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Silent film actress Janet Gaynor won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929, for her role in the movie Seventh Heaven.
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She credited her friend the producer Paul Gregory with her survival. They married on 24 December 1964 and made their home in Palm Springs,
where Gaynor painted florals that she successfully exhibited. She also became a gourmet cook and merchandised a line of specialty foods. Gaynor died from pneumonia and complications from an auto accident in 1982 that had injured her husband Gregory and friend Mary Martin. She was buried in Palm Springs.
Despite her lack of professional training and beauty and her limited singing and dancing ability, Gaynor was one of Hollywood's most popular stars, performing in 37 major films. She gave Depression-era audiences a sympathetic and loving heroine. In later years Gaynor said, "We were essences. ... I was the essence of young first love." She was honored with a special award at the 1978 Academy Awards for the "pleasure and entertainment" she had brought to film fans worldwide.
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In the early years of motion pictures, actors were recruited from the stage, resulting in larger-than-life performances that seemed jarring when blown up to the size of a movie screen. As the years went on, actors began to understand the subtleties of the medium, and used more natural expressions to connect with their audiences. They became movie stars, known for their glamorous looks and identifiable personalities. As Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard would say, they didn't need dialogue, they had faces.
Silent Screen Stars 16 people in this group
Best Actress Oscar Winners 68 people in this group
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