Olive Borden (July 14, 1906 – October 1, 1947) was an American film and stage actress who began her career during the silent film era. Nicknamed "The Joy Girl", Borden was known for her jet-black hair and overall beauty.
At the peak of her career in the mid-1920s, Borden was earning $1,500 a week. In 1927, she walked out on her contract with Fox after refusing to take a pay cut. By 1929, her career began to wane due to her reputation for being temperamental and her difficulty transitioning to sound films. She made her last film, Chloe, Love Is Calling You, in 1934 and moved on to stage work for a time. By the late 1930s, she had declared bankruptcy and stopped acting. During World War II, she joined the WACs. She was later honorably discharged after sustaining a foot injury and attempted to make a comeback in films. However, Borden's attempts to get back into acting were hindered by her alcoholism and health problems.
In 1945, she began working at the Sunshine Mission, a home for destitute women located in the skidrow section of Los Angeles. She died there in October 1947 of a stomach ailment and pneumonia at the age of 41.
Olive Borden was born in Richmond, Virginia on July 14, 1906. Her birth name was often reported erroneously as Sybil Tinkle until the 1990s when it was discovered that another woman with the same name had been confused with Borden. Borden's father died when she was a baby and she was raised by her mother, Sibbie, in Norfolk and Baltimore, Maryland where she also attended Catholic boarding schools. She was a distant relative of Lizzie Borden. As a teenager, she persuaded her mother to take her to Hollywood to pursue a career in show business. To support themselves they opened a candy store and Olive worked as a telephone operator.
Borden began her career as one of the Sennett Bathing Beauties in 1922 and was soon appearing as a vamp in Hal Roach comedy shorts. Producer Paul Bern chose her for an uncredited role in his film The Dressmaker from Paris (1925). She was signed by Fox after being named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1925 (along with cousin Natalie Joyce). Borden quickly became one of their most popular and highest paid stars earning a salary of $1,500 a week. She had starring roles in eleven films at Fox including 3 Bad Men and Fig Leaves, both costarring her then-boyfriend George O'Brien. During this time she worked with some directors who would go on to achieve major fame, including John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Leo McCarey.
When Fox cut her salary in 1927, she walked out on her contract. By this point she was a major star but she found it difficult to make the transition from silent films to "talkies". She worked to get rid of her Southern accent but could not overcome her reputation as being difficult. She was still in demand as an actress, and continued to work for Columbia and RKO. Borden cut her trademark hair into a short bob and turned herself into a modern flapper. She made several movies in the early 1930s but her career stalled. Her last screen credit came in 1934 in the film Chloe, Love Is Calling You. She moved to New York where she had a brief stage career and made a living on the vaudeville circuit.
Post acting years
During her acting career, Borden was one of the highest paid stars. She spent her money freely and by the late 1930s, she was broke. Borden then found work as a postal clerk and mail carrier and also worked as a nurse's aide.
In 1942, Borden joined the WAC where she has received an army citation for bravery in turning over an enemy ammunition truck. Her Army career ended after she was hospitalized in Walter Reed Medical Center with a severe foot injury. After her honorable discharge she attempted an unsuccessful comeback in films.
Borden struggled with alcoholism and numerous health problems. She spent her final years in the skid row section of Los Angeles scrubbing floors at the Sunshine Mission, a home for destitute women.
Borden had two marriages, one ending in divorce and the other in annulment. She also had several relationships with men in and out of the motion picture industry. Borden lived most of her life with her mother, Sibbie.
From 1926 until 1930 she had been romantically involved with actor George O'Brien and the press reported they were engaged. She also dated director Marshall Neilan, producer Paul Bern, and had a long affair with Arthur Benline, Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Construction Battalion.
Borden was married twice. Her first marriage was to stockbroker Theodore Spector whom she married on March 28, 1931. The marriage was rocky and the couple separated in early 1932. Borden learned after their separation that Spector was not divorced from his first wife, Pearl, whom he married in 1919. Spector was arrested for bigamy in 1932 after his first wife came forward and claimed they were still married. In November 1932, Borden petitioned the court for an annulment which was later granted. She married her second husband, railroad technician John Moeller, in November 1934. That marriage ended in divorce seven years later.
Olive Borden died on October 1, 1947 from a stomach ailment and pneumonia at the age of 41. The only possession she had when she died was a signed photo of herself. Borden's funeral was held on October 3 at the Sunshine Mission where she worked before her death. The Mission's founder, Essie Binkley West, officiated the service. Borden was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Her mother was interred in the grave next to her.
