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The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era Hardcover – March 30, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0275982591 ISBN-10: 0275982599

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275982599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275982591
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,590,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

With each passing year, their glory fades just a little bit more, but in their heyday they were the most glamorous women the world then knew. They could--indeed, had to-- move an audience to tears with just a gesture, make them laugh with the flick of an eye. Theda Bara, Sarah Bernhardt: these names are legends of Hollywood history; but there were other, equally talented yet lesser known actresses whose contributions to the movie industry have gone largely unheralded--names such as Mae Marsh and Gene Gauntier. Some went from stage to screen; others started out in silent films only to have their careers ended by the "talkies." In an era when women were fighting for the right to vote, these women were among the most powerful in their field, breaking new ground as directors, producers, and screenwriters. With obvious affection and through painstaking research, Menefee brings back to life the women who truly were pioneers of the movie industry. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"The First Female Stars pays homage to the lives of fifteen early female stars who made their first movie appearance between 1900 and 1923... Menefee lovingly recounts the qualities of these stars of the silent screen..."-Journal of American Studies

Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Hans J. Wollstein on September 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This, truly, is a bizarre book. For one thing, the dust cover promises far more than the text delivers. Among the actresses profiled, according to the cover flap, are Hope Brown (who? The name doesn't even appear in the index); Ina Claire, who did 2, count 'em, 2 silent feature films and is only fleetingly mentioned on a couple of pages; Asta Nielsen, who is nowhere to be found; Anna Q. Nilsson, who is given but a cursory nod on a single page; and Dorothy Phillips and Alice Terry, both briefly acknowledged on single pages. I had especially been looking forward to author Menefee's take on the long-forgotten Dorothy Phillips. Those actually profiled include Theda Bara, the Gish sisters, The Talmadges, and Maes Marsh and Murray, most of whom, by stretching it a bit, could be considered early screen stars. But hardly among "the first." Janet Gaynor, in contrast, didn't arrive until 1924 and didn't become a star until 1927. Not exactly a screen pioneer. As for the text itself, the profiles are competent but a bit on the dry side, and several of the actresses have recently enjoyed full-scale biographies by, ahem, more enterprising profilers. Strangely, Mr. Menefee fails to list Eve Golden's wonderful "Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara" in his otherwise lengthy bibliography, nor has he apparently been moved by Charles Affron's solid "Lillian Gish: Her Legend, Her Life," indispensible sources on two of the profiled actresses. In contrast, I see no pressing need for the present volume, whose conclusions include some airy comparisons between the importance of the lost silent films of Pauline Frederick and the future renown of Meryl Streep's cinematic output -- or some such; Mr. Menefee's point remains a bit unclear, at least to this reader.Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lew on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have recently become fasinated with everything from film's silent area, especially the queens of the screen, those remembered and many of those that have been forgotten. Whose films have been lost for all time. I was really hoping for a lot more from this book but I found it to be a dull read, and poorly written. I thought it would be a lot more meaty and it just wasn't. It was a good effort though, and I applaud the author for going into detail about actresses that have almost been forgotten.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author David Menefee has a good track record when it comes to chronicling early cinema and its stars. Ths book
does a nice job of profiling a few of them. The actresses chosen run the gamut----the well-known Gish Sisters (Lillian was active in film and stage throughout a large chunk of the 20th century) through Mae Murray(whose career crashed and burned and who lived in obscurity for the rest of her life).
While this book isn't extremely detailed in terms of comprehensive infomation, it is interesting and informative and should be viewed as a good springboard for further investigation on the genre. My advice is that if you are looking for detailed profiles this most likely is not for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By wayno9999 on February 16, 2015
Format: Hardcover
I would not buy this book it mistakenly credits Carol dempster as the star of The Idol Dancer...it was Clarine Seymour...who received great reviews at the time for her dancing...
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More About the Author

David W. Menefee is an American author. His career began as a writer and marketing representative for the Dallas Times Herald and the Dallas Morning News. In 2003, David struck out on his own as a freelance writer, succeeding immediately with the groundbreaking SARAH BERNHARDT IN THE THEATER OF FILMS AND SOUND RECORDINGS, THE FIRST FEMALE STARS: WOMEN OF THE SILENT ERA, THE FIRST MALE STARS: MEN OF THE SILENT ERA, and everyone's favorite, GEORGE O'BRIEN: A MAN'S MAN IN HOLLYWOOD.

As an esteemed film historian, his RICHARD BARTHELMESS: A LIFE IN PICTURES was named one of the Top 10 Silent Film Books of the Year by the San Francisco Examiner. In 2010, his "OTAY!" THE BILLY "BUCKWHEAT" THOMAS STORY (co-author William Thomas, Jr.) thrilled worldwide fans of the Our Gang/Little Rascals films. In 2011, his WALLY: THE TRUE WALLACE REID STORY (Foreword by Robert Osborne) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was named one of the Top Silent Film Books of the Year by the San Francisco Examiner along with his THE RISE AND FALL OF LOU-TELLEGEN.

David's recent popular successes include the thrilling wartime romantic adventure thriller SECRET SOLDIER MASTER OF DISGUISE, the heartwrenching Civil War epic BROTHERS OF THE STORM, the unforgettable CHARLIE O'DOONE'S SECOND CHANCE (soon to be a motion picture), the spine-tingling MARGOT CRANSTON MYSTERY SERIES (The Voice in the Shadows, The Mystery at Loon Lake, The Secret of the St. Lawrence Lighthouse, and The Quest for the Jade Dragons, the fascinating FALLING STARS: 10 WHO TRIED TO BE A MOVIE STAR, and the monumental SARAH BERNHARDT: HER FILMS, HER RECORDINGS.

In 2012, David released the award-winning Mary Pickford / Owen Moore romance SWEET MEMORIES. He also collaborated with Carol Dunitz on the first volume in the Allison Webster romance trilogy, CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE. The series continues in 2013 with COME AWAY TO PARADISE and CATCH A FALLING STAR.

David also works as a ghost writer, screenwriter, and book editor. He lives in Dallas, Texas, USA.

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The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era
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