I love Constance Talmadge, the silent film star who was born on this day in 1898. I’ve only seen her in one full length movie—D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance. Her performance as Mountain Girl is so fresh, so modern, so fun. You sure can’t say that about the rest of the film! I first encountered the Talmadge sisters when I was reading books about Buster Keaton, at the beginning of my love affair with silent film (A Silent Scream). Buster Keaton married Natalie Talmadge, middle sister to Constance and Norma. Having the Talmadges for in-laws was no picnic for Keaton! I was surprised to find Constance so delightful onscreen, after the stories I’d read about these formidable ladies.
Constance Talmadge was a fair-haired comedienne, unlike her older sister Norma, a brunette known for serious roles. In spite of the 83 film credits listed at IMDb, very few of Constance’s movies are available for viewing, if they exist at all. I’m aware of only five on DVD: Intolerance, The Primitive Lover, Her Night of Romance, Her Sister From Paris, and The Duchess of Buffalo. A few of her shorts are included in DVD anthologies, like The Matrimaniac with Douglas Fairbanks. I keep hoping that a title sitting in some archive will be restored for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. (The festival needs more comedies!) Constance Talmadge retired from films when sound was introduced. She died in 1973 at the age of 75.
Happy Birthday, Dutch!