John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars

John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars

John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars

John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars

Excerpt

October 1929, “If I Had a
Talking Picture of You”

It’s all very well to make pictures of these heroes and villains of
the past, but are they honestly and truthfully any more romantic
than the man who fills my gasoline tank? How do you know
what emotions the man across the street from you is experienc
ing? How do you know what love has come into his life, what
he feels?

—John Gilbert, 1927

I wish I could tell you, in a few words, the whole story of those
dreadful years, these years that the locusts have eaten…. So
many things, so many reasons, they would fill a book.

—John Gilbert, 1933

Honeymooners John Gilbert and Ina Claire were among the more eyecatching American tourists in Europe in the summer of 1929. Fortyish Ina Claire was Broadway’s leading light comedienne, and as for John Gilbert—in his early thirties, he was the screen’s hottest heartthrob, the top male sex symbol of the late 1920s and one of MGM’s box-office champs. Handsome, mercurial, and very talented, he had already married and divorced one star (Leatrice Joy) and had famously taken movie newcomer Greta Garbo as his lover—“Jack” Gilbert (as he was known to friends and enemies alike) would go on to marry another actress (in-

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