Thursday, May 27, 2010

Viola Dana

Viola Dana, first silent film was made at a former Manhattan riding academy in 1910. The stalls had been made into dressing rooms. She fell in love with Edison director John Hancock Collins (1889 - 1918) and they married in 1915. Dana's performed in Collins's Edison films, Children of Eve (1915) and The Cossack Whip (1916). Soon after producer B. A. Rolfe, offered the couple contracts with his company, Rolfe Photoplays. Dana and Collins accepted Rolfe's offer in 1916 and filmed, The Girl Without A Soul and Blue Jeans (both 1917).

Soon after Viola Dana, moved out to California acting for Metro. In 1920, she became engaged to Ormer Locklear, an aviator and military veteran. Locklear was the prototype for the Robert Redford movie, The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), and Dana was an honored guest for the premiere of The Great Waldo Pepper.

One of Viola Dana's last important roles was in Frank Capra's, That Certain Thing (1928). She retired from the screen in 1929. Her final performances were in, Two Sisters (1929), One Splendid Hour (1929), and (with her sister Shirley Mason, née Leonie Flugrath) The Show of Shows (1929). Viola performed in over 100 films. More than 50 years after her retirement she performed in the documentary Hollywood (1980), talking about her career as a silent film star during the 1920s. Footage from the interview sessions was used in the 1987 documentary Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow.

Cinderella Twin (1920)
Connie McGill, a scullery maid dreams of better things. One day, while serving, she sees her Prince Charming, Prentice Blue. Unfortunately, Blue has nothing but his social standing and Nathaniel Flint, wishes his daughter Helen to marry him in order to gain family status. Flint gives a big party for Helen, which attracts the attention of the Du Geen band of crooks. They help the unsuspecting Connie with proper clothes, and she ends up at the party dancing with Blue, who falls in love with her. As she leaves, she accidentally leaves her slipper with Blue. Unknown to her, the crooks put a key in her shoe to Flint's safe.


  1. Dawn, I enjoy silent films and am beginning to watch them more and more as I get the opportunity. I'm fascinated with the history of cinema, and learning about the stars of that era is very interesting to me. Thanks for another write-up that reveals another silent actress I had not heard of before.

  2. Beck, I'm having so much fun to learning about Silent Films. It is so Awesome to have Silent sharing her favorite Silent films with us here at, Noir and Chick Flicks.


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