Silent film actress Anita Page dies at age 98

Monday, September 8, 2008

Anita Page, an MGM actress who appeared in films with Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford and Buster Keaton during the transition from silent movies to talkies, has died at the age of 98. Page died in her sleep early Saturday morning at her home in Los Angeles, said actor Randal Malone, her longtime friend.

Page was born Anita Pomeres on August 4, 1910 in Flushing, New York. She was the leading lady to Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, Robert Montgomery, and Clark Gable (among others), and during the early 1930s was one of Hollywood's busiest actresses, as well as being romantically involved with Gable. At the height of her popularity, she was receiving more fan mail than any other female star, with the exception of Greta Garbo, and received multiple marriage proposals from Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini in the mail.

Page entered film first with A Kiss For Cinderella in 1925. She and her family were very close to Betty Bronson's family, and she was offered the part through Betty. After a few small but well received parts, she was offered a contract with MGM Studios. MGM molded her into one of their biggest female stars of the silent era, pairing her with such popular actors as Ramon Novarro and William Haines. Her performances in Our Dancing Daughters (1928) opposite Joan Crawford (with whom she appeared in three films), and The Broadway Melody (1929) opposite Bessie Love were her greatest successes of the period, and her popularity allowed her to make a smooth transition into talking pictures.

Page stopped acting when she fell in love with US Navy aviator Herschel House. The couple married in 1936, six weeks after they met, and she settled down to life as an officer's wife, hosting many parties at their home in San Diego Bay.

After House died in 1991, Page returned to acting, starring in suspense thriller Sunset After Dark in 1994.

Her last film appearance came in Frankenstein Rising, a horror due for release later this year.