Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Silent Film Actress: Jane Novak.

Jane Novak (January 12, 1896 – February 3, 1990.) After her father died an aunt invited her to California where she began acting in 1913 at the age of 17. The actress began in a stage stock company with her uncle in St. Louis. Novak's career went into the sound film where she performed in 115 movies.

She performed in a movie on her very first day in California, before there was a film studio in Hollywood. There she met Frank Newburg, who took her to a studio in Santa Monica, California, where her aunt, Anne Schafer, was a popular star. Newburg and Novak later married in 1915 and had one daughter. However, the marriage was short lived and the couple divorced in 1918.

Novak flourished as a performer, by sacrificing sensational roles for roles as leading women in more wholesome films. As a result, Novak, refused to work in films with other leading ladies. She played opposite Wallace Beery, Hobart Bosworth, Alan Hale, Thomas Moore, and Lewis Stone. A one time she was engaged to marry Western star William S. Hart, although their marriage never took place. She is best known for her westerns and made five films with Hart.

Novak's movies, Kazan (1921), Isobel (1920), The River's End (1920), and The Rosary (1922). By March 1922 she had her own company and was under contract for five movies. Aside from Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Novak was the first film star to paid in four figures for a single movie. At this time performers were only paid while a motion picture was shooting. An entire film was completed in three or four weeks.

Novak's last starring role was opposite Richard Dix in the Technicolor film, Redskin (1929). The movie was also supposed to be with sound but there was a contract dispute involving this being Dix's final film with Paramount Pictures. So it was made without sound. Novak's voice was good but she made only a handful of pictures following sound. One was a pre-World War II epic, The Yanks Are Coming. It starred Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom. She also performed in Alfred Hitchcock 's Foreign Correspondent in 1940, having meeting him in the 1920s.

In 1974 the former silent screen star published a cookbook entitled Treasury of Chicken Cooking. The volume is a collection of 300 recipes compiled by Novak over the years, all of them her own.

1 comment:

  1. Dawn, thank you for this great tribute to Jane Novak. She gave a moving performance in Wagon Tracks (1919). I'll be looking to see if I find more of her films.


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