Saturday, 14 June 2014

Delores Costello (1903-1979)

Delores and Helene Costello were born to perform as their parents were the actors Mae and Maurice Costello. Although they made their names in late silent and early talkie films during the 1920’s and 30’s, both had appeared in silent films as children.

They often appeared with their father (who was quite the matinee idol) in films produced by the Vitagraph Film Company from c1909 until 1915. The girl went on to perform together in Broadway shows and were soon noticed by the big Hollywood studios, especially in Delores case, MGM.

Even though Delores' first recorded appearance on film was as a fairy in the 1909 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she grew up to be “The Goddess of the Silent Screen”; a nickname she had acquired by 1926 and even had a stint in the Wampas Baby Stars. After her move from Broadway she was contracted to the MGM studio and after a few minor roles she starred with John Barrymore in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”. She also starred along side Barrymore in the 1927 film “When a Man Loves”. I think he must have taken this title to heart as Delores and John were to marry in 1928.

Both sister together in this adorable woodcut print by Frank Martin.

As often seems to be the case with silent starlets, her transition to the talkies wasn’t smooth as she had a lisp which made her uncomfortable in front of a microphone. Undeterred, she took voice coaching and was soon back on the screen appearing with her sister Helene in the 1929 film “The Show of Show”. After the birth of her children, she gradually reduced her work load effectively retiring in 1931.

Later in life, she appeared in a few films, with the last being “This is the Army” in 1943 after which she led a secluded life managing an avocado farm. Interestingly her grand daughter inherited her lisp, the lovely Drew Barrymore
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