Gloria Josephine May Swanson (March 27, 1899 – April 4, 1983) was an American actress, producer and business woman. She first achieved fame acting in dozens of silent films in the 1920s and was nominated three times for an Academy Award as Best Actress, most famously for her 1950 comeback in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, which also earned her a Golden Globe Award. Swanson was born in Chicago and raised in a military family that moved from base to base. Her schoolgirl crush on Essanay Studios actor Francis X. Bushman led to her aunt taking her to tour the actor's Chicago studio. The 15-year-old Swanson was offered a brief walk-on for one film as an extra, beginning her life's career in front of the cameras. Swanson was soon hired to work in California for Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios comedy shorts opposite Bobby Vernon. She was eventually recruited by Famous Players-Lasky/Paramount Pictures, where she was put under contract for seven years.In 1925, Swanson joined United Artists as one of the film industry's pioneering women filmmakers. She produced and starred in the 1928 film Sadie Thompson, earning her a nomination for Best Actress at the first annual Academy Awards. Her sound film debut performance in the 1929 The Trespasser, earned her a second Academy Award nomination. After almost two decades in front of the cameras, her film success waned during the 1930s. Swanson received renewed praise for her comeback role in Sunset Boulevard (1950). She only made three more films, but guest starred on several television shows, and acted in road productions of stage plays.
Swanson was a vegetarian and an early health food advocate who was known for bringing her own meals to public functions in a tin box. In 1975, Swanson traveled the United States and helped to promote the book Sugar Blues written by her husband, William Dufty. He also ghostwrote Swanson's 1981 autobiography Swanson on Swanson, which became a commercial success. The same year, she designed a stamp cachet for the United Nations Decade for Women, which was her last creative project.She was a pupil of the yoga guru Indra Devi and was photographed performing a series of yoga poses, reportedly looking much younger than her age, for Devi to use in her book Forever Young, Forever Healthy; but the publisher Prentice-Hall decided to use the photographs for Swanson's book, not Devi's. In return, Swanson, who normally never did publicity events, helped to launch Devi's book at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1953.As a Republican she supported the 1940 and 1944 campaigns for president of Wendell Willkie and the 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. In 1980, she chaired the New York chapter of Seniors for Reagan-Bush.In 1964, Swanson spoke at a "Project Prayer" rally attended by 2,500 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The gathering, which was hosted by Anthony Eisley, a star of ABC's Hawaiian Eye series, sought to flood the United States Congress with letters in support of mandatory school prayer, following two decisions in 1962 and 1963 of the United States Supreme Court, which struck down mandatory prayer as conflicting with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Joining Swanson and Eisley at the Project Prayer rally were Walter Brennan, Lloyd Nolan, Rhonda Fleming, Pat Boone, and Dale Evans. Swanson declared "Under God we became the freest, strongest, wealthiest nation on earth, should we change that?"
Swanson was born in a small house in Chicago in 1899, the only child of Adelaide (née Klanowski) and Joseph Theodore Swanson (né Svensson), a soldier. She was raised in the Lutheran faith. Her father was a Swedish American and her mother was of German, French, and Polish ancestry. Because of her father's attachment to the U.S. Army, the family moved frequently. She spent some of her childhood in Key West, Florida, where she was enrolled in a Catholic convent school, and in Puerto Rico, where she saw her first motion pictures.
Movies & TV shows
Boulevard! A Hollywood Story
Two young songwriters and romantic partners, Dickson Hughes and Richard Stapley, are caught in the middle of a movie star's web when she hires them to write a musical version of "Sunset Boulevard."
Why Be Good?: Sexuality & Censorship in Early Cinema
Before the G, PG and R ratings system there was nothing. The rampant sexuality of early Hollywood is examined through movie clips and reminiscences by stars of the era. The Production Code, which gove...
Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon
Profile of Kenneth Anger, looking at the uproar his books on Hollywood scandals caused and journeying through the darker side of Hollywood's history, including film clips, and Anger playing a guide wi...
1 TV show
Hollywood is a 1980 documentary series produced by Thames Television which explored the establishment and development of the Hollywood studios and its impact on 1920s culture.
"Something hit us...the crew is dead...help us, please, please help us!" With these terrifying words, 22 of Hollywood's greatest stars find themselves aboard a pilotless jumbo jet headed on a collisio...
A strong- willed woman dominates her family of California winegrowers and has a strange hold on a colony of bees in her vineyard.
1 TV show
The Carol Burnett Show
The Carol Burnett Show is a television show. It ran from September 11, 1967, to March 29, 1978, on CBS. The series won 25 awards. 16 of TV Guide's 50 greatest TV shows of all time were listed as one o...
Hollywood My Home Town
Ken Murray narrates his home movies.
The Love Goddesses
This insightful documentary features some of the major and most beautiful actresses to grace the silver screen. It shows how the movie industry changed it's depiction of sex and actresses portrayal of...
1 TV show
The Hollywood Palace
The Hollywood Palace was a weekly variety show on ABC from January 4, 1964 to February 7, 1970 The Saturday Night Hollywood Palace began as a replacement for The Jerry Lewis Show, which only lasted th...
