Silent Film Performers is a terrific compilation of sources that are readily available to fans and researchers. You’ll find the very well known, like Chaplin, Garbo and Valentino, to the obscure, such as Mabel Ballin (wife of director Hugo Ballin who occasionally starred in his films and supported larger stars like Tom Mix) and Valeska Suratt (who happened to be a Theda Bara “vamp” clone in the mid teens).
With each performer you will find the following information: a brief bio, birth place, year of birth and death, and career information. More importantly, what makes this book truly unique in an overview of commercially published books and articles about, or written, by the performer – and where to find them.
But wait, there’s more! Each performer has a listing of archival materials, including clipping files, photographs, letters, scrapbooks and other related memorabilia. All of these resources make it possible to dig more deeply into the background of the character performers that graced the silent, silver screen and helped the big stars to shine brighter than ever.
Author Roy Liebman has taken a great burden off of researchers everywhere. He has spent thousands of hours ferreting out these talented and sometimes elusive actors and actresses so that fans like us can access all this information and dispense with the guess work (not to mention the pencil breaking hours) of researching.
Silent Film Performers has two more fact filled sections that no film preservationist should be without. The first is a detailed directory of collections (libraries and archives) related to silent film listed by state, with one in both Canada and Great Britain. The last section is a bibliography of 46 pages of the best books, current and out of print, and 2 pages of other media (audio, video and films) on the silent era. This book is literally an index for a silent era library that you can carry easily in your hand.
Silent Film Performers: An Annotated Bibliography of Published, Unpublished and Archival Sources for Over 350 Actors and Actresses (McFarland, 1996) by Roy Liebman. 383 pages, including bibliography and index. Non-illustrated. Hardbound only. This book can be purchased on-line through Amazon.com. The Silents Majority is proud to be a member of the Amazon.com associates. Amazon.com will ship books and provide customer service for orders they receive through special links on The Silents Majority’s Featured Book Page.
Roy Liebman is a librarian and the film bibliographer at California State University, Los Angeles. Besides Silent Film Performers, he is the author of a book now in press at McFarland that covers the careers of 500 silent film actors and actresses who made the transition to the talkies. He has written two entries for the to-be-published third edition of The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers and will contribute an article on World War I propaganda film to the Encyclopedia of Propaganda. He also has written over 100 reviews of cinema books for Library Journal and has published several articles in professional journals, as well as co-authoring a textbook for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
As a long time activist in film preservation, Roy Liebman has this to say about the silent film renaissance, “Silent films reached great artistic heights just before the introduction of dialogue to the cinema. The preservation efforts now underway are giving the public the opportunity to see the evolution of the art of silent pictures. Many films, some of them classics, were long unavailable or believed to be lost. They are now available to treasure once more and, with their re-emergence, unjustly forgotten, silent players are once again having their talents appreciated. To support preservation is to support a true art form.”