“I’ve never had a dull moment in my life. I’ve always wanted to try something new. When I was a child, I wouldn’t wear what the other kids had. I won’t now. I had the first pantie girdle, the first broadtail suit, the first sack dress — from Givenchy. I was even the first Gloria. Everybody named their children after me. I can always tell how old Glorias are.” — Gloria Swanson
Photo: Russell Ball (1927)
Source: Angela Taylor (1965)
“I have decided that when I am a star, I will be every inch and every moment a star.” — Gloria Swanson
Photo: Male and Female (1919)
“The idea that beauty is the greatest requisite of a screen star is all wrong. It is secondary to ability. Personality comes before beauty. Just as speaking ability and acting ability and personality come first on the stage, so do the latter two rank first on the screen. Speaking ability, of course, does not count on the silver-sheet.” — Gloria Swanson
“One need only glance at a list of the girls who have won beauty contests in the last few years to see that appearance is not so important. Only one or two of the hundreds of winners have ever become well known on the screen. Most of them have failed ignominiously. Why? Because they lacked either personality or the ability to act. The lack of either is disastrous. On the other hand, everybody can name at least a dozen very popular actresses who are not really pretty at all. Some of them are even homely. Yet they are stars and are popular. And just because they possess screen charm. They can reach right off the screen and grasp the heart of the audience. That is why I say beauty is a secondary matter, if not third in importance, in so far as screen success goes.” — Gloria Swanson
“Forgive us, for we know not what we do! If youngsters shouldn’t see such things, let their mothers censor the plays they go to see. My particular pictures, in most cases, depended upon the extremity of my styles – Mr. DeMille used that as a basis for the ‘Why Change’ series, you know.” — Gloria Swanson
Why Change Your Wife? (1920). With Thomas Meighan.
“There may be some grounds for questioning whether clothes make the man, but I think everyone will admit that they do make the woman. I claim no credit for acting. Clothes make me act. I never rehearse in street clothes – it is for me a waste of time, because I feel no sympathy with the part unless I am dressed for the part. I do not mean that I must be ‘dressed up’ to feel the urge. But if I am to do a gypsy I must wear gypsy rags. Clothes are everything.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: Malcolm Oettinger
“When I go to the theater, I am pointed out as Gloria Swanson and stared at. Knowing that this will happen, I must prepare as best I can for the battery of eyes, a far more critical battery, I might say, than the cameras. If I were to affect simple things, people would be disappointed and perhaps steer clear of my pictures.” — Gloria Swanson
“I believe that gowns can be made a very great help in conveying emotions and moods on the stage. I find them of great assistance in playing my parts. I know that the public has come to expect eccentric, almost bizarre creations and I try to give my public what it wants in that regard, too.” — Gloria Swanson, during an interview at the Mission Inn in Riverside in 1921.
The Great Moment (1921). Only a fragment of the film is in existence.
“Well, I should like to do pictures that have lots of costuming and heart appeal besides, punch and patterns combined. I realize that clothes make me what I am and I dread, at the same time, becoming a mannequin sort of actress. So there you are. I want a happy medium.” — Gloria Swanson
“Away from the studio, I forget my screen self and try to be domestic. I can’t putter round the kitchen, but I adore my baby, and I loathe the thought of dragging her into the limelight of publicity. If she decides, some years from now, that she wants to be an actress, I won’t attempt to dissuade her, but I certainly will not put her before the camera as an infant, before she is able to decide for herself.” — Gloria Swanson
Her Gilded Cage (1922). A lost film.
Beyond the Rocks (1922)
“But I am not temperamental. I don’t lose my temper for no reason at all. There is nothing petty about my feeling for things or against them. I’ve always been accused of being temperamental, and I resent it. Temperament is simply a softer word for temper. Everyone loses his temper occasionally; let an actress do it once and she is branded as being temperamental.” — Gloria Swanson
“When I’m at home — I’m at home.” — Gloria Swanson
“At times, I confess I feel like a feminine Jekyll and Hyde, but it has worked out perfectly so far – this studio self a different person than the home self. No actress can continue to be an actress in her own home, and still be successful there as a mother. She must have two sides – and more.” — Gloria Swanson
Publicity portrait for Zaza (1923)
“I have no fight with the screen vampires other than they do not come anywhere near approximating life. If there is any doubt, drop into a divorce court and study the women who are ‘vamping’ in real life.” — Gloria Swanson
“For the time being, at least, I feel I should remain true to pictures. I would not want to attempt public appearances without preparing myself which requires considerable time. Pictures, unfortunately, leave little time for anything else.” — Gloria Swanson
Photo: Russell Ball
If you don’t recognize the Ambassador Hotel offhand, it is the French room redecorated to resemble a Parisian Cafe.
The occasion was a welcome home party thrown for Marion Davies after she returned from a three-month trip to Europe. The year is 1928.
