ISN’T SHE SWEET!
Mae Marsh was a movie star whose heyday occurred in the era of silent pictures. She appeared in more than 100 pictures before 1928, including D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916) and The Birth of a Nation (1915), and made another 90 or so once the switch had been made to talking pictures.
In 1921, in response, she claimed, to thousands of requests for advice from her fans, she authored a short book, “Screen Acting” that is one part memoir and two parts instruction book for those hoping to find work acting on the screen.
We were particularly intrigued (and, we’ll admit, amused) by the book’s third chapter, in which Ms. Marsh addresses, among other salient matters, the need for actors to be , er, clean-living and pure of heart and mind.
Does that describe the Hollywood of legend and lore? No, bless Ms. Marsh’s earnest heart.
Seven qualities that indicate fitness for a screen career
–Why they are important–An illustration of vitality.
As I have said, I have been asked by thousands of correspondents for the formula for screen success. I have never felt able to answer. I don’t believe htere is any such formula.
Putting the proposition another way:
If I were requested to choose from among ten beginners the one who would go farthest in motion pictures I should unhesitatingly lay my finger upon the one who possessed the following qualifications:
(1) Natural talent.
(5) Agreeable appearance.
(6) Vitality and strength.
(7) Ability to learn quickly.
I’m sure I would not go far wrong if I were to place my trust in one endowed with these qualities.
A natural talent for acting implies more than a mere desire to act. It is the art, usually discovered during childhood, of mimicry, and the joy in that art.
How many of us have been convulsed in our earlier years at some school girl friend’s take-off of our teacher? I seem to remember that in my grammar school days I was called upon more or less to take-off one of our teachers.
If not called upon I volunteered. None of my school chums got more enjoyment out of my “imitation of Miss Blank” than I did. I never dreamed at that time –or, if I did, they were vague dreams–that I was to become an actress. Since then I have come to the conclusion that I was actually taking my first steps toward what I chose as a career.
Natural talent, as I have called it, is no more than a tendency toward, or an aptitude for, some form of endeavor. In youth my first artistic lvoes were for mimicry and painting–the latter of which took the form of sculpturing–and both of these loves have been enduring.
For that reason unless my candidate for screen success previously shown some love for acting or mimicry I should come to the conclusion that he or she was intoxicated merely with the glamour of the profession, with no especial love for the fundamental thing itself.Read More »