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Betty Blythe



Before she became known as a silent film star unafraid to display her torso to the millions, Elizabeth Blythe Slaughter, known as Betty Blythe, was the "California Nightingale," a vaudeville songstress found in the middle of the bill. Dressed in a "pretty peacock dress" she warbled "Love Tales from Hoffman." 1915 found her in Los Angeles working as a swimsuit model. In 1916-17 she began touring as an actress in "Experience." Vitagraph liked what they saw, signed her to a performer's contract, and instantly she began appearing in feature films such as 1918's "For His Own People."

Her career in films culminated in a trio of performances in which she took a minimalist approach to wardrobe, "The Queen of Sheba," "She," and "Chou Chin Chow." Articulate as well as comely, she survived the transition to sound films, albeit in minor roles. Because the older directors habitually slotted her as an extra in features films of the 1940s and 1950s, she retired from the screen with 119 films to her credit.

Her later characterizations of her early stage career were rife with fantasy, so cannot be trusted. David S. Shields/ALS