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Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers, and Misfortunes of 14 Hard-Luck Girls of the Silent Screen Paperback – April 25, 2015
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More About the Author
* Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips, Ankerich's biography of the famed silent film actress, is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2012.
* Ankerich is currently researching Hairpins and Dead Ends: The Perilous Journeys of 15 Actresses Through Early Hollywood, a companion volume to Dangerous Curves atop Hollywood Heels.
Michael G. Ankerich admits there have always been stars going around in his head. While still in college, he began interviewing country music stars as a way to meet his favorites. He considers his best conversations to have been with Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Tammy Wynette, whom he calls the "holy trinity" of country music queens.
He later became interested in silent films and interviewed many of the remaining actors and actresses from that era. His efforts were published in two books: Broken Silence: Conversations With 23 Silent Film Stars and The Sound of Silence: Conversations with 16 Film and Stage Personalities Who Bridged the Gap Between Silents and Talkies.
Broken Silence included interviews with Lew Ayres, William Bakewell, Lina Basquette, Madge Bellamy, Eleanor Boardman, Ethlyne Clair, Junior Coghlan, Joyce Compton, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Dorothy Gulliver, Maxine Elliott Hicks, Dorothy Janis, George Lewis, Marion Mack, Patsy Ruth Miller, Lois Moran, Baby Marie Osborne, Muriel Ostriche, Eddie Quillan, Esther Ralston, Dorothy Revier, David Rollins, and Gladys Walton.
The Sound of Silence included interviews with Hugh Allan, Barbara Barondess, Thomas Beck, Mary Brian, Pauline Curley, Billie Dove, Edith Fellows, Rose Hobart, William Janney, Marcia Mae Jones, Barbara Kent, Esther Muir, Anita Page, Marion Shilling, Lupita Tovar, and Barbara Weeks.
His most recent book, Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers, and Misfortunes of 14 Hardluck Girls of the Silent Screen, was named one of the top 10 silent film books of 2010.
The Real Joyce Compton: Behind the Dumb Blonde Movie Image, written with the late actress Joyce Compton, was released in July 2009.
Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips, is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2012.
A former newspaper reporter, Ankerich has written extensively for Classic Images, Films of the Golden Age, and Hollywood Studio Magazine, which featured his interview with Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) on the 50th anniversary of the release of Gone With The Wind.
An art history buff, he is determined to see every Vermeer at least once, whereever they are in the world. He's seen quite a number so far, but there's always one more to track down.
Top Customer Reviews
I wish that I were an English major so that I could write a review that would really stand out and get people to purchase this terrific book. The stories are so compleling and so many are heartbreaking. He was lucky enough to interview Barbara LaMarr's son and there are new facts concerning her that have never been published. In everything I had ever read, including Jimmy Bangley's piece in Screen Classic, it was said that she was adopted. Turns out that she wasn't and that she had siblings, including a sister (and her boyfriend) who try to kidnap her.
The research on this book was extensive and this made the book so incredibly wonderful. If you are at all interested in silent film history, this is a "must have" and even if you aren't, the stories of these ladies will really hold your interest.
Ankerich has done a thorough job in researching available facts, empathetically profiling the careers of once popular but now obscure stars, detailing their Hollywood struggles/personal demons, their breakthrough moments/challenges in remaining on top---capped-off with great photos and filmographies in nicely mounted book.
In his introduction, Ankerich justifies his selections, rightfully eschewing the well-documented cult names like Clara Bow, Mary Miles Minter, Thelma Todd, et al in favour of Cecil B. De Mille's lesser-known protégées---Agnes Ayres, Wanda Hawley and Elinor Fair, the "Too-Beautiful-to-Live" Barbara La Marr, Ziegfeld's bad, bad girl Imogene Wilson/Mary Nolan, and several other Hard Luck Dames.
The profiles of serial queen Grace Darmond and saucy comedian Marie Prevost were of particular curiosity, igniting interest in wanting to discover the extant silents of these neglected Canadian-born actresses.