Borden has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Blvd, for her contribution to the motion picture industry. She was one of the first eight stars chosen to receive a star in 1958. Her name was drawn randomly from hundreds of nominees.
|1924||Neck and Neck|
|1924||Why Men Work|
|1924||Should Landlords Live?|
|1924||Too Many Mamas|
|1924||The Royal Razz|
|1924||Just a Good Guy|
|1925||Should Husbands be Watched?||The New Maid|
|1925||The Dressmaker from Paris||Lost film|
|1925||Bad Boy||Undetermined Role||Uncredited|
|1925||Tell It to a Policeman|
|1925||Good Morning, Nurse!||Lost film|
|1925||The Happy Warrior||Ima||Lost film|
|1925||The Overland Limited||Ruth Dent|
|1926||The Yankee Señor||Manuelita||Alternative title: The Conquering Blood|
|1926||My Own Pal||Alice Deering||Lost film|
|1926||3 Bad Men||Lee Carlton|
|1926||Fig Leaves||Eve Smith|
|1926||The Country Beyond||Valencia||Lost film|
|1927||The Monkey Talks||Olivette|
|1927||Secret Studio||Rosemary Merton||Lost film|
|1927||The Joy Girl||Jewel Courage|||
|1927||Come to My House||Joan Century||Lost film|
|1928||The Albany Night Boat||Georgie||Lost film|
|1928||Virgin Lips||Norma||Lost film|
|1928||Gang War||Flowers||Alternative title: All Square|
|1928||Stool Pigeon||Goldie||Alternative title: The Decoy|
|1928||Sinners in Love||Ann Hardy|
|1929||Love in the Desert||Zarah|
|1929||The Eternal Woman||Anita|
|1929||Half Marriage||Judy Paige|
|1929||Dance Hall||Gracie Nolan|
|1929||Wedding Rings||Eve Quinn||Alternative title: The Dark Swan|
|1930||Hello Sister||Vee Newell|
|1930||The Social Lion||Gloria Staunton|
|1932||The Divorce Racket||Marie Douglas|
|1933||Hotel Variety||Alternative title: The Passing Show|
|1933||Leave It to Me||Peavey||Alternative title: Help|
|1933||The Mild West||Baby Doll||Short film|
|1934||Chloe, Love Is Calling You||Chloe (Betty Ann Gordon)|
- Michelle Vogel (2010). Olive Borden: The Life and Films of Hollywood's "Joy Girl". McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-4795-8.
- "Olive Borden, Star Of Silent Films, 40". October 2, 1947. https://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9806E0D61731E13BBC4A53DFB667838C659EDE. Retrieved 2014-12-06.
- (Liebman 200, p. 323)
- "Sunshine Mission.' www.shelterpress.com. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
- (Lowe 2005, p. 76)
- (Shipman Springer 1974, p. 273)
- (Brettell 2005, p. 35)
- (Ankerich 2010, p. 74)
- (Ankerich 2010, pp. 72–73)
- (Klepper 1999, p. 358)
- "Simple Funeral for Olive Borden". The Milwaukee Sentinel. October 5, 1947. p. 15. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=50RQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PQ0EAAAAIBAJ&pg=3724,3734256&dq=olive+borden&hl=en. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
- "Funeral of Olive Borden". October 6, 1947. https://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9901E0D9133CE13BBC4E53DFB667838C659EDE. Retrieved 2014-12-06.
- "Hollywood Star Walk: Olive Borden". latimes.com. http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/olive-borden/. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- (Vogel 2010, pp. 162–179)
- "Projection Jottings". September 4, 1927. https://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A07E4DF1238E13ABC4C53DFBF66838C639EDE. Retrieved 2014-12-06. ""The Joy Girl," with Olive Borden, produced by Allan Dwan, is to occupy the Roxy screen this week. It is based on a story by May Edglnton. The exterior scenes ..."
- Ankerich, Michael G. (2010). Dangerous Curves Atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers, and Misfortunes of 14 Hard-Luck Girls of the Silent Screen. BearManor. ISBN 1-59393-605-2
- Brettell, Andrew; King, Noel; Kennedy, Damien; Imwold, Denise (2005). Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies. Leonard, Warren Hsu; von Rohr, Heather. Barrons Educational Series. ISBN 0-7641-5858-9.
- Klepper, Robert K. (1999). Silent Films, 1877-1996: A Critical Guide to 646 Movies. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0595-3
- Liebman, Roy (2000). The Wampas Baby Stars: A Biographical Dictionary, 1922-1934. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0756-5.
- Lowe, Denise (2005). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films, 1895-1930. Haworth Press. ISBN 0-7890-1843-8.
- Shipman Springer, John; Hamilton, Jack D. (1974). They Had Faces Then: Super Stars, Stars, and Starlets of the 1930s. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-0300-9.
- Vogel Michelle. (2010). Olive Borden: The Life and Films of Hollywood's Joy Girl. McFarland. ISBN 0-786-45836-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Category:Olive Borden.|
- Olive Borden at the Internet Movie Database
- Olive Borden at AllMovie
- Olive Borden Online
- Olive Borden at Silent Ladies & Gents
- Olive Borden at Find a Grave
- Olive Borden at Virtual History
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