Legendary actor, John Gilbert, was born John Cecil Pringle on Jul 10, 1899 in Logan, UT. Gilbert died at the age of 36 on Jan 9, 1936 in Hollywood, CA and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale) Cemetery in Glendale, CA.
Early Life and Career
John Gilbert was born John Cecil Pringle on July 10th, 1899 in Logan, Utah to a family of show business. His parents were working actors, traveling the country with differing stock companies, often leaving the young John alone and neglected. Due to his family's profession, John was frequently on the move, attending many different schools before finally settling in California as a teenager.
While in California Gilbert began to take an interest in the family business and in 1915 began picking up extra work at Thomas Ince studios. He was quickly noticed by the French Director Maurice Tourneur, who took the young actor under his wing. Tourneur had Gilbert not only acting, but writing and directing as well and within two years Gilbert was playing leading roles. His popularity among the movie going public quickly began to grow thanks to film like Heart o' the Hills and The Red Viper.
Thanks to his growing reputation as a leading man, 1921 Gilbert entered a three-year contract with the Fox Film Corporation. His popularity only grew with leading roles in films like Monte Cristo, St. Elmo, and Madness of Youth. After completing his three-year obligation to Fox, in 1924 Gilbert made the leap to MGM films.
While at MGM, Gilbert's star only grew brighter, quickly becoming one of the most popular actors in the world. He was given choice roles in film such as King Vidor's His Hour and Victor Sjostrom's He Who Gets Slapped starring opposite super stars Lon Chaney and Norma Sheaer. In 1925 Gilbert starred in the King Vidor wartime epic The Big Parade, which would go on to become the highest grossing film of the year. The next year he was personally chosen by Lillian Gish to star opposite her in the big screen adaptation La Boheme.
Super Stardom and Garbo
After the death of Rudolph Valentino in 1926, Gilbert became the highest paid and most popular leading actor in Hollywood. That same year he starred in the Clarence Brown romantic-melodrama Flesh and the Devil opposite Greta Garbo. During the film's production, the on-screen love affair between Gilbert and Garbo began manifesting off-screen and the pair quickly entered a whirlwind romance, shaking up together before the film was completed. Their off-screen romance proved to be a great publicity tool for MGM, causing quite the stir amongst the movie going public. The couple eventually planned to wed but when the day finally came, Garbo back out, leaving Gilbert alone at the altar.
Although the Gilbert/Garbo romance proved to be tumultuous, MGM continued to use their popularity with audiences to their advantage. In 1927 Gilbert and Garbo starred in the modern adaption of Anna Karenina titled Love. The next year they appeared in Woman of Affairs. Both films were proved successful.
During his time at MGM, Gilbert was continually at odds with studio head Louis B. Mayer over not only creative matters, but his relationship with Garbo as well. Despite the size of his stardom, Gilbert proved to be match for Mayer and soon his career would go into the decline. With the advent of talking pictures, it was inevitable that soon the silent screens biggest stars would have to lend their voices to the screen. While some stars were able to make the transitions without a hitch, others were not. And Gilbert, unfortunately, was in the latter category.
Although Gilbert's voice made a good first impression in The Hollywood Recue of 1929, appearing opposite Norma Shearer in a short scene from Romeo and Juliet, his later talkies would prove disastrous. In his first feature length talkie His Glorious Night, Gilbert's voice sounded nervous, high-pitched and nasally. Audiences were puzzled how such a great silent star could have such a lackluster voice. It has been rumored that Louis B. Mayer purposefully ordered his voice be manipulated to appear higher than it was in reality in an effort to ruin his career.
For the rest of his career, Gilbert was given lackluster roles in mediocre films such as Redemption, The Phantom of Paris and Downstairs. In 1933 Garbo insisted he play her leading man in the film Queen Christina. Although the film was a success and Gilberts voice sounded perfectly fine on screen, the role did little to revive his dying career. The next he appeared in final film as Steve Bramley in The Captain Hates the Sea. By this time not only was his career in a tailspin, but his life as well.
By the time of the release of his final film in 1934, Gilberts alcoholism has taken a server toll on his overall health. In 1935 he suffered a heart attack. Less than a month later, in January of 1936, Gilbert suffered a second heart attach that would prove fatal. John Gilbert died on January 9th, 1936. He was 38 years old.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
Although Gilbert was nominated for one Oscar, he never won a competitive Academy Award.
|2001||Best Film Editing||The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)||N/A||Nominated|
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Assistant manager: [after reading telegram] A woman from home! Haven't seen a white woman in years.
Hugh Rand: Don't expect too much. No beauty would come to this desolate hole.
[Takes the telegram]
Hugh Rand: I bet she's an old maid - bow-legged and cross-eyed.
Joan: Did you ever have a mother and father, or did the Merchant Marine find you in a crow's nest?
Jack: Why, sure. Everybody has a mother and father, I guess.
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