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About Gloria Swanson.
A silent screen legend and epitome of early Hollywood glamour who began her career at Chicago's Essanay Studios in 1913, Gloria Swanson married Wallace Beery, another Essanay performer, in 1916 and the pair moved to Hollywood. After appearing in a series of Mack Sennett's romantic comedies at Triangle, she moved to Paramount, back to Triangle, and then back again to Paramount, where she reached stardom in the snappy, sophisticated bedroom farces of Cecil B DeMille ("Male and Female" 1919, "The Affairs of Anatol" 1921).
By the mid-20s, the larger-than-life Swanson was at the peak of her popularity, starring in such lavish vehicles as "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife", "Zaza" (both 1923), "Madame Sans-Gene" (1925), and "The Untamed Lady" (1926). When she returned from Europe with a Marquis as her husband, she received a welcome worthy of any actual queen. In 1927, with financial assistance from investor and erstwhile lover Joseph P Kennedy, Swanson began producing her own films; these included the two features for which she received her first Best Actress Oscar nominations, "Sadie Thompson" (1928) and "The Trespasser" (1929). Her company ran into massive fiscal problems, however, with director Erich von Stroheim's extravagant "Queen Kelly" (1928).
Despite having a fine speaking (and singing) voice, Swanson retired from the screen in 1934 after having made an only moderately successful transition to sound films. She made numerous comebacks before her death in 1983, the most fruitful being her brilliant Oscar-nominated performance as reclusive, aging silent screen star Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" (1950).
November 24th, 2012
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