Shop by the Stars aisle featuring Mary Philbin (1902-1993) vintage movie cards, still photos, ephemera, and other collectibles.
A star recalled more for beauty than talent, Philbin will be forever remembered for tearing the mask from Lon Chaney's face to reveal his tortured visage in The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Born in Chicago, she was runner-up in a contest sponsored by the Elks in that city's Herald-Examiner (Gertrude Olmsted won), but the Laemmles and Universal director Erich von Stroheim liked what they saw and Philbin was soon bound for California, where she appeared in just under 30 features, most for Universal, between 1921-29. She debuted in The Blazing Trail (1921), a Western-set melodrama starring Frank Mayo, then starred in Danger Ahead! (1921), and worked in a couple of Hoot Gibson westerns before appearing in a bit role in von Stroheim's Foolish Wives (1922). She was among the first thirteen WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1922, a group that also included Colleen Moore, Bessie Love, and fellow Chaney co-star Patsy Ruth Miller. Philbin's billing was beginning to slip until von Stroheim put her opposite Norman Kerry in Merry-Go-Round (1923). The following year she starred in Fools Highway (1924), The Gaiety Girl (1924), and The Rose of Paris (1924), all leading up to her most famous part, as Christine, opposite Chaney in Phantom. The press dubbed her a female Chaney for taking on multiple roles in Stella Maris (1925), a remake of the superior 1918 release starring Mary Pickford. Philbin was cast opposite Ivan Mosjukine in Surrender (1927), the great Russian actor's only Hollywood film, and then with Lionel Barrymore in D.W. Griffith's Drums of Love (1928). Much better was Paul Leni's classic The Man Who Laughs (1928) opposite Conrad Veidt, an actor she'd work with again in Pál Fejös' The Last Performance (1929). Philbin's career wrapped up with talkies The Shannons of Broadway (1929) and her final film After the Fog (1929). Philbin retired to look after her parents and lived at the same address until the time of her death, over sixty years later at age 90.
Birthday: July 16