Gloria Swanson - Rotten Tomatoes

Gloria Swanson

Highest Rated:   100% Queen Kelly (1929)
Lowest Rated:   29% Airport 1975 (1974)
Birthplace:   Not Available
Gloria Swanson may not have been the world's best actress, but she was certainly one of the screen's greatest personalities. The daughter of a peripatetic army officer, she was educated in public schools from Chicago to Puerto Rico. While visiting Chicago's Essanay studios in 1913, the 15-year-old Swanson was hired as an extra and it was in this capacity that she met her first husband, Wallace Beery, then starred in the studio's Sweedie comedies. Not long after making a brief appearance in Charlie Chaplin's first Essanay starrer His New Job (1915), she accompanied her husband to Hollywood, where he'd been signed by Mack Sennett's Keystone studios. Often teamed with diminutive leading man Bobby Vernon, Swanson earned a measure of fame as the deadpan heroine of such comedies as Teddy at the Throttle (1916) and The Pullman Bride (1916) (she later claimed that she had no sense of humor at the time and thus played her roles seriously, which made them all the funnier to the audience). Divorced from Beery in 1917, Swanson also left Keystone that same year to accept an offer to appear in dramatic roles for Triangle Pictures. She then went to work for Cecil B. DeMille, who admired her courage and tenacity and cast her as the glamorously (and provocatively) garbed heroines of such lavish productions as Don't Change Your Husband (1918), Male and Female (1919), and The Affairs of Anatol (1920). A full-fledged superstar by the early '20s, Swanson carefully controlled every aspect of her career, from choosing her leading men and directors to approving her publicity layouts. She also remained in the public eye via her succession of high-profile husbands, including the Marquis de la Falaise de Coudray. Though at her best in tear-stained romantic dramas, she could still deliver a top-notch comedy performance, as witness her portrayal of a dowdy, gum-chewing working girl in Allan Dwan's Manhandled (1924). In the late '20s she set up her own production company with the sponsorship of her then-lover, financier Joseph P. Kennedy. After a successful start with 1928's Miss Sadie Thompson, Swanson's company went bankrupt as a result of her benighted association with the Erich Von Stroheim-directed fiasco Queen Kelly (1929). Contrary to popular belief, she made a successful transition to sound, displaying her fine singing voice in films like Tonight or Never (1931) and Music in the Air (1934). But the public had adopted new favorites and no longer flocked to Swanson's films as they once had. She retired in the mid-'30s, briefly returning in 1941 to star with Adolphe Menjou in the undistinguished comedy Father Takes a Wife. Her next film appearance in 1949 turned out to be one of the finest achievements in anybody's career: Her Oscar-nominated virtuoso performance as faded, self-delusional silent screen star Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's vitriolic Hollywood melodrama Sunset Boulevard. So convincing was Swanson in this role that many of her fans believed that she was Norma Desmond, though nothing could have been further from the truth. Unfortunately, her attempts to follow up this triumph proved unsuccessful, prompting her to turn her back on filmmaking for the third time in her career. She did rather better on television in the 1950s, emceeing her own local New York TV talk show and hosting the syndicated anthology Crown Theatre Starring Gloria Swanson (1954). She also dabbled in scores of business enterprises, with mixed but generally satisfying results. Her most successful business venture was a line of organic cosmetics, "Essence of Nature;" she was also very active in the burgeoning health food movement of the 1960s, her ageless beauty and boundless energy serving as the best arguments in favor of proper nutrition. In the 1970s, she appeared on Broadway and on tour in Butterflies Are Free, and made her final screen appearance in Airport 74 (1974), more or less playing herself. Still active right up to her death, Gloria Swanson was survived by her

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet The Mack Sennett Collection: Volume One
  • Actor
No Score Yet Zaza
  • Actor
No Score Yet Why Be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema
  • Actor
No Score Yet Judy Garland's Hollywood
  • Actor
29% Airport 1975
  • Herself
No Score Yet Killer Bees
  • Madame Maria von Bohlen
No Score Yet The Age of Ballyhoo
  • Narrator
No Score Yet Mio figlio Nerone (Nero's Mistress)
  • Agrippina
No Score Yet When Comedy Was King
  • Actor
No Score Yet Three for Bedroom C
  • Ann Haven
98% Sunset Boulevard
  • Norma Desmond
No Score Yet Music in the Air
  • Frieda Hertefeld
No Score Yet Perfect Understanding
  • Judy Rogers
  • Producer
No Score Yet The House That Shadows Built
  • Actor
No Score Yet Tonight or Never
  • Nella Vago
No Score Yet Indiscreet
  • Geraldine 'Gerry' Trent
No Score Yet The Trespasser
  • Marion Donnell
100% Queen Kelly
  • Producer
  • Kitty Kelly
83% Sadie Thompson
  • Producer
  • Sadie Thompson
No Score Yet The Love of Sunya
  • Producer
  • Sunya
No Score Yet Fine Manners
  • Orchid Murphy
No Score Yet Manhandled
  • Tessie McGuire
100% Beyond the Rocks
  • Theodora Fitzgerald
No Score Yet The Affairs of Anatol
  • Vivian
No Score Yet Something to Think About
  • Ruth Anderson
No Score Yet Why Change Your Wife?
  • Beth Gordon
No Score Yet Don't Change Your Husband
  • Leila Porter
No Score Yet Male and Female
  • Mary Lasenby
No Score Yet Shifting Sands
  • Marcia Grey
No Score Yet Teddy at the Throttle
  • Actor
No Score Yet His New Job (Charlie's New Job)
  • Stenographer
80% A Fool There Was
  • The Sultan's Wife

Quotes from Gloria Swanson's Characters