Gloria Swanson 18971983

Karl Struss (18861981)
Platinum print, 1919

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Known as the “Queen of the Screen,” Gloria Swanson was one of Hollywood’s first female stars who symbolized the glamour and beauty of southern California. She often played the role of the seductive siren, a part that at times mirrored her own personal life.

Married six times, she pursued her career as a silent film actress with great ambition. Swanson arrived in California in 1915 to work with Mack Sennett; however, she made her most lasting contribution with the famed Paramount director Cecil B. DeMille. Ever mindful of her public image, Swanson played an active role in choosing her leading men and approving her publicity.

Numerous successful films made her one of the top-paid actresses of the day, although her popularity declined following the introduction of talkies in the late 1920s. This photograph by Karl Struss was created to promote her performance in DeMille’s 1919 film Male and Female.