2 TV shows
Kraft Suspense Theatre
Kraft Suspense Theatre is an American anthology series that was telecast from 1963 to 1965 on NBC. Sponsored by Kraft Foods, it was seen three weeks out of every four and was pre-empted for Perry Como...
Burke's Law ran on ABC from 1963 to 1965, and was revived on CBS in the 1990s. Amos Burke, the millionaire captain of the Los Angeles police homicide division, was chauffeured around to solve crimes i...
3 TV shows
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
A continuation of the dramatic anthology series hosted by the master of suspense and mystery.
The Merv Griffin Show
The Merv Griffin Show is a talk show. The series ran from October 1, 1962 to March 29, 1963 on NBC and from August 18, 1969 to February 11, 1972 on CBS.
The Beverly Hillbillies
There is oil in the swamp. A wildcatter sells his land to the O.K. The family was moved to a mansion in Beverly Hills, California.
4 TV shows
The story of two young men who operate a garage and engage in auto racing was told in Straightaway. The race car designers were Clipper Hamilton and Scott Ross. Scott and Clipper work on vehicles. Asa...
Ben Casey is an American medical drama series which ran on ABC from 1961 to 1966. The show was known for its opening titles, which consisted of a hand drawing the symbols "♂, ♀, ✳, †, ∞" on a chalkboa...
The story of a young intern in a large metropolitan hospital trying to learn his profession, deal with the problems of his patients, and win the respect of the senior doctor in his specialty, internal...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Nero is on a holiday at the seaside. Many people are with him. Nero is going to be the center of attention. When his mother arrives with her German friends, she asks for trouble because she thinks Ner...
The Steve Allen Show
The Steve Allen Show is an American variety show hosted by Steve Allen from June 1956 to June 1960 on NBC, from September 1961 to December 1961 on ABC, and in first-run syndication from 1962 to 1964. ...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Three for Bedroom C
A famous film actress and her daughter discover their compartment on the train has been assigned to a handsome biology professor. Comedy.
This Is Your Life
This Is Your Life is an American television documentary series that aired on NBC from 1952 to 1961. In the show, the host surprises a guest and takes them through their life in front of an audience, w...
2 Movies · 1 TV show
A hack screenwriter is writing a script for a former silent film star who has faded into obscurity.
What's My Line?
Panelists must ask only "yes" or "no" questions in order to determine guests' occupations.
The Golden Twenties
Feature-length compilation of 1920s newsreel footage, with commentary about news, sports, lifestyles, and historical figures.
1 TV show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show was hosted by Ed Sullivan. TV Guide ranked The Ed Sullivan Show #15 on their list of the 50 greatest TV shows of all time.
The Film Parade
Pioneer filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton was intrigued by the idea of a film about the history of the movies as early as 1915. He finally released a 52-minute feature called The Film Parade that was shown...
Under the condition that they never disagreed, the young couple decided to marry. The agreement is put to the test when the husband finds himself attracted to a young woman.
Round About Hollywood
This short travelogue depicts snippets of locations in Hollywood, California, most of them as seen from the streets. Considerable time is taken showing the kinds of architecture of private homes. Ther...
The House That Shadows Built
The House That Shadows Built (1931) is a short feature film, roughly 55 minutes long, from Paramount Pictures, made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the studio's founding in 1912. The film was a p...
Tonight or Never
A young opera singer is stuck in her career because of her cold and passionless performances, until she finds love with a handsome admirer.
When a no-account from her past shows up, a young woman jeopardizes the relationship with the man she loves.
A stenographer who works for a lawyer falls in love with a wealthy young man. After the marraige is annulled, she gives birth to a child. Gossip that she is a "kept woman" starts when her former boss ...
A woman with a history of prostitution arrives on the South Pacific island of Pago Pago looking for honest work and falls for a sailor who is unperturbed by her past. However, Mr. Davidson, a missiona...
The Coast of Folly
Silent film drama...
A French washerwoman becomes a duchess and a friend of Napoleon.
Daydreaming waitress Jennie Hagen fantasizes about becoming a famous actress, while in reality she and her cook boyfriend, Orme Wilson, hope to one day own their own diner. Although Orme loves Jennie,...
A Society Scandal
Hector Colbert sues his wife Marjorie for a divorce after Peters, an admirer of Marjorie, deliberately compromises her. Colbert's lawyer, Daniel Farr, believing that Marjorie's behavior was wrong, get...
The comedy concerns the struggles of an ambitious department store sales clerk who is caught up in New York high society.
Her Love Story
When Princess Marie of the Balkan kingdom of Viatavia falls in love with the captain of the King's Guards, her father arranges her marriage to the king of a neighboring country. The duke ignores the m...
Wages of Virtue
A carnival strongman and his girlfriend are caught in a web of jealousy, deceit and murder after fleeing to Algeria to escape a murder charge.
The Humming Bird
A pickpocket (Swanson) falls in love with a newspaperman. When he is sent off to war and she disguises herself as a boy, joins a gang and sets out to save him.
Elinor "Swifty" Forbes and her younger sister Marjory are the carefree daughters of wealthy J. D. Forbes. Their mother shows no restraint over her daughters, so they live among the flapper set. Lester...
