Olive Borden: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s “Joy Girl”

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OLIVE BORDEN the book - Looking for Mabel Normand

From her last movie role in in Florida until her death in , Olive was a private person. She had not been a Hollywood luminary for over a decade and in Hollywood that is a life time. The book tells of a powerful beginning of great promise, a confusing middle full of turbulence and a sad joyless end. And of course, as one reads story after story, the understanding that the publicity department at the studio controlled how the general public saw Olive, extravagant, temperamental and volatile.


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She seems not to have a realization of the importance of controlling her own image. The book has over pictures in it! Her personal life was no better.

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Things got worse from there, a lot worse. The book has the details, or most of them anyway, probably everything that can be known about them.

Setting aside the Hollywood backdrop, this is a study of one human being who lost her way: It topped my expectations: Two or three reels of the only surviving print suffer from a manifestation of chemical decomposition, one oddly appropriate for such a strange film: The blacks have turned to white and the whites have turned to black. Fortunately, the last two-thirds of the film are fine, and they pack a punch. The Monkey Talks Even her talkies are hard to find, and a number of them are lost as well.

Olive Borden

I recommend this book. The author has plumbed depths of research that no one else has ever attempted, and I doubt that anyone will ever do better.

Olive Borden Models Adrian's Fashions In Fig Leaves

But the book is no puff piece, either. It serves its subject and the reader well, expertly excavating an unforgettable true story from the ruins of old Hollywood. Glamour, thy name is Olive. Author, Paul Green, kindly interviewed me recently. Below is the interview in full. Supporting roles continued, and she even gained notice in a couple of Tom Mix westerns, but it was when Fox picked her up in giving her the lead in "Yellow Fingers" and subsequently "3 Bad Men" that her career took off.


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  6. Fox handled her well making Olive Borden her real name, by the way one of the most popular stars of the second half of the 's and making astute use of her good looks - her gorgeous figure amply displayed in films such as "Fig Leaves. From newspaper, magazine accounts and other research, as well as the memories of Ralph Graves Jr. Fighting alcoholism for many years, she did serve as a WAAC for a short time during World War II, but eventually turned up at the Sunshine Mission in Los Angeles where she was a housekeeper, dishwasher and cleaner of bathroom floors.

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    Her mother was the superintendent at the mission and was by Olive's side when the alcoholism finally took its toll - and she passed away at age 41 in Vogel's narrative is engrossing, detailed, factual and written with an obvious affinity and admiration for her subject.

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