QUESTION: For which movie was Betty Compson nominated for Best Actress?
B) The Docks of New York
C) Here Comes Trouble
D) The Barker
Many of the major stars of the silent film era are forgotten today, but that has absolutely nothing to do with their accomplishments or the quality of their films. It has everything to do with a lack of appreciation for the early days of the technological marvel that came out of the Edison factory in New Jersey, and the fact that far too many of the old films no longer exist. One of the most famous stars of the 1910's and 1920's was Betty Compson, one of the few actresses who managed to make the transition to talkies, and continued performing in front of the camera well into the 1940's.
Born Eleanor Luicime Compson in Beaver, Utah in 1897, hers would be considered anything but a normal childhood. Her father died when she was a young girl. She was put on the vaudeville stage with a violin to keep food on her family's table. Her beauty, talent and charm led to a role in film, and she made it big. In one year, 1916, when she was just nineteen, Compson was in forty-one movies. Granted, there were forty shorts and one full-length film in there, but it is a reflection on her popularity at that time. She dabbled in all genres of film, too - drama, action, comedy - in the latter starring opposite the likes of Oliver Hardy and Roscoe Arbuckle, two of the most famous comedians of the day.
In 1925, she married the director (and actor) James Cruze, who directed her that year in The Pony Express. The movie was not considered one of her best, nor was the marriage. Cruze was something of a drinker who apparently neglected to pay the mortgage. She got stuck dealing with the financial fall-out, which took her years from which to recover. Her 1928 drama The Docks of New York proved not only to be her final silent film but a critical hit for Compson. Although she transitioned well into talkies, the quality of her roles suffered and she retired from movies in 1948. She got in the business of ashtray production after that, oddly enough, and made a living for herself. Compson passed away in 1974 at the age of 77.
ANSWER: D) The Barker, which was released in 1928. Mary Pickford won that year for The Coquette.