BARBARA FRIETCHIE 1915 Anna Q Nilsson HERBERT BLACHE
Anna Q. Nilsson
Born Anna Quirentia Nilsson
March 30, 1888(1888-03-30)
Died February 11, 1974 (aged 85)
Years active 1911 - 1954
Spouse(s) Guy Coombs (1916-1916)
J. Marshall Gunnerson (1923-1925)
Anna Quirentia Nilsson (March 30, 1888 – February 11, 1974) was a Swedish born actress who achieved success in American silent movies.
Early life and career
was born in Ystad,Anna Q. Nilsson southern Sweden in 1888. Her middle name, "Quirentia," is derived from Saint Quirinius' Day, March 30, her date of birth. At the age of 8 her father got a job at the local sugar factory in Hasslarp, a small community outside Helsingborg in Sweden where she spent most of her school years. She did very well in school, graduating with highest remarks. Due to her good grades she was hired as sales clerk in Halmstad on the Swedish west coast, unusual for a young woman from a workers family at the time. But she had set her mind on going to America. In 1905, she emigrated to the USA through Ellis Island. In the new country, the Swedish teenager started working as a nursemaid and learned English quickly. Soon she started working as a model. Already in 1907, she was named "Most beautiful woman in America". Nilsson's modeling led her to getting a role in the 1911 film Molly Pitcher.
She stayed at the Kalem studio for several years, ranked behind their top star Alice Joyce. In the twenties she freelanced successfully for Paramount, First National and many other studios and reached a peak of popularity just before the advent of talkies, despite a serious horse-riding accident which kept her from filming for almost two years. In 1923, she portrayed "Cherry Malotte" in the second movie based upon Rex Beach's The Spoilers, a role that would be played in later versions by Betty Compson (1930), Marlene Dietrich (1942), and Anne Baxter (1955).
With the introduction of sound films, Nilsson's career went into a sharp decline, although she continued to play small, often uncredited parts in films into the 1950s. Her best known performance in a sound film is arguably her turn as "herself", referred to as one of the "waxworks" in Swanson's Sunset Boulevard (1950), where she has one small line.
Nilsson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to motion pictures at 6150 Hollywood Boulevard. She died in Hemet, California on February 11th, 1974, of heart failure.
Anna Quirentia Nilsson naît le 30 mars 1888 à Ystad, en Suède.
Sa famille émigre aux Etats-Unis en 1910 après quelques apparitions dans des films suédois. Sa famille la modèle afin qu'elle puisse devenir mannequin, métier alors en pleine expension.
En 1911, elle apparaît dans son 1er court-métrage : "Molly Pitcher". Sa carrière se poursuit mais c'est dans les années 20 qu'elle atteint son apogée. Elle devint une des actrices fétiches de Samuel Goldwyn et de la Paramount. Mais en 1925, elle se blesse lors d'un tournage : elle est éjectée par son cheval contre un mur de pierre. Elle se retrouve paralysée. Pendant un an, elle se soignera en Europe avec des séances de kinésithérapie afin de pouvoir recommencer à marcher.
Lors de l'arrivée des films parlants, elle commence à se retirer des studios. Son accent suédois ne plaît pas au public. Elle se consacre aux oeuvres de charité tout au long de sa vie.
On se souvient d'elle lors du tournage du film "Boulevard Du Crepuscule" en 1953. La vedette Gloria Swanson lui avait demandée personnellement d'apparaître avec Buster Keaton et H.B. Warner lors de la scène de la partie de bridge. Elle reçut un cachet de 250 dollars pour son apparition éclair.
Son nom est apparut sur le Walk Of Fame pour être devenu la 1ère actrice suédoise de l'histoire du cinéma. Elle aura tournée dans 197 films entre 1911 et 1954 mais l'arrivée du parlant la fait disparaître du générique.
Elle incarna la 1ère Greta Garbo au cinéma.
Au cours de sa vie, elle s'est mariée à 2 reprises et n'eut aucun enfant :
- Guy Coombs (1882-1947) lors de l'année 1916
- J. Marshall Gunnerson de 1923 à 1925
Anna est décédée le 11 février 1974 à Hemet, en Californie.
Anna Q Nilsson is one of the very first Hollywood imports, and the first Swedish actress to become a bonafide movie starlet. And another interesting first: Anna goes down in history as the first Swede to become immortalized by way of a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. So why doesn’t her name roll off our tongues today? I suppose we’ve done enough silent film star bios by now to realize the sad fate of Anna and her many peers: to be relegated to the status of interesting if obscure historical figure, since so few prints survive of films from the silent days, and silent films are vastly under-appreciated today (even though their aesthetic has influenced everything from Guy Maddin’s films, TV commercials and video games).
Anna was born Anna Quirentia Nilsson on March 30, 1888 in Ystad, Skåne Iän, Sweden – incidently, the same day as Saint Quirinius’ day, which is where the “Q” in her name comes from. She must have had a rough time of it as a child, because it seems she was always dreaming of better days. The United States, early on, appealed to her as a land of plenty, where she could have the wealth and luxuries that her modest life in Sweden wouldn’t be able to provide.
