Pola Negri had one of the biggest careers of the silent era. Her fame allowed her to transfer into the sound era, and cross the Atlantic many times to make films in Europe as well as the States.
Negri is at least historically important. If you don’t know much about her, you probably should. She really was a big deal in Hollywood at one time. And, she was definitely Polish — born Barbara Apolonia Chalupiec in 1897 in Lipno, Poland.
She made movies in Germany before World War I and at the behest of Paramount Pictures, first arrived in Hollywood in September 12, 1922 — as an established star accompanied by cheering fans and an attentive press pack.
In all Negri appeared in some 65 movies mostly European made but a fair share made in Hollywood. Her career spanned the silent period (eg. 1924’s Men and Forbidden Paradise) into the introduction of talkies. (In 1932’s A Woman Commands from RKO with Basil Rathbone, Negri not only talks but sings.)
Her life itself would have made an interesting biopic. She died at age 90 in financially tight circumstances in 1987, in San Antonio, Texas. Not only was she a strong actress but she had a measure of genuine importance in Hollywood history.
Some tidbits about Pola Negri:
— She was the first big European film actress to be wooed and imported by Hollywood. She arrived there three years before Greta Garbo hit town.
— Negri was referred to as the “Black Lotus Flower” and “Tiger Woman.” In other words, she got your attention when she acted onscreen.
— She definitely did not possess a flair for comedy high or low. She took herself and her dramatics verrry seriously.
— Rudolph Valentino supposedly wanted to marry Negri. The public suspected that the extent of their relationship may have been overblown, however.