Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Born Today June 20: Leah Baird


Early silver screen star turned screenwriter Leah Baird was born on this day in Chicago, Illinois. Like nearly all of her acting contemporaries of the time, she got her start on the stage.  First as a very young woman on summer stages; and later in traveling companies.  At one point she was acting across from Douglas Fairbanks in a touring show.  This got her noticed by filmmakers, with Vitagraph signing her to a contract.  Her first film was Jean And The Waif in 1910.  She actually began her screenwriting earlier than most suppose, given her later work on Clara Bow films in the 1920's.  Her first writing credit came in 1912 in The Dawning; the scenario was wholly original to her, and she also starred int the film. With her contract up at the end of 1913, she worked at the Independent Moving Picture Company of America, before landing at Universal.  The first film that she made for them was Neptune's Daughter (1914), which is a lost film.  She was popular enough to be featured in Universal's one-reel promotional The Great Universal Mystery featuring the studio's current stars.  After making just the one film for them, she went back to Independent (I'm guessing Universal wouldn't allow her to write--just a guess).  By late 1914, she was back at Vitagraph.  From 1916, she was making films with various studios, including a few back at Universal.  She added a production credit to her name in 1920, serving as the executive producer on Cynthia Of The Minute, a film she helped pen and also starred in.  The film was made in concert with her recently founded Leah Baird Productions and Gibraltar Pictures.  She continued to work in the business through 1927, when she took a break.  The last film that she wrote for in the 1920's came with her adaptation and screenplay for The Return Of Boston Blackie (1927), the film was made at Chadwick.  Her last acting  job in the silent era cam in the short King Harold (1927).  She returned to pen Jungle Bride, an Anita Page talkie, in 1933.  She did not return to acting until the 1940's.  Her appearance in Bullets For O'Hara in 1941 marked her first acting job in a sound picture.  Her last acting job came in 1957 in an uncredited role in The Hard Man, a western.  She then retired for good.  She died in Hollywood in 1971 at the age of 88 on October 3rd from acute anemia.  Her ashes are interred at the famed Hollywood Forever Cemetery in the Haven of Worship located inside the Abbey of Psalms.  Baird was married to film producer Arthur F. Beck.

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