MARY PHILBIN – BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN FILM ACTRESS

mary philbin

mary philbin 1 This vintage real photo postcard portrait features American actress Mary Philbin (1902-1993). She was active in film between 1918 and 1930. One of her most noted film roles was in “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925). She co-starred with Lon Chaney. A number of her roles involved playing the “beauty” in “Beauty and the Beast” type stories . Mary was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were middle-class and of Irish descent. Her mother was convivial but controlling and domineering. She pushed her strong religious beliefs onto Mary. She adored her father who was “quiet, shy, and reserved”. She was very similar, personality-wise, to her dad. She would accompany him to the theater and there she developed a passion for the stage. She pursued dance and played the pipe organ and piano. She lacked a singing  voice, and surprisingly, never received training in acting. Mary’s acting career was launched after she won a beauty contest sponsored by Universal Pictures. The motion picture company promptly signed her to a contract. Her screen debut was in 1921 and during the following year she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star. This prestigious annual award, given by an association of film advertisers, was awarded to thirteen young women each year. These women were predicted to be on the verge of becoming major movie stars. During the 1920’s, Mary’s film career blossomed and she starred in a number of successful films, including “Drums of Love (1920), directed by D. W. Griffith. When “talkies” arrived, she played in a few films and even dubbed her own voice for the sound version of “Phantom of the Opera”. Unfortunately, her voice was considered too “girlish” to be suitable for talking pictures. She retired from the screen in the early 1930’s in order to become a caretaker for her elderly parents. She lived the rest of her life as a recluse. She never married and seldom made public appearances. An exception occurred when she attended the Los Angeles opening of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of “Phantom of the Opera”. She died of pneumonia at the age of ninety and is buried in Los Angeles, California. The IMDb reports that Mary appeared in 34 film between 1921 and 1929. She never married.  In 1926 she became engaged to Universal producer, Paul Kohner. When her family learned of the engagement, they were infuriated. They demanded a meeting with Kohner and all went reasonably well until the subject of religion arose. Kohner was Jewish and Mary’s family was Catholic. Mary’s mother was adamant in her belief that Kohner would attempt to convert Mary to Judaism. Paul and Mary informed her parents that no such thing  would happen. An argument developed between Paul and Mary’s parents. She was told by her parents that she would be disowned if she proceeded with her wedding plans. Mary was ambivalent but, in the end, despite still loving Paul, she returned her engagement ring to him. A biographer contends that this traumatic experience is the reason Mary never married.   The youtube video seen below offers a terrific tribute to Mary Philbin. The video was created by Diana Calado (2014). This vintage postcard was published by Ross Verlag, of Berlin, Germany. It is part of a series (no. 968/1). The name of the film distribution company (Filmhaus Bruckmann) can be seen on the bottom right corner of the image. A stamp on the reverse of the postcard indicates that it once was part of a collection belonging to Herman Overeem, of Utrecht, the Netherlands. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

 

Buy this original Vintage Real Photo Postcard (includes shipping within the US) #2697

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$20.00

 

Buy this original Real Photo Postcard (includes International shipping outside the US) 2697

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$28.00

 

 

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Mary Philbin’s ethereal beauty enhanced any film in which she appeared. Though she is undoubtedly most well-known for her role as “Christine Daae” in “The Phantom of the Opera,” I feel her best role was as “Dea” the blind girl in “The Man Who Laughs”–she gave a very touching performance opposite the great Conrad Veidt.

  2. What a lovely video. And what a typical Irish fate.


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