She was also a natural-born performer who did some stage acting in her native country before she realized she would have to move to America if she wanted to make a real go of a career on the stage. She was still barely a teenager when she made the voyage to the U.S. in 1910, and she didn’t speak a word of English – it’s interesting to think that so many immigrants learn a new language today by watching TV and movies in that language – this option wasn’t available to Anna at the turn of the century. But she was a quick study, and after landing her first job as a nursemaid, she picked up English and by doing so, rose the ranks with impressive speed.
One can’t help if her gorgeous looks had anything to do with it as well. Everyone already has a picture in his or her head of the Nordic goddess – this pretty much characterizes Anna. She moved on from children’s nursemaid to model, by and large doing commercial work, though she also posed for many illustrators and painters. It seems like she was rapidly becoming the latest version of the “Ideal Woman”, and she took full advantage of this.
1920's Anna Q. Nilsson Ghiradelli's Chocolate Card1917 Anna Q. Nilsson Kromo Gravure Trading CardIt was probably inevitable that eventually, one of her photographers would tell her she belonged in the pictures; movies, after all, were just gaining momentum and the forward-thinking Anna took him up on this suggestion. Luckily, this photographer was a man known about town, and he connected her to a short, one reel film, Molly Pitcher (1911). (Another version of the story has it that it was her illustration that made her the original “Penrhyn Stanlaws Girl” that led to her landing the gig on the Kalem film).
Of course, it being the silent era, Anna’s accent was not an issue, and the hardworking Anna continued to make film after film for years after her debut. Unfortunately and strangely, as we’ll see, it wasn’t the coming of sound that would prove to be her biggest setback. Before this happened though, Anna was rapidly becoming one of the silent screen’s trademark stars. She wasn’t bound to any contract – at least for any substantial period of time – and worked relentlessly for Metro, Goldwyn, Paramount, First National and Warner; in other words, all the emerging biggies.
Anna made no less than 84 films between 1911 and the early part of 1917. Some of her titles from the early years include The Battle of Pottsburg Bridge, The Colonel’s Escape, The Drummer Girl of Vicksburg, Under a Flag of Truce (all 1912); A Desperate Chance, Shiprecked, Shenandoah, The Gypsy’s Brand (all 1913); A Shot in the Dark, The Man in the Vault (both 1914); The Second Commandment, A Sister’s Burden, The Haunted House (all 1915); Sowing the Wind and Puppets of Fate (both 1916); and The Moral Code and The Silent Master (both 1917).
And the film roles kept coming. She made a staggering number of them, and though most if not all the early ones have not survived until today, several of them are cited as noteworthy moments in her career: Seven Keys to Baldpate (1917), Soldiers of Fortune (1919), The Toll Gate and The Luck of the Irish (1920), and The Lotus Eater (1921).
And then it happened. In 1923, Anna made 11 films. In 1924, she made 12. In 1925, after making only 6, she was thrown off a horse; she landed on a stone and severely injured her spine. She was paralyzed for the better part of a year while she worked doggedly with physical therapists to get her health back. In an ironic twist, the girl who moved to America to pursue her dreams in show business ended up right back where she started, the land of the mountains, serenity – and now, spas. After spending some time in Sweden and Vienna, she got the use of her legs back, 1920's Anna Q. Nilsson 5x7 Fan Photoand instantly moved back to the U.S. to get her career back on track.
1920's Anna Q. Nilsson Card Unknown IssueAs we know, the film industry can be a fickle one, and it wasn’t easy for Anna to come back to the tremendous level of fame she enjoyed before her accident. She managed to make 13 films before the coming of sound, among them the aptly titled Her Second Chance (1926); the acclaimed (and also aptly titled) Babe Comes Home (1927), in which she starred opposite none other than Babe Ruth; and her last of the silent era, Blockade (1928).
Anna was smart enough to realize that the heralding of the sound age would be a career-killer for her, and she opted to remove herself from moviemaking for awhile. She focused on her personal life – she got married and divorced twice, never having children – and on doing charity work before plunging back in, doing mostly bit parts, uncredited roles and cameos until the end of her career, sometimes for amazingly successful films, like George Cukor’s Adam’s Rib (starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, 1949) and Vincente Minelli’s Gene Kelly vehicle, An American in Paris (1951).
Her most notable appearance from this era was as an idolized version of herself: a number of silent film stars including Buster Keaton appeared as “wax works” in the classic 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, starring Gloria Swanson. Though it must have been difficult to be considered a relic as opposed to a hardworking, fan-generating star, one nostalgically appreciates how much these silent stars were venerated in Hollywood’s golden age of sound, based on the number of them who worked for decades after their star had stopped shining so brightly. Anna was one of these former stars, who helped inaugurate the star system that had audiences flocking to the theatres and making the cinema the seventh art it is today. She died, after retiring in 1954 after appearing in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, of heart failure on Feburary 11, 1974 in California
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