Alla Nazimova. Russian Queen of Hollywood
Alla Nazimova was a great and very bright Russian star of Hollywood silent films and theater, a screenwriter, and film producer.
Miriam Edez Adelaida Leventon (her real name) was born in 1879 in Yalta, Crimea, Russian Empire. She was the third child in a Jewish family. Her parents divorced in 1887 and the girl lived with her father, who in the same year married again. From 1890 to 1893, Adelaide Leventon studied at the Yalta Girls’ Gymnasium. In 1893, Adelaide moved to her mother’s family in Odessa, where she entered the gymnasium and the music classes of the Odessa branch of the Imperial Russian Musical Society. Three years later seventeen-year-old Adelaide went to Moscow, where under the pseudonym Alla Nazimova began taking lessons at the Moscow Art Theater. During the studies she had a love affair with a famous millionaire, and after a painful break up she left school and began to play in the regional theater.
In 1899, Alla married a young actor Sergei Golovin. Unfortunately, their marriage was unsuccessful. After divorce Alla returned to the Moscow Art Theater, but left it a year later.
In Kostroma, where she came with the performance, Alla met the legendary actor of those years Pavel Orlenev, a close friend of Chekhov and Gorky. In 1904, as part of the theater troupe, they went on tour to Europe, where they played on the stages of London and Berlin. Then Nazimova and Orlenev left for America and spent a year and a half on tour. The troupe’s manager on this tour was the famous anarchist Emma Goldmann.
Nazimova stayed in the US and signed a contract with the legendary theater producer Lee Schubert. To achieve recognition abroad, Alla needed to learn the language, and she began taking English lessons from Caroline Harris. As a single mother, Harris often took her son, the future actor Richard Barthelmes, with her. Thanks to Alla’s patronage, he made his film debut in the movie The Bride of War in 1916.
The popularity of the film provided Alla with a five-year contract with Metro Pictures, which in 1924 merged with Goldwyn Pictures and became the world famous MGM studio. The film company offered the actress a fee of 13 thousand dollars a week – 3 thousand more than Mary Pickford received – and the right to independently choose a director, script and partner for films.
Moreover, in 1918, Nazimova began producing and writing films in which she also starred.
From 1912 to 1925 Nazimova lived in a “lavender marriage” with Charles Bryant (1879–1948), a New York actor. Also, Nazimova lived with Glesca Marshall from 1929 until her death in 1945.
The actress was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1936. Alla Nazimova died on July 13, 1945 at the age of 66. Her ashes were interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
– Nazimova was friends with actress Edith Luckett and was the godmother of her daughter Nancy, the future wife of the 40th US president Ronald Reagan.
– The audience called Alla Nazimova Madame.
– They say, Nazimova became the cause of divorce of Charlie Chaplin with his first wife, Mildred Harris.
– In 1977, Ken Russell shot the film Valentino about the life of Rudolph Valentino, in which the role of Alla was performed by actress Leslie Caron.
– Brilliant actress was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
– The American silent movie Silent Life is based on the life of Rudolph Valentino, and Galina Jovovich, (also known as the mother of Milla Jovovich) played the role of Nazimova.