Little Miss Gilbert

Here’s a publicity photo that appeared on the front page of the September 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

John Gilbert (1897-1936) was spiralling into a deep decline at the time of this photo. A star in the silent film era, he reportedly punched Louis B. Mayer when the film mogul made a crude comment about Greta Garbo (with whom Gilbert starred in several movies and had a well-publicized romance). This was not a good career move: the MGM head apparently cast Gilbert in poor films as a way of getting even, which caused Gilbert to descend into alcoholism.

The decline accelerated shortly after: Gilbert and Virginia Bruce divorced in 1934, and Gilbert suffered a heart attack in 1935. A second heart attack, in 1936, proved fatal.

Virginia Bruce (1909-1982) returned to her career after divorcing Gilbert, appearing regularly in movies through the mid-1940s and irregularly after. Her final appearance was as Madame Wang in Paul Morrissey’s 1981 film Madame Wang’s, produced in association with Andy Warhol. Wikipedia describes this film as “bizarre”.

Susan Ann Gilbert doesn’t appear to have done anything particularly noteworthy (but who among us has?). She passed away in 2004.

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