Natalie Joyce emerges as the true survivor. Never reaching the top stardom of her cousin, "Joy Girl" Olive Borden, the Al Christie - Mack Sennett starlet was able to quit Hollywood cold turkey---surviving into the 1990s to speak candidly of her Tinseltown adventures.
No easy undertaking, research such as this remains important to film scholarship. As the Silent Era becomes increasingly remote, Ankerich's work helps renew interest in his 14 subjects, perhaps elevating them to a more exalted status.Read more ›
This book takes a look at 14 screen actresses who worked primarily in the silent film era and whose careers and lives took unfortunate turns. While some of the actresses chosen by the author Michael Ankerich are familiar to film buffs, there are some that for the most part have remained under the radar and have been forgotten and ignored. The more commonly known ones include Agnes Ayres, Barbara LaMarr, and Marie Prevost. The seemingly obscure ones (from my pov) include Grace Darmond, Eve Southern, Alberta Vaughn, and Lucille Ricksen. While all of their stories follow a common theme involving fame at a early age, problems with men or booze or drugs, and fading careers, each woman profiled is unique.
While this book might have suffered from an all too familiar sameness, the author through much research (including correspondence with surviving friends and family members) has created interesting and detailed profiles which chronicle their lives and careers and eventual downfall. Fascinating stuff for sure, but their unique stories may very possibly trump their better known screen roles.
Author Ankerich's writing is direct and to the point. He has thoroughly documented and footnoted his information while presenting some fascinating and compelling stories that are very informative as well as interesting. Just one example that I particularly liked was the story of Mary Nolan. I knew some highly generalized facts about Nolan, but Ankerich managed to flesh out Nolan more skillfully than most writers who had tackled Nolan previously.Read more ›
Like the title says, Dangerous Curves profiles fourteen different silent film actresses who had some pretty unfortunate lives. However, Michael G. Ankerich added a twist and profiled fourteen fairly obscure women who either didn't make the transition to talkies, flamed out (both personally and professionally) before talkies ever came along or simply faded away. I think this is a brilliant idea because so many silent film books focus on the same handful of silent stars - male or female. So many amazing and fairly prolific performers from that era are simply forgotten today because their work is lost or they weren't considered major stars. I'm not a silent film history buff by any means, but I do know a few of the more obscure stars. I was surprised that I knew only four of the ones featured in this book (Marie Prevost, Olive Borden, Agnes Ayers and Barbara La Marr).
Ankerich devotes a lengthy chapter to each woman and no stone goes unturned. He doesn't describe things in vague terms like some other authors and, thankfully, he didn't try to pad the book out with unneeded analysis and his personal opinion of the actress' films. I'm not sure why some authors do that in biographies but it seems to be a somewhat annoying trend. The author also did his homework. From the looks of it, he didn't just go online to find out information and call it a day. He used and cites numerous newspaper articles along with interviews and personal records.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good, juicy true life Hollywood heartbreak stories, well told. Chasing after fame hasn't changed much in 90 years. Read morePublished 3 months ago by chacha
Could'nt put this book down. Barbara Peyton had a roller coaster life many ups and downs one of a kind.Published 5 months ago by nancy peterson
Interesting read. Too bad there are so many grammar mistakes and typos which break up the flow. I have read galley proofs with fewer mistakes.Published 6 months ago by R. C. Kanouse
Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers, and Misfortunes of 14 Hard-Luck Girls of the Silent Screen” tells the mostly tragic stories of now-forgotten actresses of... Read morePublished 6 months ago by The Literary Lioness
This book was really FUN to read. As somewhat of an expert on silent film stars (my passion since I was 17... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Marina L
Great, interesting, and easy read. Wish some of the chapters were longer as many of these "forgotten" lives are fascinating to learn about. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Marina L
Lots of solid research but not much flesh to it. Disappointed, but the book was still interesting. Proofreading needed. Read morePublished 15 months ago by D. Gregory
Thank you, Michael Ankerich, for writing about these mainly forgotten women who are a part of film history. I enjoyed this book very much. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Minda Powers Douglas
I love anything old Hollywood. I don't know how well-researched this book is, but it is very interesting. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Georgia Mountain