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John Gilbert - Silent and Sound Movie Actor - Colorized by goldensilents.com
 

John ("Jack") Gilbert (1897-1936)

The amazing and dynamic person who was John Gilbert was born John Cecil Pringle in Logan, Utah, on July 10th, 1897, into a dysfunctional, itinerant show business family. His mother was a stage actress and his father a comic with the Pringle stock company. John's early life was hard; he was often separated from his mother and sent to live with relatives, but his personal trials made him strong and ambitious for success. Young John (or Jack as he was more often called) dreamed of becoming a movie star from an early age. By 1915 he was in Hollywood, playing bit parts for film producer Thomas Ince, and by 1917 he was becoming noticed by the industry and considered more often for lead roles, such as a romantic one opposite Mary Pickford in her film vehicle "Heart of The Hills" (1919). In addition to acting before the camera, John also enjoyed writing screenplays for films. By the early 1920's he was playing dashing young heroes in films such as "Monte Cristo" (1922), and by the time John won a contract with M-G-M he was an outright Star, playing a wide variety of roles.

Gilbert starred in the financially successful silent film hits "The Merry Widow" (1925), and King Vidor's World War One classic "The Big Parade." (1925). This last movie in particular made a fortune at the box office. Over the years John appeared in films with the top leading ladies of the silent screen era, including Renee Adoree, Billie Dove, Barbara La Marr, Mae Murray, Lillian Gish and Norma Shearer. His reputation as a ladies' man was established through the romantic films he made with Greta Garbo. Rumors of a romantic relationship between them sent the audience attendance and the profits of their films together skyrocketing.

John Gilbert was married and divorced four times, the last three times to actresses: Leatrice Joy, Ina Claire, and Virginia Bruce. He had a daughter with Leatrice Joy, also named Leatrice, and a daughter with Virginia Bruce named Susan.

Unfortunately for John Gilbert's long term career in pictures, he managed to inspire the animosity of M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer. When sound came in John was placed in films that were often not up to his talents. An exception was the pre-code drama "Downstairs" (1934), in which he played a manipulative scoundrel with flair and relish, impressing the critics.

Hollywood lore says that Jack's voice was the reason for his "fall from grace" upon the advent of sound films, but in reality his voice was distinctive and pleasant, perhaps slightly nasal, but certainly not feminine or high-pitched. It was more likely that the revenge of Louis B. Mayer, combined with the overall poor writing of the scripts he was offered during that transitional time in Hollywood, conspired to hurt John's career. John Gilbert died suddenly, at age 36, of a heart attack, on January 9th, 1936. He had been so full of energy that his candle simply was destined to flicker out far too soon.

In 1985 John's daughter Leatrice Gilbert Fountain published a loving and honest book about her famous father and mother, entitled "Dark Star: The Untold Story Of The Meteoric Rise And Fall Of The Legendary John Gilbert" (St. Martins Press). The book is no longer in print, but you can purchase a used copy through the online bookstore abe.com. ~ Copyright © 2004 goldensilents.com

John Gilbert Photo Gallery

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John Gilbert's Silent Films

Desert Nights (1929) .... Hugh Rand
... aka Thirst (1929) (USA)
Woman of Affairs, A (1928) .... Neville 'Nevs' Holderness
Masks of the Devil, The (1928) .... Baron Reiner
Show People (1928) (uncredited) .... Cameo appearance
Four Walls (1928) .... Benny
Cossacks, The (1928/I) .... Lukashka

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert - goldensilents.com

Greta Garbo with John Gilbert off-screen (circa 1934)

Love (1927) .... Captain Count Alexei Vronsky
... aka Anna Karenina (1927) (UK)
Man, Woman and Sin (1927) .... Albert Whitcomb
Twelve Miles Out (1927) .... Jerry Fay
Show, The (1927) .... Cock Robin
Flesh and the Devil (1926) .... Leo von Harden
Bardelys the Magnificent (1926) .... Bardelys

John Gilbert and Lillian Gish - goldensilents.com

John Gilbert and Lillian Gish in the silent film "La Boheme" (1926)

Boheme, La (1926) .... Rodolphe
Ben-Hur (1925) (uncredited) .... Crowd extra in chariot race
... aka Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

John Gilbert in The Big Parade

John Gilbert in his most memorable role, as the soldier James Apperson
in King Vidor's classic World War One film "The Big Parade" (1925)

