“A woman in the wardrobe department asked rather casually as if to make conversation, whether I could dance and I told her I could and loved to. She explained that James Ryan, a casting director, was looking for a certain type of girl and had made screen tests of more than 100, without finding the one he wanted. She suggested that I call on Ryan, which I did, and he told me to see Lambert Hillyer, the director, and tell him I had been sent.
“Hillyer looked at me and asked if I thought I could play the lead in a picture. I told him sure, I could. He gave me a screen test and had a man make me up – the first experience of the kind I ever had. The test was to be made at 1 p.m. and word passed around the studio that a girl who had never even seen a motion picture camera was to be tried out for a leading part. As a result, a great crowd gathered to see me make a fool of myself.
“I wasn’t afraid. Scores of people watched me as I attempted to register love, hate, fear and a lot of other things. At 2 p.m. Mr. Hillyer informed me I could have the role!
“I would have played the part for nothing, but they paid me $75 a week.” — Dorothy Janis, discussing how she went from an extra and bit player to her first starring role in Fleetwing (1928).
Source: Harry T. Brundidge (1929)
Photo: Ruth Harriet Louise (1929)
Fleetwing (1928). Stars Barry Norton
“I had tried very hard to lose my Texas accent, but I thought my lack of stage experience would hinder further progress in films. I really had my doubts about a career in talkies.” – Dorothy Janis
Source: Broken Silence: Conversations with 23 Silent Film Stars by Michael G. Ankerich
Photo: Ruth Harriet Louise
“You know, I don’t like makeup men. They all have a crazy habit of wanting to experiment with my face. On one of the first pictures I made the make-up man was drunk all the time, and he used to fix up my face like a sunset. He put the men’s mustaches on upside down, too. Now, I make the experts stay away and fix my own face. I can do better than they can.” – Dorothy Janis, around the time she was dropped by M-G-M.
The studio had tried to promote her as being half Cherokee. Truth be told, the pint-size Texan’s Indian heritage was a little on the anemic side.
Source: Madeline Glass (1930)
Photographer: Ruth Harriet Louise (1929)