3/27/1899 to 4/4/1983
Gloria Swanson was born Gloria May Josephine Svensson in Chicago, Illinois. She was destined to be perhaps one of the biggest stars of the silent movie era. Her personality and antics in private definitely made her a favourite with Americas movie going public. Gloria certainly didn't intend on going into show business. After her formal education in the Chicago school system and elsewhere, she began work in a department store as a salesclerk.
In 1915, at the age of 18, she decided to go to a Chicago movie studio with an aunt to see how motion pictures were made. She was plucked out of the crowd, because of her beauty, to be included as a bit player in the film The Fable of Elvira and Farina and the Meal Ticket (1915).
Her next film was also a bit part, when she appeared in At the End of a Perfect Day (1915). After another uncredited role, Gloria got a more substantial role in Sweedie Goes to College (1915). In 1916, she first appeared with future husband Wallace Beery. Once married, the two pulled up stakes in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to the film colony of Hollywood.
Gloria continued her rapid pace in films, appearing in many hit films such as The Pullman Bride (1917) and Shifting Sands (1918).
By the time she made, Don't Change Your Husband (1919), Gloria had divorced Beery and was remarried, but it was not to be her last marriage, as she collected a total of seven husbands. By the middle 1920s, she was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. It has been said that Gloria made and spent over $8 million in the '20s alone. That, along with the seven marriages she had, kept the fans spellbound with her escapades for over 60 years. Gloria was 30 when the sound revolution hit, and there was speculation as to whether she could adapt, but she did. In 1928, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role of Sadie Thompson in the film of the same name).
The following year, she again was nominated for the same award in The Trespasser (1929). By the 1930s, Gloria pared back her work with only four films during that time. She had taken a break from film work after 1934's Music in the Air (1934) and would not be seen again until Father Takes a Wife (1941). That was to be it until 1950, when she starred in Sunset Boulevard (1950) as Norma Desmond opposite William Holden. She played a movie actress who was all but washed up. The movie was a box office smash and earned her a third Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. The film is considered one of the best in the history of film and, on June 16, 1998, was named one of the top 100 films of all time by the American Film Institute, placing 12th.
After a few more films in the 1950s, Gloria more or less retired. Throughout the 1960s, she appeared mostly on television. Her last fling with the silver screen was Airport 1975 (1974), wherein she played herself. It has been reported that Gloria hated acting in slapstick comedy, which was pretty much all of her early career. Gloria died on April 4, 1983, in New York City at the age of 86. Despite earning millions during her career, she was known for her extravagant lifestyle and by the time of her death, her gross estate was valued at just over $1,440,000.