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Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson

Gloria May Josephine Swanson (March 27, 1899 – April 4, 1983) was an American actress and producer. She starred in dozens of silent films and was nominated three times for an Academy Award as Best Actress. She was born in Chicago and raised in a military family that moved from base to base. Her school girl crush on Essanay Studios actor Francis X. Bushman led to her aunt taking her to tour the actor's studio when they were living in Chicago. The then 15-year-old Swanson was offered a brief walk-on for one film as an extra. As a result of the walk-on, she was offered $13.25 a week as a recurring film extra, so she quit school to begin what would become 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 producers. She hired Raoul Walsh in 1927 to direct Sadie Thompson about the travails of a prostitute living in American Samoa. Her performance in the lead role earned Swanson a nomination for Best Actress at the first annual Academy Awards. George Barnes was nominated for his cinematography of the film. In 1929, Swanson made her debut sound film with her performance in The Trespasser, which earned her a second Academy Award nomination. Personal problems and changing tastes saw her popularity wane during the 1930s and she ventured into theatre and television. After not having acted in a film for nine years, she was hailed for her comeback role in the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe Award and a nomination for an Academy Award. In 1995, the film was chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." She only made 3 more films after Sunset Boulevard, but guest starred on several television shows, and acted in road productions of stage plays. She was married six times and was the mother of three children. Among the men she had extra-marital affairs with were businessman (and later U. S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom) Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and actor Herbert Marshall. In his divorce filing, her second husband Herbert K. Somborn accused her of having affairs with 13 men. Swanson was a vegetarian and health food advocate, whose sixth husband William Dufty was also a health advocate, as well as being the ghost writer of her autobiography Swanson on Swanson. In 1980, Swanson sold the bulk of her archives to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
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