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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vera James, in "Bavu" (1923)
Vera James, in "Bavu" (1923)

Vera James Munro (born Vera Gwendoline James, 2 April 1892 – 19 October 1980) was a New Zealand actress who worked in theatre and film. In 1929 she appeared in the first all-talking, all-colour feature length movie ever made, Warner Bros On with the Show!, and was already well known for starring in A Girl of the Bush in 1921.

Biography

James was born Vera Gwendoline James on 2 April 1892, the daughter of William Francis James and Alice Jane James (née Hill) of Dunedin, New Zealand.[1][2] She moved to Australia in 1919 and appeared in two films for Franklyn Barrett.[3] The first was A Girl of the Bush,[4] [5] which was screened in both Australia and New Zealand.[6] Her performance in the lead role was widely praised for the versatility of her acting, her mimicry, feats of horsemanship, and her good looks.[7] She had learned to ride horses and swim in order to land the role.[8] The second film was Know Thy Child,[9] in which James' character was first shown at the age of seventeen, then aged twenty-five, and finally aged about forty; "in each age she plays the part with restraint and dramatic skill".[10]

After these successes, James moved to Hollywood in 1922,[11] with her new husband, Arthur Henry Munro,[12][13] who she had married on 29 June 1921 at the Presbyterian Church, Neutral Bay, Sydney.[14] In Hollywood, James appeared in a B-Western, McGuire of the Mounted (1923), playing a member of a drug smuggling gang who was married to the hero while he was doped.[15][16] She was cast in Bavu (1923), and appeared in pre-release publicity images,[17][18][19] but does not appear in the cast list of the final release. James also had supporting roles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923),[19][5] The Radio Detective (1925) (a serial),[5][20] Three Wise Men (1925) with Janet Gaynor and Ben Corbett,[21] Fade-Away Foster (1926),[5] and On with the Show! which was the first all-colour, all-talking full-length movie in history.[12][19] She was one of the few New Zealand actors to find some fame in Hollywood at the time.[22]

In 1928 she appeared in a production of the operetta The Desert Song. The Los Angeles Times described her as "not only pleasing to gaze upon, but is possessed of a beautiful contralto voice".[23]

In 1929, she travelled back to Australia and New Zealand, intending to return to Hollywood the following year.[19][24][25] However, there is no evidence that she did.[1][12][19] She was offered parts after returning to Australia, but always turned them down.[26] She went on to manage a beauty salon in Sydney.[8] She died on 19 October 1980 in Sydney.[26]

Credits

References

  1. ^ a b "A New Zealand girl". Auckland Star. LX (158). 6 July 1929. p. Supplement.
  2. ^ "Birth search: registration number 1892/6191". Births, deaths & marriages online. Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Footlight flashes". Truth (1626). New South Wales, Australia. 6 March 1921. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Stratton, David (1980). The last new wave: the Australian film revival. Angus & Robertson. p. 2. ISBN 9780207141461. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "Memory! 3rd edition International Film Heritage Festival" (PDF). Memory Film Festival. Yangon, Myanmar. p. 64. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  6. ^ "New York Goes to Bed". Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1930). Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia. 17 April 1921. p. 22. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  7. ^ "MISS VERA JAMES". Evening Star (17630). 8 April 1921. p. 4. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b Frizell, Helen (6 June 1975). "Out of the Silents, A Flashback to 1921". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Edmondson, Ray; Pike, Andrew (1982). Australia's Lost Films: The Loss and Rescue of Australia's Silent Cinema. Canberra: National Library of Australia. p. 51. ISBN 9780642992512. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  10. ^ "The Grand to-night: Know Thy Child". Hawera and Normanby Star (XLIII: XLIII). 21 January 1924. p. 8. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Vera James". Camera!. Los Angeles, California: Raymond Cannon: 20. April 1923 – April 1923. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "Talkie Trials : Experience of N.Z. Actress". The Sun (5796). New South Wales, Australia. 7 June 1929. p. 18 (FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved 16 November 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "Theatredom and Movie Gossip". The Call (408). Western Australia. 10 March 1922. p. 7. Retrieved 16 November 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "Marriages". Otago Daily Times. 9 July 1921. p. 8. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  15. ^ Kelly, Mary (14 July 1923). "McGuire of the Mounted". Moving Picture World: 157. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  16. ^ Irene (6 July 1923). ""M'Guire of the Mounted" not that kind of a film". Daily News. New York. p. 21. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Three New Universal Films Nearly Ready". Moving Picture World: 701. 17 February 1923. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  18. ^ ""Bavu" Here Friday and Saturday is Great Russian Melodrama Which Has Thrills and Mystery Galore". The Brookville American. Brookville, Pennsylvania. 30 August 1923. p. 8. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d e "Hollywood from the inside". Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1930). Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia. 23 June 1929. p. 23. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  20. ^ 'Studio and Stage', Los Angeles Times 15 Sep 1925: A11.
  21. ^ 'Mary Pickford Premiere Set for Thursday', Los Angeles Times 16 Oct 1925: A9.
  22. ^ "A tour through the United States and Canada". Lake County Press (3065). 6 November 1924.
  23. ^ 'Vera James Known as Contralto too', Los Angeles Times 5 July 1928: A11.
  24. ^ "Social and personal". Evening Star (20316). Dunedin, New Zealand. 26 October 1929. p. 26. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  25. ^ Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 106.
  26. ^ a b "Vera gives up a lead role". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 October 1980. Retrieved 18 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com.

External links

This page was last edited on 16 March 2021, at 18:48
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