Bluebeard's 8th Wife
Bluebeard's 8th Wife
Zaza is the favorite at an open-air theater in a small French town. Bernard Dufresne stays away from the village because he is afraid he will fall for her. While Zaza is singing on a swing, her oppone...
My American Wife
A 1922 film.
Her Husband’s Trademark
James Berkeley (who wants to get rich) and Allan Franklin (determined to be a great engineer) are rivals for the hand of Lois Miller. Berkeley marries her, and 15 years later, though he has not realiz...
Her Gilded Cage
A romance about a dancer seeking love and fame from Paris cabarets to New York society.
The Impossible Mrs. Bellew
Lance Bellew ignores his wife, Betty, for his mistress, Naomi Templeton, but becomes enraged when he finds her in the company of a family friend.
A Trip to Paramountown
Dozens of stars are captured candidly and at work in a documentary short film about the filmmaking activity at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood.
Beyond the Rocks
A young woman gets married to an older millionaire and then falls in love with a handsome nobleman on her honeymoon.
The Great Moment
The Affairs of Anatol
Socialite Anatol Spencer, finding his relationship with his wife lackluster, goes in search of excitement. After bumping into old flame Emilie, he lets an apartment for her only to find that she cheat...
Don't Tell Everything
Two men in love with the same woman are further complicated by the arrival of a second woman.
Something to Think About
Markley supports the education of the blacksmith's daughter. He asked to marry her, but she ran off with a city worker who was killed in a subway accident. Markley wants to marry her to protect her so...
Why Change Your Wife?
Both Robert and Beth Bordon are married. The Gordons are soon divorced after he ran into Sally at a cabaret. He gets bored with Sally's superficiality and Beth tries to improve her looks. A couple fal...
Male and Female
Gloria Swanson plays a spoiled maiden who always gets her way until she is shipwrecked with her butler, and learns which qualities are really admirable in a person.
For Better, for Worse
Dr. Edward and Richard love Sylvia. Both enlisted in the military, but the other stays to care for the children. Sylvia married Burton because she thought he was a cowardice. After Burton is presumed ...
Don't Change Your Husband
James is always eating onions. She married a playboy after divorcing him.
A wayward wife abandons her husband but finds redemption by preventing a railway accident and finding her way back to him.
Society for Sale
Successful model, Phyllis Clyne, convinces a down-and-out nobleman, Billy, to pass her off in society as titled gentry. They fall in love and when it turns out that her late father actually was a lord...
Marcia Grey is wrongly convicted on trumped-up evidence of a German. After serving her term, she rebuilds her life and marries well.
The Pullman Bride
The Pullman Bride is a 1917 American silent comedy film directed by Clarence G. Badger and starring Gloria Swanson.
The Sultan's Wife
On a sailing trip, sweethearts Bobby and Gloria arrive in a very sinister-looking India, where an evil rajah attempts to force Gloria into his harem.
Teddy at the Throttle
Gloria Dawn lives with her sweetheart. Henry Black is in charge of Gloria's inheritance. The guardian and his sister are scheming to have the sister marry so that they can keep control of his money.
Jack Cooper, Hank Mann, and Bobby Dunn were in a 1916 short.
Love on Skates
Like many of Swanson's silent films, this one is lost and no one remembers much about it except that it involved many stunts and an ice skating sequence. Vernon and Swanson were a very popular team at...
Hearts and Sparks
When Mack Sennett first saw Gloria Swanson, he felt that she would be perfect as a romantic lead for Bobby Vernon because they were both small in stature. The film was a big hit with the public.
The Nick of Time Baby
Clarence G directed The Nick of Time Baby. Gloria Swanson is starring in Badger.
A Social Cub
A Social Cub is a 1916 short silent comedy film directed by Clarence G. Badger and starring Gloria Swanson
The Danger Girl
Gloria disguises herself as a man in order to get away from her boyfriend.
At the End of a Perfect Day
The story opens with an old couple in the evening of life, sitting by the fireside reminiscing the happenings of their younger days. How the young man had left his country home to seek work in the gre...
The Romance of an American Duchess
The Duke de Longtour, a European nobleman, with impoverished estates, comes to America and wins the hand of Stephana Martin, an American heiress, defeating Marquis Ferdinand, an adventurer and his riv...
The Misjudged Mr. Hartley
Mrs was in honor of his return from abroad. She invites her cousin, Brian Hartley, to dinner, but doesn't tell him she moved. He went to the old home where he was met at the door by a guest of the Hol...
The Ambition of the Baron
A young woman is used as a pawn in a game of political intrigue.
Sweedie Goes to College
Sweedie, the cook, reads an ad in the newspaper for a maid to give her services in exchange for college tuition. She applies and is accepted.
The Broken Pledge
Three young girls, pledged to spinsterhood and contempt for mankind, go camping in the woods. Three boys, unpledged to anything save fun and the joy of living, likewise go camping. Fate spins the whee...
His New Job
When one of the actors on a movie set doesn't show up, Charlie gets his chance to be on camera and replaces the actor. He gets on people's nerves while playing a dice game. He ruined his scene, accide...