Gloria Swanson


(1899-1983)

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They Had Faces Then

    People always think that Gloria Swanson was Norma Desmond, the flamboyant, crazed heroine she plays in Billy Wilder's acid Sunset Boulevard (1950) - for, like Desmond, Swanson was a big movie star in the silent days. She was directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Erich von Stroheim, both of whom appear in Sunset Boulevard as figures from Norma Desmond's past. Moreover, the extract from Queen Kelly (1928) which illustrates how Stroheim used to direct Norma is in fact from the film in which Stroheim directed Swanson for her own production company. Thus the identification seems complete; except that Norma Desmond is living in the past while Swanson was truly up to date until her death in 1983, a successful businesswoman in many areas, a busy actress on stage and screen, a world famous proselyte for macrobiotic foods and a member of the international jet-set.


    Second Sunrise

    However it was undoubtedly Sunset Boulevard that made Swanson into a modern cult figure, and it contains her best performance, no doubt partly because it is overall the best film she has made in her long career. It is also the most spectacular and newsworthy comeback in the whole history of cinema, for in 1950 she had made only three films in the previous 17 years, and had not had a hit since The Trespasser in 1929. Suddenly handed a role which most actresses should have given thir eye-teeth for, she seized on it with such unsparing relish as to make it totally her own - and seemingly disappear into it.

    The real Gloria Swanson was no tragedy queen like Norma Desmond but a 'lightweight' and often a comedienne. She was also a famous clothes-horse, and when scenarists could think of nothing else for her to do , she could always be relied upon to take the audience's breath away by sweeping onto screen in yet another stunning confection.


Gloria Swanson, 1924



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laurence olivier | clark gable | vivien leigh | leslie howard | alfred hitchcock
robert montgomery | grace kelly | conrad veidt
olivia de havilland | humphrey bogart | howard hawks | frank capra | charlie chaplin | lauren bacall | fritz lang
jean harlow | greta garbo | ava gardner | audrey hepburn | edward g. robinson | john garfield
erich von stroheim | wim wenders | madeleine carroll | marlene dietrich | rita hayworth



gloria swanson dvds



gloria swanson videos



gloria swanson

biog. | gallery | dvds | videos

other galleries

laurence olivier | clark gable | vivien leigh | leslie howard | alfred hitchcock
robert montgomery | grace kelly | conrad veidt
olivia de havilland | humphrey bogart | howard hawks | frank capra | charlie chaplin | lauren bacall | fritz lang
jean harlow | greta garbo | ava gardner | audrey hepburn | edward g. robinson | john garfield
erich von stroheim | wim wenders | madeleine carroll | marlene dietrich | rita hayworth


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