Saturday, August 26, 2017

Born Today August 26: Ruth Roland


Silent movie and serial maven Ruth Roland was born into a theatrical family on this day in San Francisco, CA. It is no surprise then that she became a child actress in vaudeville, and eventually went on to tour the circuit as such, ending up in New York City.  She is one of the first California girls, having gone to Hollywood High School, to go on to be a movie star in the first studio system back east.  Her first appearance in film came under contract with Kalem in The Scarlet Letter in 1908 with silent star Gene Gauntier in the leading role as Hester Prynne.  She was not long after billed as one of the "Kalem Girls."  It was not long before Kalem sent her back to California to work in their brand new west coast production studio (they were one of the first studios to began that migration).  She stayed with the company through most of the year 1915, when she signed a lucrative contract with Balboa Amusement, this is when she went from darling of the short film to one of the queens of the early serial.  The first serial that she starred in for them was The Red Circle (1915) (having made one melodrama for them before this:  Comrade John 1915).  At Balboa she went from being a star to something like a true movie, or super, star.  In the most lucrative part of the her career--from the mid 1910's through the mid 1920's--she appeared in more than 200 pictures, though most of these for filmed before 1920.  She stayed with Balboa through the first part of 1918, then after making films for different companies.  The first film that she made after leaving Balboa was one for the history books.  Cupid Angling 1918 was made by the Douglas National Color Film Company and was shot in it's own proprietary color process called "Naturalcolor."  Having become accustomed to acting in serials, she eventually founded her own company Ruth Roland Serials in 1919.  The first production featuring her in the starring role that the company produced was The Adventures Of Ruth (1919).  After 1927, she was effectively retired.  The last film that she made during her active career is the now lost The Masked Woman (1927).  She appeared in just two more films during her lifetime.  She starred in the all sound Reno in 1930; her last film was From Nine To Nine in 1936.  Tragically she died the following year at the young age of 45 in Hollywood on the 22 of September from cancer.  She is interred at Forest Lawn in Glendale in the Mausoleum.  

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