Projected as wholesome but fun-loving, Maine-born leading lady Esther Ralston enjoyed a prime silent age career and, at her peak, was packaged and publicized as “The American Venus” by none other than that of showman Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. after appearing as a dazzling beauty queen in the film of the same name (The American Venus (1926)). A decade later, the blonde beauty’s career, however, had tapered off.
Christened Esther Worth in 1902, Ms. Ralston endured a “born in a trunk” existence as the child of parents who graced the burlesque, carnival and vaudeville circuits. By the time she was 2, she had become a part of the family act (which included four brothers) with the billing now extended to “The Ralston Family with Baby Esther, America’s Youngest Juliet.”
Esther broke into silent films as a teen and, after several unbilled roles, went on to become one of filmdom’s highest-paid silent stars in scores of dramas, comedies and westerns (the last mentioned notably opposite… read more