The Crazy (and Sad) Lives of Silent Movie Stars!

Adrian Sharp at Listverse came up with 10 Crazy Stories about Silent Film Stars.  It’s a good read that includes video to back up the chosen tales.  Before you click over…

I’m a silent movie fan.  When I watch a silent film, I look up information about the people who created it.  I’ve often been surprised at the lives they lead and how many ended with tragic or even mysterious deaths.  Sharp brings us the stories of ten silent film stars.  Here are my three favorite from his picks and my thoughts on each…

Stunt Pilot Ormer Locklear.  This is the one star I wasn’t aware of.  When you click over check out the video of Locklear’s stunts – wing walking, hanging by a knee, doing flips, climbing above and below the wings of a plane flying hundreds, if not thousands, of feet in the air… and WITHOUT A PARACHUTE.  Fearless or crazy – you decide.  Sadly, Locklear died performing an airplane stunt for a film.

Jean Harlow in “Kill and Be Killed”.  Jean Harlow was discovered by Howard Hughes who cast her in Hell’s Angels, Harlow would go on to work with Chaplin, Gable, Cagney to name just of a few of her leading men.  Fay Wray said that Harlow was the original choice for King Kong.  She was a close friend of gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.  She married MGM executive Paul Bern, who two months into their marriage was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head.  His death was ruled a suicide, but some believe Bern was murdered due to some unusual circumstances and the fact that the police were called AFTER Louis B, Mayer had a chance to get to the crime scene.  Harlow died at the young age of 26 under what some consider mysterious circumstances as well.

Thelma Todd’s Impossible Suicide.  Todd ruled the silver screen making over 100 shorts and feature films, appearing with Buster Keaton, The Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy.  Todd was found dead inside her car that was in the garage of her lover’s ex-wife.  There were conflicting reports of injuries to her body, she left no suicide note and had appeared to be in good spirits in the time preceding her death.  Although her death was considered a murder by many, it was ruled a suicide by a grand jury.

Although not on Sharp’s list, the story of Louise Brooks is another sad tale of a silent era star.  Brooks quickly rose from being an uncredited extra to getting contract offers from both MGM and Paramount.  At the start of her career she worked with top directors and stars and by the end she left Hollywood and worked as a high priced call girl.