Lina Basquette
Actress, dancer, author, dog breeder
Lina Basquette
Lina Basquette was an American actress noted as much for her more than 75 years in entertainment beginning in the silent film era, as her tumultuous personal life and nine marriages.
Lina Basquette's personal information overview.
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Movie Guide and Film Series
NYTimes - almost 9 years
MOVIES Ratings and running times are in parentheses; foreign films have English subtitles. THE MONT ALTO MOTION PICTURE ORCHESTRA We are lucky enough in New York City to have a handful of highly talented pianists who are experts in the subtle, self-effacing art of providing accompaniment to silent films. But it's a particular pleasure to hear
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NYTimes article
NYTimes - over 9 years
TREASURES III Social Issues in American Film 1900-1934 American movies didn't wait for Angelina Jolie and Michael Moore to develop a social conscience. One of the sobering lessons of the new anthology from the National Film Preservation Foundation, ''Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film 1900-1934,'' is that the pictures of the early 20th
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NYTimes article
Lina Basquette, Silent-Film Star And Dog Breeder, Is Dead at 87
NYTimes - over 22 years
Lina Basquette, a star of the silent-film era who later became a professional dog breeder and handler, died on Friday at her home in Wheeling, W.Va. She was 87. The cause was cancer, said Barry Paris, a friend. At the height of her career, Ms. Basquette was known as much for the intrigues and dramas of her personal life as for those in which she
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NYTimes article
Critic's Notebook; Early Capra, When He Had An Edge
NYTimes - almost 25 years
FOR many people, Frank Capra will always be Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Clarence the Angel rolled into one, the director who can make grown men cry at "It's a Wonderful Life" and political cynics cheer at "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." I'm more partial to an earlier Capra scene, in which Barbara Stanwyck jumps off a yacht in the wee morning
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NYTimes article
SPORTS OF THE TIMES; A Ziegfeld Girl Keeps Running
NYTimes - about 34 years
T he way Lina Basquette sees it, her life is somewhere between the gossip magazines and the television commercials. At the age of 75, she says, she has done most of the things they write about in The National Enquirer, but she doesn't have any of the old-age ailments they feature in the television commercials. Instead, Miss Basquette is at the peak
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NYTimes article
NYTimes - about 34 years
The top-winning dog in America last year, Ch. C & B's Special-K Gribbin, became the first finalist in the 107th Westminster Kennel Club show, which opened a two-day run at Madison Square Garden yesterday. Last night, before an enthusiastic crowd of 5,000, the Great Dane led what the judge, Melbourne Downing, called ''an exeptionally strong working
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NYTimes article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Lina Basquette
  • 1994
    Age 86
    On September 30, 1994, Basquette died of lymphoma at her home in Wheeling, West Virginia, at the age of 87.
    More Details Hide Details She was survived by her half-sister Marge Champion, two children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
  • 1947
    Age 39
    In 1947, she married Warner Gilmore, the general manager of the St. Moritz Hotel. They divorced in 1951. Basquette's final marriage was to artist Frank Mancuso. They married in 1959 and separated that same year, but they never bothered to get legally divorced.
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  • 1937
    Age 29
    In April 1937, Basquette married British actor Henry Mollison in London. They separated in 1940, and divorced in October 1944.
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  • 1935
    Age 27
    Basquette was never financially stable enough to regain custody of her daughter. The Warner family filed several legal suits against her to win back Sam Warner's share of Warner Bros. studio. Over the next 20 years, Basquette saw Lita on only two occasions: in 1935, when Harry Warner and his family moved to Los Angeles, and in 1947, when Lita married Dr. Nathan Hiatt.
    More Details Hide Details Basquette and her daughter reconnected in 1977 when Basquette backed a lawsuit that Lita brought against her uncle Jack L. Warner's estate.
  • 1934
    Age 26
    She and Hayes eventually reconciled and remarried in 1934. They had a son, Edward Alvin Hayes, in April 1934. The following year, they divorced in December 1935.
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  • 1932
    Age 24
    After discovering that Hayes was still married to another woman, Basquette was granted a Mexican divorce on September 10, 1932.
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    In her autobiography, Basquette said that, while she and Hayes were separated, she had an affair with Jack Dempsey. Dempsey ended the affair in July 1932, after which Basquette attempted suicide a second time.
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  • 1931
    Age 23
    On October 31, 1931, she married Theodore Hayes, the former trainer of world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey.
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    Basquette's third marriage was to actor Ray Hallam in 1931.
    More Details Hide Details He died of leukemia three weeks after they were married.
  • 1930
    Age 22
    Marley and Basquette were divorced in September 1930.
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    In August 1930, Basquette left Marley as she tried to regain custody of Lita.
    More Details Hide Details When custody was denied, she attempted suicide by drinking poison at a party. She was saved when a guest heard her screams.
