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Centennial Starlets: Anna May Wong and Janet Gaynor

Born only a year apart, Anna May Wong and Janet Gaynor both made their Hollywood debuts as teenagers and found breakthrough roles before they were twenty, The Toll of the Sea and The Johnstown Flood, respectively.  Embodying flapper chic and challenging traditional ideals of Chinese womanhood, Los Angeles-born Anna May Wong achieved international stardom despite the racism of her time. Wong subverted stereotypes by imbuing her characters with power and self-sufficiency.  One of the most popular Hollywood stars of the silent and early sound eras, Janet Gaynor started out as an extra in silent pictures and soon signed a long-term contract with Fox that led to starring roles which brought her to the attention of directors F.W. Murnau and Frank Borzage.  Gaynor remained a top box-office draw well into the 1930s, portraying variants on her sincere but spunky waif persona in a series of popular musicals, melodramas, and romantic comedies conceived especially for her at Fox.  She famously won the first ever Academy Award for Best Actress for her combined performances in Sunrise, 7th Heaven, and Street Angel.  All of the Janet Gaynor films are presented as restored 35mm prints.

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