Karla's Reviews > Dark Star: The untold story of the meteoric rise and fall of legendary silent screen star John Gilbert

Dark Star by Leatrice Gilbert Fountain
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's review
Apr 07, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: film, biographical, non-fiction, pervy-fangirl-crushes
Read in January, 1991

If any silent actor needed a book to exonerate his "conventional wisdom" legacy, it was John Gilbert. His daughter with silent actress/wife Leatrice Joy does a remarkably even-handed job in recounting the life of her father.

The gangly boy of an indifferent mother went on to become a heartthrob to millions of women worldwide, pulling a salary of $10,000 a week at one point ($125K in today's dollars) and getting engaged to the erotic creature Greta Garbo. How could life go wrong? Well, getting jilted at the altar and ensuring his career downfall by punching his boss for insulting his intended bride is one way to ruin it.

Fountain does an excellent job of documenting her father's career and his attempts to be more than just a screen heartthrob in the Valentino mold. The suave lover craze that Valentino spawned made Gilbert famous, but there was much more to him than smoky looks and ardent declarations. Check out The Big Parade or his talkie Downstairs - the man could act rings around the competition, and LB Mayer should still be answering for his petty sabotage and revenge. That Gilbert is still referred to as having a high-pitched and squeaky voice just shows that people love to parrot the same old crap without, oh, WATCHING a talkie of the man's to hear for themselves.

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08/17 marked as: read

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