  • 1929
    Age 21
    In January 1929, Basquette married cinematographer Peverell Marley.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly after the marriage, Harry Warner, Sam Warner's older brother, asked Basquette give up custody of her daughter Lita. He was concerned that she would raise Lita as a Roman Catholic like her, rather than in the Jewish faith. Basquette said that she and Sam Warner had agreed to raise any female children they had as Catholic and any male children as Jewish. Harry Warner and his wife offered Basquette large amounts of money to relinquish custody but she refused. She finally relented after Harry Warner promised her that Lita would receive a $300,000 trust fund. On March 30, 1930, Harry Warner and his wife were awarded legal custody of Lita. Basquette quickly regretted her decision and tried to regain custody of her daughter.
    In 1929, she starred in the partial-sound film, The Godless Girl, directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
    More Details Hide Details This is the role for which she is best known. Basquette plays the title character Judith, who is based on Queen Silver, a child prodigy who early made speeches as a Socialist activist. Judith is the leader of a high school atheist society; she forces members to renounce The Bible while placing a hand on the head of a live monkey. In the film's climactic scene, DeMille insisted on realism while filming the reformatory going up in flames. During the filming, Basquette's eyelashes and eyebrows were burned. The Godless Girl was not a box office success in the United States, but it did well in Austria and Germany. Basquette later recalled that she received a fan letter from Adolf Hitler (before he achieved his political power) saying that she was his favorite movie star. After appearing in The Godless Girl, Basquette found her popularity declining and she was offered fewer film roles. She was unofficially blacklisted in Hollywood due to her legal battles with the Warner family, which was trying to take custody of her daughter with Sam Warner in order to rear her as Jewish, and challenged settlement of his estate. She made a successful transition to sound films and appeared in some Western films in the 1930s.
  • 1928
    Age 20
    Basquette returned to work in 1928, appearing in four films.
    More Details Hide Details That year, she was named one of thirteen WAMPAS Baby Stars. The following year, she appeared in The Younger Generation, directed by Frank Capra.
  • 1926
    Age 18
    After the marriage, Basquette grew to love and respect Warner; the couple had a daughter, Lita, in 1926.
    More Details Hide Details Warner died suddenly on October 5, 1927, the day before the opening of the highly anticipated Warner Bros. film, The Jazz Singer, which he had been working on tirelessly. Basquette was devastated by his death. She spent years battling Warner's family over money and custody of the couple's daughter.
  • 1925
    Age 17
    Basquette's first marriage was to Sam Warner, film producer and co-founder of Warner Bros. studio. The two were married on July 4, 1925, despite Warner's family's disapproval because Basquette was not Jewish.
    More Details Hide Details They had a daughter, Lita (named after Charlie Chaplin's wife Lita Grey) in October 1926. After suffering severe headaches and a sinus infection aggravated by several abscessed teeth, Warner was admitted to California Lutheran Hospital in September 1927. Doctors discovered that he had developed a mastoid infection that was spreading to his brain. After four surgeries to remove the infection, Warner slipped into a coma. He died of pneumonia caused by sinusitis and epidural and subdural abscesses on October 5, 1927.
    Basquette and Warner were married in July 1925.
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    By 1925, at age 18 Basquette was appearing in two concurrent Ziegfeld productions.
    More Details Hide Details She was spotted in Louie the 14th by Sam Warner, film producer and co-founder of Warner Bros. studio. Warner instantly fell in love with her and proposed marriage. Basquette did not want to marry him, as he was considerably older than she. Her mother insisted that Basquette accept Warner's proposal, believing that the producer was wealthy (at the time, Warner Bros. was losing money).
  • 1923
    Age 15
    In 1923, Baskette and her mother traveled across the country by train to New York City, so that the girl could audition for John Murray Anderson.
    More Details Hide Details Anderson urged her to change the spelling of her surname from "Baskette" to "Basquette". Producer Charles Dillingham changed the spelling of her first name from "Lena" to "Lina" saying, "Lena is a cook, Lina is an artiste." Before she could sign with Anderson, Florenz Ziegfeld cast the 16-year-old Basquette in his Ziegfeld Follies and cast her as a featured dancer. The Follies producers officially dubbed her "America's Prima Ballerina." The girl gained notice from Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, who wanted to mentor her in classical ballet. Her mother Gladys Baskette decided that a career as a ballerina would not yield enough money and turned down Pavolva's offer. Basquette later said, "I dreamed of being in a ballet company and it broke my heart."
  • 1916
    Age 8
    Baskette secured her first film contract at the age of nine in 1916 with Universal Studios in Los Angeles for the silent film series, Lena Baskette Featurettes.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly after she was signed with Universal, her father Frank Baskette committed suicide. Baskette later blamed her father's death on her mother's ambition for fame and fortune. Within a year, Gladys Baskette married dance director Ernest Belcher. Their daughter Marjorie Belcher, half-sister to Lina, was born in 1919 in Los Angeles, where the family was then living. Marjorie became a dancer and choreographer known as Marge Champion.
  • 1915
    Age 7
    He hired her at the age of eight (through her parents) to advertise Victrolas at the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco.
    More Details Hide Details Basquette later began studying ballet.
  • 1907
    Born on April 19, 1907.
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