Constance Talmadge

Active - 1914 - 1971  |   Born - Apr 19, 1899   |   Died - Nov 23, 1973   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Unlike her older sister Norma Talmadge, whose specialty was heavy drama, American silent film actress Constance Talmadge was most comfortable with bubbly light comedy. Beginning her career as a $5-a-day extra, Constance scored her first success as the tomboyish Mountain Girl in the Babylonian segment of director D.W. Griffith's gargantuan multi-episode production Intolerance (1916). So popular was her portrayal that, as a balm to audiences, Griffith refilmed the Moutain Girl's death scene for the Babylonian sequence when it was reissued separately in 1919 as The Fall of Babylon, allowing Talmadge a happy ending. The actress' brother-in-law, producer Joseph M. Schenck, set up the Constance Talmadge Film Company in 1917, giving her full control regarding script and costar approval. Though few of her films survive, Constance Talmadge is still remembered by her aging fans for such sprightly feature comedies as A Virtuous Vamp (1919), Polly of the Follies (1922) and Her Sister from Paris (1925), the last-mentioned film providing an early costarring opportunity for Ronald Colman. Not wishing to bother with the advent of talking pictures, Talmadge retired after shooting her last silent film, Venus (1929), in France. Too wealthy to worry about her fame passing, Constance Talmadge devoted her last years to her fourth husband and her charity work, never once entreating or even considering a movie comeback.

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