Standing left to right, Lorraine Eddy, Matt Moore, Aileen Pringle, Louis B. Mayer, Gloria Swanson, Harry D’Arrast, Marion Davies, Louella Parsons, Ricardo Cortez, Charles Chaplin, Norma Shearer, Irving Thalberg, Harold Lloyd, and Robert Z. Leonard. Seated in the foreground are Harry Crocker, left, and William Haines.
“It was in the twenties. I had an upset stomach and when I went to the doctor he asked me to tell him everything I had eaten the night before. In those days you always had six-course dinners – with fish, meat, fancy sauces, hot breads, wine, rich desserts as well as cocktail sandwiches first. The doctor looked at me and said, ‘Do you think if you put all that on one plate you could get an animal – even a pig – to eat it? And you come to me wondering why you can’t digest it.’ and that’s how I began….I don’t recommend diet to everyone – but I do wish people would give some thought as to what use the body can make of the food they put in it.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: Lydia Lane (1951)
Photo: Charles Sheldon
“Every victory is also a defeat.” — Gloria Swanson
Photo: Ernest Bachrach (1929)
What a Widow! (1930)
“Mary Pickford and I were both five feet but she had a desire to be short and people were always surprised when I told them that we were the same height.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: Lydia Lane (1951)
“The only time I ever went hunting, I remembered it as a grisly experience.” – Gloria Swanson
“I’ve never paid fifty cents for publicity.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: John Kobal, People Will Talk (1986)
“Audiences make stars, either they like you or they don’t like you. And if you are liked equally by men and women, you have a longer life than if you are just going to be liked by men.” — Gloria Swanson (on the career longevity of female stars)
Source: John Kobal’s People Will Talk
“I’m like an old circus horse smelling sawdust.” — Gloria Swanson
Photo: Irving Chardoff (1933)
“I cannot stand inefficiency. My reputation for being ‘difficult’ stems only from the fact that I expect other people to do their jobs as well as I, myself, expect to do mine.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: Eve Starr (1961)
Photo: Otto Dyar (1934)
“Under great stress of need, there is an infinite source of supply that we manage to contact by the very urgency of our want and the strength of our belief that we will get it. Call it Universal Mind, Infinite Intelligence, or what you will, if our need is great and our belief in ourselves is strong enough, we seem for a moment to step beyond finite limitations. I don’t pretend to explain it. I only know that it is so. In the same way that I know some people who have passed on are closer to you after death than when they were here. It has been so with my father. I feel his nearness much more now than during his life.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: Maude Lathem (1934)
Photo: C.S. Bull (1934)
“Gloria Swanson was my ideal when I was a girl. I so much admired her turned-up nose that I spent hours pushing my own inconsequential nose up, trying to make it look cute like Gloria‘s. I thought her smile was so charming that I made myself look like a gargoyle going around showing my teeth as Gloria does. Then I found out that instead of making myself look like Gloria, I was completely spoiling what little beauty I did possess. I began to think of Carole Lombard instead of Gloria Swanson.” — Carole Lombard in 1934.
Source: J. Eugene Chrisman
Photo: On the set of Bolero (1934)
With George Raft and Carole Lombard on the set of Bolero (1934).
“I have always been natively curious. Believe it or not, but for years my favorite magazine was Popular Mechanics.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: Irving Wallace (1941)
Photographer: Ernest Bachrach (1941)
“Age is mental. It never occurs to me to think about it. It is a word that has no more meaning than you give it. Most people tie themselves down with the thought of their birthday. It never occurs to me to remember mine. I am interested in living, and I am never bored. I am just as enthusiastic about living as I ever was.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: Lydia Lane (1951)
“I think Hollywood deals too much with the problems of paraplegics, blind people and so forth. I don’t mean that such pictures shouldn’t be made; a few of them are helpful to promote understanding of those problems. But the accent has been too much on such messages and too little on entertainment.” — Gloria Swanson
Source: Bob Thomas (1951)
Photo: Sunset Blvd.
“I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life playing Norma Desmond over and over again.” — Gloria Swanson posing with her own wax likeness (as Norma Desmond) at the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park.
“Youngsters today have no manners. When they’re introduced to me they say, ‘May I call you by your first name?’ And I think: Does it make you feel that much better to call me Gloria when you don’t know me? Why don’t you just call me Toots? Then you’ll feel really great!” – Gloria Swanson
Artist: Richard Banks. 32″ x 74″ oil on canvas, painted on commission.
Gloria Swanson’s favorite: Butterless Devil’s Food Cake recipe.
1.5 cups of unsweetened chocolate
1 cup of milk
4 eggs, separated
About 1.5 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1.5 cups of sugar
Icing or jam
2 cake tins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees Celsius). Dissolve chocolate in the milk and let cool. Beat egg yolks with sugar then add to the chocolate mixture. Sift flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and add gradually to the mixture. Whip egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the chocolate mixture. Divide between two cake tins and bake at 350 degrees (175 degrees Celsius) for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then turn out onto cooling trays. When cake is cold, sandwich layers together with icing or jam.
Swanson‘s self portrait. Date: 1978. She gave it as a gift to guests who attended a charity dinner to raise money for the Astoria Motion Picture Studios in New York.