The Sound of Silence

Conversations with 16 Film and Stage Personalities Who Bridged the Gap Between Silents and Talkies


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About the Book

Marion Shilling began her career as a silent film ingenue for MGM and went on to play heroines in Westerns of the 1930s. Stage actress Esther Muir made the transition from Broadway to Hollywood just as talkies became popular. Hugh Allan was a leading man in the last years of the silents only to leave the film business in 1930 because of the uncertainty surrounding his transition to sound films and his disgust with studio politics. These three performers and thirteen others (Barbara Barondess, Thomas Beck, Mary Brian, Pauline Curley, Billie Dove, Edith Fellows, Rose Hobart, William Janney, Marcia Mae Jones, Barbara Kent, Anita Page, Lupita Tovar, and Barbara Weeks) reminisce here about Hollywood and the movie business as it made the transition.

About the Author(s)

Michael G. Ankerich is a writer whose work focuses on the silent film era of Hollywood. A former newspaper reporter, he has written extensively for Classic Images, Films of the Golden Age, and Hollywood Studio Magazine, which featured his interview with Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) on the 50th anniversary of the release of Gone With The Wind. He can be reached at his website

Bibliographic Details

Michael G. Ankerich

Foreword by Marion Shilling

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 65 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2011 [1998]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6383-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8534-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Foreword by Marion Shilling      xi
Introduction      1

1. Hugh Allan      3
2. Barbara Barondess      15
3. Thomas Beck      33
4. Mary Brian      44
5. Pauline Curley      61
6. Billie Dove      73
7. Edith Fellows      98
8. Rose Hobart      111
9. William Janney      124
10. Marcia Mae Jones      140
11. Barbara Kent      155
12. Esther Muir      165
13. Anita Page      179
14. Marion Shilling      201
15. Lupita Tovar      218
16. Barbara Weeks      234

Index      251

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Ankerich is another of the really, really good writers we have on classic film. How could you pass this up…an excellent read, entertaining, and well written with great photos”—Classic Images
  • “pleasurable reading…engaging period photographs and exhaustive individual filmographies…detailed research, vividly recounts what it was like to be an early screen siren”—Film & History
  • “this compulsive collection of vivid reminiscences is a fascinating journey back to early cinema. It’s the next best thing to traveling back in a time machine”—Film Review
  • “richly detailed and consistently interesting…these performers…have absorbing and entertaining stories to tell…excellent photographs”—Past Times
  • “recommended…a generous selection of photos”—The Silents Majority