Big Parade, The (1925) .... James Apperson
Merry Widow, The (1925) .... Prince Danilo Petrovich
Wife of the Centaur, The (1924) .... Jeffrey Dwyer
Snob, The (1924) .... Eugene Curry
He Who Gets Slapped (1924) .... Bezano
Married Flirts (1924) .... Guest at party
His Hour (1924) .... Gritzko
Romance Ranch (1924) .... Carlos Brent
Lone Chance, The (1924) .... Jack Saunders
Man's Mate, A (1924) .... Paul
Wolf Man, The (1924) .... Gerald Stanley
Just Off Broadway (1924) .... Stephen Moore
Cameo Kirby (1923) .... Cameo Kirby
Exiles, The (1923) .... Henry Holcombe
St. Elmo (1923/I) .... St. Elmo Thornton
Madness of Youth (1923) .... Jaca Javalie
Truxton King (1923) .... Truxton King
While Paris Sleeps (1923) .... Dennis O'Keefe
... aka Glory of Love, The (1923)
California Romance, A (1922) .... Don Patricio Fernando
Love Gambler, The (1922) .... Dick Manners
Calvert's Valley (1922) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Page Emlyn
... aka Calvert's Folly (1922) (UK)
Monte Cristo (1922) .... Edmond Dantes, Count of Monte Cristo
... aka Count of Monte Cristo, The (1922)
Honor First (1922) .... Jacques Dubois/Honoré Duboois
Yellow Stain, The (1922) .... Donald Keith
Arabian Love (1922) .... Norman Stone
Gleam O'Dawn (1922) .... Gleam O'Dawn
Ladies Must Live (1921) (as Jack Gilbert) .... The Gardener
Shame (1921) .... William Fielding/David Field, his son
Servant in the House, The (1921) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Percival
Deep Waters (1920) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Bill Lacey
White Circle, The (1920) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Frank Cassilis
Should a Woman Tell? (1919) (as Jack Gilbert) .... The Villain

Virginia Bruce & John Gilbert in Downstairs

Virginia Bruce with John Gilbert in the interesting
early pre-code sound film "Downstairs" (1934)

Heart o' the Hills (1919) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Gray Pendleton
... aka Heart of the Hills (1919)
Widow by Proxy (1919) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Jack Pennington
For a Woman's Honor (1919) .... Dick Rutherford
Red Viper, The (1919) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Dick Grant
Little Brother of the Rich, A (1919) .... Carl Wilmerding
Man Beneath, The (1919) (as Jack Gilbert) .... James Bassett
Busher, The (1919) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Jim Blair
White Heather, The (1919) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Dick Beach
Dawn of Understanding, The (1918) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Ira Beasley
Three X Gordon (1918) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Archie
Mask, The (1918) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Billy Taylor
... aka Mask of Riches, The (1918) (USA)
Doing Their Bit (1918/I) (as Jack Gilbert)
Wedlock (1918) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Granger Hollister
One Dollar Bid (1918) (as Jack Gilbert)
More Trouble (1918) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Harvey Deering
Shackled (1918) (as Jack Gilbert) .... James Ashley
Nancy Comes Home (1918) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Phil Ballou
Up or Down? (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Allan Corey
Devil Dodger, The (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Roger Ingraham
Golden Rule Kate (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... The Heller
Mother Instinct, The (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Jean Coutierre
Hater of Men, The (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Billy Williams
Millionaire Vagrant, The (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... James Cricket
Happiness (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Richard Forrester
... aka Seeking Happiness (1917) (USA)
Dark Road, The (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Cedric Constable
... aka Road to Honour, The (1917) (UK)
Princess of the Dark (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... 'Crip' Halloran
Bride of Hate, The (1917) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Dr. Duprez's Son
... aka Wanted for Murder, Or Bride of Hate (1922) (USA: reissue title)
Weaker Sex, The (1917)
Sin Ye Do, The (1916) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Jimmy
Shell 43 (1916) (as Jack Gilbert) .... English Spy
... aka Shell Forty-Three (1916) (USA)
Eye of the Night (1916) (uncredited)
Apostle of Vengeance, The (1916) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Willie Hudson
Phantom, The (1916) (as Jack Gilbert) .... Bertie Bereton
Civilization (1916) (uncredited) .... Extra
Aryan, The (1916) (uncredited) .... Extra
Hell's Hinges (1916) (uncredited) .... Extra
Last Act, The (1916) (uncredited) .... Extra
Bullets and Brown Eyes (1916) (as Jack Gilbert)
Corner, The (1916/I) (uncredited) .... Extra
Aloha Oe (1915) (uncredited) .... Extra
Matrimony (1915) (uncredited) .... Extra
Coward, The (1915/I) (uncredited) .... Bit Part

To learn more about John Gilbert visit his profile on The Internet Movie Database


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