2015 is the year of the Tragic Star at A Person in the Dark. January's Tragic Star is Olive Borden.
Beautiful Olive Borden had it all, but she ended up making beds, washing dishes and scrubbing floors at a mission for destitute women. How did this happen?
This striking beauty was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1906. Raised by her mother, Sibbie (her father had died when Olive was a baby), lovely Olive convinced her mama that she had the stuff to make it in Hollywood. Sibbie believed in her girl and Olive proved her right. By 1922 she was appearing as a bathing beauty in comedy shorts and by 1925 she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star. Signed by the Fox Studio, Olive quickly became one of the studio's highest paid stars and one if its most popular.
By all accounts, Olive loved being a star. She spent lavishly, loved to party and engaged in a 4-year affair with one of Hollywood's hunkiest stars, George O'Brien. She was renowned for her beauty, her form, her style and even her acting. Between 1925 and 1927 she appeared in a string of successful films for Fox.
|Beautiful in pearls and basic black
|Fig Leaves: Directed by Howard Hawks with fashions by Adrian
and one of Olive's biggest hits
Olive Borden models Adrian's fashions in "Fig Leaves"
|Olive and George O'Brien were one of Hollywood's most beautiful couples
The Joy Girl (1927)
In 1927 Fox starred Olive as "The Joy Girl," a successful comedy that gave Olive the same nickname. In 1927 Hollywood's Joy Girl was on top of the world.
|The film that gave Olive her short-lived nickname
|The Joy Girl looking lovely
And then, suddenly, it all went wrong. Apparently Fox, who had a lot of high-paid stars, began to experience financial difficulties. As a result, they attempted to reduce some of the highest salaries, including Olive's. Olive refused and walked out on her contract. From there, things went from bad to worse. O'Brien, tired of her hard partying ways, ended their relationship. Talking pictures and the lack of studio support put the nail in the coffin. Her last film was 1934's "Chloe, Love is Calling You," directed by fellow alcoholic and former great, Marshall Neilan. It was not a success. She was 28 years old.
Olive made a couple of bad marriages and attempted some vaudeville work, but nothing seemed to click. In 1941 she was broke and finished. She worked as a nurses aid and an army chauffeur and served as a WAC during the war.
After the war she tried to reestablish herself in Hollywood, but all doors were closed. During the last years of her life she found religion and joined Mama Sibbie at the Sunshine Mission, a refuge for homeless and poverty stricken women. In 1947 she fled the mission and was found by her mother in a motel. Olive was close to death. Sibbie brought her back to the mission, but Olive died soon after from complications arising from pneumonia and alcoholism.
Olive as she should be remembered
For much more about the lovely Olive Borden, please check out these informative sites:
OLIVE BORDEN: Silent Star - a completely comprehensive site about all things Olive - you will learn a lot here.
Looking for Mabel: A stunning site about Mable Normand and her world.
There is also a well-reviewed bio by Michelle Vogel called Olive Borden: The Life and Films of Hollywood's "Joy Girl" that I just bought with one click at Amazon!