Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Born Today July 12: Linda Arvidson


Silent film actress and first wife of D. W. Griffith, Linda Arvidson was born Linda Arvidson Johnson in San Francisco, CA on this day.  She met Griffith in 1905 while they were both acting in the same play on the stage; and they wed the following year in May.  She was the star of his earliest films.  Her first film appearance came with the American Mutoscope and Biograph (of course!) produced Mr. Gay And Mrs. in 1907.  She next worked under director Wallace McCutcheon, at Biograph, acting along side her husband.  The first film she is absolutely credited with in one of his films came in The Princess In The Vase in 1908.  The two also worked with Wallace McCutcheon Jr. (see At The Crossroads Of Life (1908), which Griffith also penned).  The first time she was directed by her husband came in The Adventures Of Dollie (1908), which is a rather famous surviving silent and marked Griffith's directorial debut (she was often credited as Linda A. Griffith going forward in her movie acting career).  She added scenario writing to her list of credits in 1911 with How She Triumphed, a film she wrote for her husband to direct.  In all, she has 5 writing credits to her name, two the most important to history are the two Enoch films that Griffith made.  The vast majority of her acting career did come under the direction of her husband at Biograph; however around 1912 or so, the two separated (they didn't formally divorced until 1936).  When this event took place, she then signed a contract as the leading lady with Kinemacolor Company and company that had built it reputation on it's own early color film process; the first film that she made for them was A Christmas Spirit in 1912.  The contract lasted only for one year. She next went to work at Klaw & Erlanger, a company that had a partnership with Biograph; ultimately winding back up at Biograph.  She appeared in her last film in 1916, and that came in Charity a film on white slavery, directed by Frank Powell under the umbrella of his own production company.  She then retired from film acting altogether.  In 1925 she published a memoir When Movies Were Young, it has since be reprinted several times.  Arvidson died in New York City on the 26 of July 1949 at the age of 65.  She is buried in the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

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