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Constance Talmadge was an American silent movie actress, from Brooklyn, New York.
Constance Talmadge was born on April 19, 1900 in Brooklyn. Daughter of Frederick and Margaret Talmadge. Her father was an alcoholic, and left them when she was still very young. Her mother made a living by doing laundry. When a friend recommended that Constance's mother use older sister Norma as a model for title slides in flickers, which were shown in early nickelodeons, Peg decided to do so. This led all three sisters into an acting career.
Constance Talmadge was educated at Erasmus Hall, Brooklyn.
Constance Talmadge had three great advantages. She had her mother. Peg, the most implacable of the famous Hollywood mothers, known through out the industry as Ma Talmadge. (Having steered Constance and Norma into stardom, she failed to do the same for her third daughter, Natalie, and married her off to poor Buster Keaton.) From Ma, Connie went on to a kind of Pa her sister Normas much older mogul husband, Joseph M. Sehenck, who took over her affairs in 1917 and steered her through more than a decade of almost uninterrupted success. Finally, she had a hoydenish charm, a happy nature, and a piquant Irish prettiness. Everybody loved this madcap girl, most famously Irving Thalberg, who pursued her to no avail before settling for the more placid Norma Shearer. It was just as well: given his fragile health, Connie's wild streak might have speeded up his already premature death.
Big sister Norma was the tragedienne, all glamour and suffering. Connie known to her pals as Dutch as the comedienne. (They were like a rerun of the Gishes.) She shot to national attention as the Mountain Girl in Griffiths Intolerance, where her tomboy high spirits and good humor provided what lightness there is to that monumental epic. Soon she was starring in vehicles handmade for her, almost all of them sophisticated romantic comedies in which she dresses up in glorious gowns, furs, and the odd tiara, and gets her man. In every one of her films that I’ve been able to see she’s utterly appealing. Typical Constance Talmadge titles: Wedding Bells; The Primitive Lover; Her Night of Romance; The Goldfish; Her Sister from Paris; The Duchess of Buffalo; Venus of Venice; Breakfast at Sunrise. Among her leading men: Conway Tearle, Ronald Colman, and Antonio Moreno, twice each. But leading men weren’t the point: a film with Constance Talmadge was a Constance Talmadge film.
Her great pal Anita Loos and Loos’s husband, John Emerson, wrote half a dozen of her films. Evervthing about them was super-deluxe, even when the heroine pretended to be slumming, but Dutch herself was sensible, down-to-earth, and fun. She walked away from movies w'hen sound came in and never looked back. In a telegram to Norma, who was making a stab at the talkies, she wrote, “Quit pressing your luck, baby. The critics can't knock those trust funds Mama set up for us.”