From the publisher’s book description:
The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era rediscovers the fascinating lives and pioneering achievements of 15 women who dared to venture into early motion pictures, an industry dominated by men, and who not only succeeded but became the focal points of the industry. Each star earned a position at the height of her profession, and though many are largely forgotten today, made a lasting and significant contribution to early cinema. In this entertaining and informative volume, author David Menefee reveals these women and their signature roles, drawing on many original sources to show us how such actresses as Theda Bara, Sarah Bernhardt, Dorothy Gish, and Norma Talmadge were received in their time, and the many ways in which their influence remains important today.
Each profile contains a biographical treatment, an analysis of key films from her career, a discussion of the actress’s influence on the medium, and selected filmography. Each also includes two photographs, most often one of the actress herself and a still from a film.
Reader reviews on Amazon:
A fitting tribute to these pioneering women of film.
This book is more than a loving tribute to some remarkable women; it is a painstaking research work that reveals the triumphs of women who dared to venture into the early motion picture business. Originally a massive, forty-chapter tome, the publisher edited it down to its current size after the dust cover was printed, which is why there are some names listed inside the cover that do not appear within the book. That flaw aside, each chapter reveals the inner thoughts of each woman about their struggles to succeed in the fledgling film business, and shows their human sides while keeping them on the pedestals they so richly deserve. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on actresses that have never had well-researched biographical treatments written about them: Laurette Taylor, Mae Marsh, and Dorothy Gish. The author takes the position that any actress appearing in silent films ranks as one of the “firsts,” and under that premise, each chapter delves deeply into their personality, and then bores in on one particular film that captured either the essence of their appeal or stood out as a work that attempted to strike against the grain of their well-known image. This book fills a much-needed niche, and I found it highly entertaining.
The achievements of fifteen silent film women
From Theda Bara to Anna Nilsson and Sarah Bernhardt, the achievements of fifteen silent film women who entered early motion pictures to become key personalities of the industry are presented in David Menefee’s The First Female Stars: Women Of The Silent Era. Menefee produced the first comprehensive study of actress Sarah Bernhardt’s work previously, and here uses original sources to examine the influence and significance of her contemporaries.
Martin Turnbull | Jul 17, 2013