knew her when he was a child. Ralph Jr. is now in his upper 80′s, so that just gives his relationship with Olive Borden some perspective. I go above and beyond to research every possible avenue I can when writing my books. I owe it to my readership, I owe it to myself, more importantly, I owe it to my subject. It’s a difficult but rewarding process and it makes it even more rewarding when e-mails come in praising those efforts. If someone likes the book I’ve written and it gives them a better understanding and appreciation of the subject, then I’ve done my job. That’s very satisfying.

PG: Are you frustrated by reviewers who like to accentuate the negative and not give you credit for your extensive research? I believe you uncovered new film credits for Olive Borden.

MV: As an author, especially an author of non-fiction books, I believe “most” certainly not all (eg: Kenneth Anger…), but most authors want to do right by their subject. You have to like the person you’re writing about or you’d never get through the arduous process of producing a book if you didn’t. At least I wouldn’t! If you go the extra mile to find new info (that as I said, is very hard to find after all these years) then it’s pretty disappointing to read a review or opinion that has blatantly pointed out the negatives, and obviously looked for the negatives, but overlooked the positives. I did uncover over thirty new films for Olive Borden that no one had ever given her credit for. As a result, her filmography almost doubled. I was thrilled to be able to include this information. These newly found films that she appeared in were Hal Roach shorts, all very early in her career. She was an extra in most of them. Some of the shorts are “lost”, some of them she’s not seen at all, but others she’s very clearly in view.

PG: Are you working on a new biography at the moment?

MV: Yes, I am. My new subject is a biography and filmography of the “Mexican Spitfire,” Lupe Vélez! Lupe has long been wronged with the “she died with her head in the toilet,” suicide story that was originally printed in “Hollywood Babylon,” written by the aforementioned, Kenneth Anger. This myth has become truth, and it’s time to end that urban legend with a dose of the truth based on REAL facts! Why this lurid embellishment was needed is beyond me! It wasn’t tragic enough that a beautiful, talented, thirty-six year old woman decided the best and only option she had was to kill herself and her unborn child rather than become an unwed mother? Lupe Vélez did NOT die with her head in the toilet. She died in her bed. Actually, aside from her death, quite a lot of Lupe’s life has been wrongly reported throughout the years, especially her early years in Mexico. I’ve been very lucky to have the participation of one of Lupe’s family members and he’s provided me with family photos, never before seen. Quite a few very generous people are providing information and photos that will finally help to give Lupe the book she deserves. I’m very, very excited about this project. It will be released sometime in 2012. Stay tuned for more details as the publication date gets closer.

Olive Borden : The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Joy Girl is published by McFarland & Co. (2010)

Interview © 2010 Paul Green. All rights reserved.

Pete Duel Blog

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Olive Borden – First Print Run – SOLD OUT!

Thanks to everyone who purchased my latest book on Olive Borden. It’s SOLD OUT of its first print run – ALREADY! McFarland are currently awaiting a reprint but backorders are still being taken.

Thanks again for your continued and loyal support of my work!

Order Here!


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132 images of Olive in my new book!

My newest book (the first and only one available!) about the life and career of Olive Borden (due for release, May 15, 2010) is saturated with wonderful photographs – 132 to be exact! Pre order your copy at Amazon.com!

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Olive will be here soon!

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