Thursday, December 31, 2015

How Gloria Swanson Broke Into The Movies

The first time I took notice of Gloria Swanson she was playing a version of herself in Airport '75. I recognized her as the actress that Carol Burnett lampooned on her eponymous television variety show. A few years later when I became vegan I read how Ms. Swanson had been a vegetarian since 1928 and helped to promote her husband's book Sugar Blues (William Dufty). But it wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles that I became familiar with her career as an actress - first in silent films and then in her iconic role as Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard.

Swanson began her career in early Charlie Chaplin and Mack Sennett comedies. By 1919 she was working for Paramount Pictures and with director Cecil B. DeMille. Stardom followed with films such as romantic lead in such films as Don't Change Your Husband (1919), Male and Female (1919) (based on a play by J.M. Barrie), Why Change Your Wife? (1920), Something to Think About (1920), The Affairs of Anatol (1921) and Beyond The Rocks (with Rudolph Valentino). By 1926, she was making independent films as a part owner of United Artists including Sadie Thompson (a huge hit famously remade as Rain starring Joan Crawford) and Queen Kelly (the infamous unfinished film directed by her Sunset Boulevard co-star Eric Von Stroheim).

How Gloria Swanson Broke Into The Movies continues after the
WORLD INTERNET PREMIERE of How I Broke Into The Movies by Gloria Swanson.

How I Broke Into The Movies Gloria Swanson picture
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How I Broke Into The Movies by Gloria Swanson
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Aside from the WORLD INTERNET PREMIERE of Gloria Swanson's essay, I've also uploaded Killer Bees, a 1974 ABC Movie Of The Week considered her last true acting role. (Despite being touted as her television debut, Ms. Swanson had been working in the medium since 1948 when she hosted The Gloria Swanson Hour.) She stars in Killer Bees (produced by Aaron Spelling) with a pre-Charlie's Angels Kate Jackson and Edward Albert.

Killer Bees is considered in the public domain.

In 1957, Swanson performed Those Wonderful People In The Dark written
for a musical version of Sunset Boulevard she was shopping around.
Swanson held numerous backer auditions and performed the numbers
at cocktail parties, but the show didn't progress any further than that.

A cross-dressing Gloria Swanson in
Mack Sennett's The Danger Girl 1916

These musical tracks are recordings Swanson made for her films
The Trespasser (1929), Indiscreet (1931) and Perfect Understanding (1933)

How I Broke Into The Movies was published in 1930 and contains articles on the title theme written by movie stars of the day like John Gilbert, Al Jolson, Greta Nissen, Will Rogers, and 55 other notable actors. The previously published articles are:

A short film in which Swanson dispenses advice to the lovelorn.
Credits imply it was the first of a series that never materialized.

Follow Michael,'s board Gloria Swanson on Pinterest.

The CBS Radio Network broadcast Sunset Boulevard on September 17, 1951
with the film's stars recreating their roles.

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