by Marilyn Slater,
Looking for Mabel
When I made a trip to
People know Audrey Munson’s image but not necessarily her name. If you live in the
If you live in
Audrey Munson made 4 silent movies and there are hundreds and hundreds of paintings and sculptures that her face and figure adorn... In 1920 the newspaper referred to Olive Thomas as “another” rival of Audrey Munson, (Audrey was there first) the most beautiful woman in the world.
A biography was written "
There is something incredibly sad about the “Walking
What I found is that she was a model in the early 1900s, made her first film in 1915 (appearing nude) she was involved in a murder scandal 1919, she tried to work in vaudeville and in 1921 she made another try at making movies but the new censorship had made her nude screens in “Heedless Moths” hard to market,
she was even arrested for public indecently.
Audrey posed in movies; she didn’t actually act after all the transition of posing for the artist to posting in front of a “moving” picture camera wasn’t so big a change. At the beginning of movie-making, people were said to pose; the camera just took one picture after another and tricked the eye to suggest movement. It was like an automatic flipbook. Story telling by pictures is tens of thousands of years old, going back to cave paintings.
By 1922 she was 34; was reported to have a drug problem, her career had ended, and tried to commit suicide. Curious that Audrey Munson tried to end her life in 1922 with the same substance Olive Thomas ingested with such dire results; the Mercury Face using Mercury. She was committed to a psychiatric hospital for schizophrenia in 1931 and there she died in 1996 at the age of 104.
Jane Librizzi; 2009 April 16; THE BLUE LANTERN
Diane Rozas and Anita Bourne; AMERICAN VENUS - THE MUSE AND MISS MUNSON;
Audrey Munson information:
The Girl Beneath the Gilding - New York Times
Rediscovering Audrey by Justin D. White
The Sad Story of Hollywood’s First Naked Lady, Audrey Munson by Devin Faraci
“QUEEN OF THE ARTISTS STUDIO”
…When Piccirilli conceived his famous “RAIN” for the exposition at
So Mabel Normand was chosen by Piccirilli for his model. In those days Miss Normand was earning but fifty cents an hour, and while she was very popular and conscientious as a model, was not used as often as others whom figures were more of the ideal. She had come over from
Where in modeling Lady Constance, Prince Troubetskoy wished to avoid any suggestion of flesh, Piccirilli in doing “Rain,” wished to suggest it frankly – almost to exaggerate it. Mabel Normand’s body was done in the sketching clay into that of a siren, a beautifully rounded figure that seemed to glow with life and vivacity. She has Spanish blood, and her entire physical personality glows with Latin warmth of impulse and emotion.
But when the figure was completed Piccirilli was not satisfied. He had fixed an impression of voluptuousness – such as he believed a rain storm created – yet the spiritual, inner expression of noble thought and purpose seemed to be lacking. The face he had modeled seemed too merry. He sent for me, (ed. Audrey Munson) and, destroying the clay sketch of the head and face, made a sketch of my face. Thus his completed statue was made of two models – Miss Normand for the body, me for the face. He professed to find in my features that which he wanted to elevate and purify his statue. When I took the pose he wished he asked me to think of myself as being a rain storm, saddened by its damp caress because it suggested tears to me, yet held fast by the inexplicable spell which the rain threw about me. My interpretation of this command is what is pictured on this page in Piccirilli’s statue.
The completed worked won much favorable comment at
I do not mean to be understood that Miss Normand was unable to portray to artists the nobler character which the real artists always want to put into their works. Some sculptors found in her face, in the droop of her eyelids or the curves of her mouth features which were especially attractive to them. Her chief asset as a model was her ability to catch the mood of the artist and translate it for him, but it had to be a merry mood. Miss Normand could only “pout” when she should be sad and thoughtful. Her “pout” on the movie screen has earned her a million dollars or so; as a model it cancelled many posing engagement for her.
But in her merriment Miss Normand was typical of those models, many of whom later became famous as movie stars or stage beauties, who frequented the Tenth street studios of which I have spoken – studios occupied by such men as William De Liftwich Dodge, Gutzon Borglum, MacMonnies, Koni, Weinman, Daniel French and Robert Aitken.