BILLIE DOVE: BEAUTIFUL FILM ACTRESS, GIRL FRIEND OF FLORENZ ZIEGFELD AND HOWARD HUGHES

Billie Dove (1903-1997) was an American actress. Her parents were Swiss immigrants. During her teenage years, she worked as a model to support her family. Florenz Ziegfeld hired her as a teenager to appear in the Ziegfeld Follies Revue. She was not a particularly talented dancer or singer, her beauty and acting ability were her major assets. In the early 1920’s she moved to Hollywood and began appearing in silent films. It has been written that Ziegfield’s wife, actress Billie Burke, helped facilitate Dove’s transition to films. Apparently, Burke was trying to separate Dove from her husband because the pair were having an affair. It did not take long for her to become one of the more popular actresses of the 1920’s. Among her better known films was “The Black Pirate” (1926) with Douglas Fairbanks, and “The American Beauty” (1927). Dove was a ravishing beauty and was very photogenic. She married director, Irvin Willat, in 1923. The marriage had a six year duration. She then had a three year romance with Howard Hughes. Dove’s other interests included being a pilot, painter, and poet. After her last film, “Blondie of the Follies” (1932), Dove retired from films. It is thought that she retired because she was distraught about her role in her last film being “trimmed” by her co-star’s (Marion Davis) influential boyfriend (William Randloph Hearst). Hearst was upset because Miss Davis’s acting was overshadowed by Dove’s acting. Mr Hearst owned Cosmopolitan Productions which produced the movie. After retirement, Dove married oil executive Robert Kenaston in 1933 and the couple remained together until Kenaston’s death in 1970. She had a brief third marriage to an architect. It is interesting to note that jazz singer, Billie Holiday, borrowed Billie Dove’s first name when picking out her own stage name. Miss Holiday was an admirer of Miss Dove. The IMDb lists 50 movie credits for Billie Dove between 1921 and 1962, This vintage real photo postcard was published by “Ross Verlag”, The photographer of Miss Dove’s portrait was Defina of First National Pictures. This postcard is in excellent condition (see scans).

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MARIE PREVOST: SILENT FILM STAR AND UPSETTING SUBJECT OF A SONG BY NICK LOWE

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The pretty actress featured in this vintage real photo postcard is film actress Marie Prevost (1896-1937). She was born in Canada and during her twenty-year career, she made 121 silent and talking movies. She was originally “discovered” by Mack Sennett who inked her to a film contract after she played a bit part in one of his movies. She was only on the set (Keystone Studios) because she was running an errand for the law firm where she was employed as a secretary. She became one of his Bathing Beauties in the late 1910’s. She appeared in dozens of Sennett’s short comedy films. Her first lead role was for Sennett in “Yankee Doodle in Berlin” (1919). She than began to make feature length films for Universal Studios, where she signed for $1,000.00 a week. In 1922 she moved to Warner Brothers where she became one of the studio’s leading ladies (her contract was for $1,500.00 per week). Her movie roles at Warner included “The Beautiful and Damned” (1922), “The Marriage Circle” (1924), and “Kiss Me Again” (1925). Warner Brothers dropped her in 1926 and her career began to diminish as she was offered primarily secondary roles. Her personal life also began to decline, if not plummet. Her mother died in 1926 and her second marriage, to actor Kenneth Harlan, fell apart in 1927. She became very depressed and her symptoms included alcohol abuse and binge eating. In 1928 she was cast in “The Racket” which was directed by Howard Hughes. The pair had a brief affair and when it ended, Prevost fell into an even deeper depression. It became increasingly difficult for her to obtain parts in films and her last film role was in 1936. At the age of 38, Marie Prevost died from acute alcoholism and malnutrition. Her estate was worth just three hundred dollars and her death helped prompt the creation of the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital. The details of Prevost’s death have become a bit of Hollywood legend. She was found in her apartment two days after her death. Also at death scene were empty bottles of alcohol, a promissory note to Joan Crawford, and Prevost’s pet dachshund. She was discovered because neighbors had complained about her dog’s continued barking. The legend claims that by the time she was found, her corpse was half-eaten by Maxie, her dog. It was asserted that this of course was only because the dog was trying to awaken his deceased master. This story is not true, but it appeared in Kenneth Anger’s book “Hollywood Babylon” (1959) and in Nick Lowe’s song “Marie Provost” (1978). The lyrics from Lowe’s song include “She was the winner, That became the doggie’s dinner, She never meant that much to me, Woe, poor Marie”. This postcard was published by A.N. of Paris for Universal Films. It is part of as series entitled “Les Vedettes de Cinema” (The Stars of Cinema). This postcard is the first in the series (No. 1).

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