Carmel Myers (1899-1980).
Pearl has identified the Jewish movie star correctly as Carmel Myers.
D.W. Griffith hired Rabbi Isadore Myers as the Jewish technical consultant on his great epic, Intolerance, 1916. Griffith was so happy with Rabbi Myer’s expert advice and attention to detail that he said to the good Rabbi:
“How can I ever repay you?”
Rabbi Myers replied: “I have a daughter who would like to get into pictures.”
Carmel appears fleetingly as a dancing girl in Intolerance, and afterwards was signed as a contract Griffith player a few months prior to Colleen Moore’s arrival. They became close friends.
In her book Silent Star, Colleen Moore remembers that a a club for young actresses—Our Club—was organized as a means of mutual support. The young actresses would lunch on Sunday, discuss movies, books, “boys” and generously feed one another tips on what roles were available at which studios. Myers was an active member. A typical meeting included: Anita Stewart, Patsy Ruth Miller, Helen Ferguson, Billie Dove, Virginia Zanuck, Gertrud Olmsted, Julanne Johnston, Clara Horton, Ruby Keeler, Loretta Young, Aline MacMahon, Ruth Roland, Carmelita Geraghty, Pauline Garan and Ann Harding. Mary Pickford was Godmother to this extraordinary gathering of up and coming stars.
Carmel’s biggest break came when she was chosen to play Iras in the huge MGM production of Ben Hur, 1925.
Carmel Myers and Ramon Novarro, Ben Hur, 1925
The Rabbi’s beautiful daughter was frequently cast as the sexy vamp in silent films. She starred and worked with some of the best known stars of the time: John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Rudolph Valentino, Norma Shearer, Adolph Menjou, Eleanor Boardman, Lon Chaney, and Joan Crawford. Carmel made the transition to sound quite nicely, and as she grew older eased gracefully into character parts. But when the roles got too small she shifted into real estate—always a smart bet in Los Angeles—and launched her own perfume company. In 1951 Carmel had her own TV show for one season. She was married three times, each man was Jewish. This reveals Carmel’s deep sense of commitment to Judaism, at a time when intermarriage was almost expected among the Hollywood Jewish elite.
Carmel Myers enjoys humiliating H.B. Warner,
Sorrel and Son, 1927.
A lost Carmel Myers film was recently rediscovered and restored. From Senses of Cinema.
Among the recent discoveries and restorations this year, Herbert Brenon’s Sorrel and Son (1927), previously thought lost, proved strong enough to transcend the poor print material. James Wong Howe’s camerawork unfortunately could not be properly appreciated, but this is an excellent example of the kind of quality production Hollywood made at the time, and Brenon was nominated for an Academy Award. H.B. Warner gives a moving performance as a gentleman soldier trying to raise his son through hard times, and Carmel Myers especially stands out as a sluttish tavern owner, leading Variety to single out a scene in which she sadistically makes Warner wash the floors: “The manner in which Miss Myers handles this scene is great, and for that reason it is doubtful if it will pass uncensored.”
Almost entirely forgotten now, Carmel Myers was a fine actress and a great star of the silent screen.
Carmel Myers, The Rabbi’s Beautiful Daughter
Carmel Myers, MGM Photo, The Ship From Shanghai, 1930.